Clues suggest more troops will follow

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Indy Politics

The latest deployment demonstrates the deteriorating situation in Iraq, and is a glimpse of what is likely to lie ahead.

The latest deployment demonstrates the deteriorating situation in Iraq, and is a glimpse of what is likely to lie ahead.

Clues include the 40 Commando Royal Marines, who have been put on 10 days notice to replace to replace the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders and the Royal Highland Fusiliers, presently training Iraqi forces. But these troops will not be finishing their tours until August, so why is there a need to put the Royal Marines on 10 days notice for something happening three months from now? And are the elite Royal Marines really going to be used as teachers for Iraqi civil defence?

The deployment announced by Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon yesterday, was nothing like the thousands that had been widely predicted. This, as well as Mr Hoon repeatedly stressing that it was in response to the request of Major General Andrew Stewart, the British commander in Iraq, appeared to take the wind out of opposition' sails.

The devil, however, is in the detail. This is a very temporary measure. Military chiefs have given the Cabinet a set of three options, ranging from the deployment of 800 up to 3,000 troops. Large-scale deployment will be unpopular with both public and Labour Party, and the commanders are reconciled that a decision is unlikely until after the European and local elections on 10 June.

But if the decision was taken after 10 June to significantly increase the number of British troops on the ground, and deploy further north, then the Royal Marines will be ready to move.

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