British general admits Anglo-US 'friction'

Click to follow
The Independent Online

The head of the Army admitted yesterday that there was a risk of "great military friction" between British and American soldiers attempting to hold the peace in Iraq.

The head of the Army admitted yesterday that there was a risk of "great military friction" between British and American soldiers attempting to hold the peace in Iraq.

General Sir Mike Jackson hinted at tensions with US commanders, who have been accused of taking too heavy-handed an approach to putting down insurrections in Fallujah and Najaf.

The general, who led the British forces in Kosovo, told MPs that it was "simply a fact of life" that the British approach to "operational doctrine" was "somewhat different to the American approach". He said it was impossible to find a way of integrating British and American troops entirely, adding: "We must be able to fight with Americans; that doesn't mean we fight as Americans."

He admitted that there was a balance to be struck between the logistical problems of holding a coalition together and the benefit which it represented to political leaders.

"On this question of coalition multi-nationality, yes, it brings great political advantage. It also brings great military friction," he told the Commons Defence Select Committee.

He disclosed that a three-star general was being sent to Iraq to act as deputy to the American commander in the run-up to the handover to an interim Iraqi government on 30 June.

Also giving evidence, General Sir Michael Walker, the Chief of the Defence Staff, said it was a "very reasonable assumption" that Britain would only fight a future war alongside the United States. "The assumption is we would not see ourselves engaging in an inter-state conflict on our own," he said.

Britain would act alongside other allies and, given its military power, the US was the most obvious of those allies, General Walker said.

Admiral Sir Alan West, the First Sea Lord and Chief of the Naval Staff, concurred. He said: "It is extremely unlikely we would ever be involved in operations without the United States. The assumption that we would not be involved at the very highest level without the US is a very sensible basis on which to go forward."

Comments