ME and Ophelia

Friday, October 22, 2004

The Queen's Dragoon Guards - the Welsh Cavalry to provide support

Here below is my selection of comments posted by readers at BBC news online's 'have your say'. I am posting them here because they reflect my views on the recent U.S. request for U.K. troops to take over from U.S. marines in Iskandariya, Iraq (allowing them to launch a major offensive against insurgents in Fallujah) that in Britain has caused such a furore it could put troops further at risk (General Sir Michael Walker says the furore is dangerous as insurgents see public opinion as a weak point to be played on and exploited).

My feelings are if the U.S. asks for U.K. help, we should provide it, like we would do for any friend, without hesitation. No doubt they would do the same for us. I'm pleased the request has been met in full and that the Black Watch, one of the best of the best, will be provided. The 1st Battallion of the Black Watch are currently involved in Operations in Basra, Iraq.

Black Watch soldiers make final preparations to move from their Basra base to the north Picture: PA

The Black Watch (Royal Highland Regiment), started in 1739, are the premier Scottish infantry regiment in the British Army and one of the most famous fighting forces in the world.  They combine a proud history and tradition of an organisation that has been soldiering for over 250 years, with the skills and professionalism of a front-line unit in a modern Army. 


The wearing of the distinctive red feather (Red Hackle) on the left side of the headdress is said to have begun during the American War of Independence. The Black Watch motto: Nemo me impune lacessit (No one provokes me with impunity)

Going by various news reports, the decision taken by the British military clearly is for military, not political reasons. The difficulties of the job already undertaken by the courageous and well trained American soldiers cannot be underestimated and ought to be fully acknowledged and appreciated by the public and politicians alike.

All of the troops in Iraq need full support from public and politicians to maintain good morale. It must be so dispiriting for them to hear and see news of moaning vociferous civvies who haven't a clue about the life and work of a professional soldier.

Soldiers are highly trained professionals, out there to do the job they signed up for. They can well do without all the whinging twaddle that is spouted by people who, quite frankly, are not in the forces or in Iraq and so have no idea of what they are talking about when it comes to military tactics, strategies and what it takes for things to work in reality.

Here are the comments:

(1) People tend to forget that living in Iraq under Saddam Hussein was a living hell for the population of Iraq. Even though the coalition forces have yet to install all out peace Iraq has become a much better place to live for an immense majority of Iraqis. The coalition forces need to be reinforced to ensure a lasting civil peace and British troops are the most qualified to ensure this as they have proven in Basra. Please don't let them leave. - Mohamed, Iraq

(2) OK so now it's official, the military have assessed it and the Black Watch are moving north. My son's been out there and the moaning back home does reach them and it depresses them no end. Let's give them all the support we can and persuade our leaders that we need more like them, not fewer. - Lincoln, England

(3) As an ex-soldier I think it is right that the Black Watch be made available to the Americans. We have over 30 years of bitter won experience in working with terrorists in Northern Ireland. I feel that our walk softly and carry a big stick approach will show our American counterparts that success can be achieved without resorting to overwhelming firepower. Besides which, our troops can use the opportunity to scrounge kit of the American which the MOD should by rights give our troops - a word of warning to the Americans... if it's not nailed down the British army will have it! - David, London, UK

(4) I have two points to make. First moving of British troops has absolutely nothing to do with our domestic politics...check CNN, FOX and MSNBC they don't even mention it. This will have no effect on our elections - anyone who states otherwise is at best naïve and uninformed. Secondly I am insulted by the posts stating that it is wrong for your troops to support the US when we ask for your friends and more importantly allies you should expect us to come to your aid as we expect you to come to ours. I doubt you would have to wait too long the next time you call on us. Americans would fight and die for the UK if you need us again. - US

(5) Earlier this year I was staying with my brother in law, who is serving in the USAF and it seems to me that the majority of the British public don't appreciate how grateful the Americans are for the assistance that our armed forces are giving them. When the guys on the airbase found out I was British, all they could say was "We love you guys". We are in this together and we must fight shoulder to shoulder. - Gillingham, Kent

(6) As an ex-soldier I am outraged at the lack of support for the soldiers by the vast majority of whining civilians. A soldier joins the Army to do this sort of job and you don't understand and never will. Our US allies came to aid the UK in our hour of need not once and not with 650 soldiers but twice and with hundreds of thousands. The whiners wouldn't hesitate to demand US involvement if we needed them again or if some part of the world was plunged into the ethic cleansing nightmare we have seen before.

(7) This is all a lot of fuss by people who don't have a clue. I'm a British soldier, and we have known about this redeployment for several weeks, all prior to this becoming public. I was due to go to Iraq in May, but now will probably go sooner, if so, then so be it - it's my job! Maybe the American military is realising the tactics they have been using are flawed and need our help? - Notts, England

The Black Watch is on its second tour in Iraq

Further reading: Q&A: The Black Watch redeployment
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Excerpt from the latest report via Scotsman:

" ... Chief of the Defence Staff, General Sir Michael Walker stressed the 850-strong battle group would retain their own rules of engagement despite being part of a US Marine expeditionary unit. But he confirmed they would be under the "tactical command" of the relevant American corps commander.

General Walker said the British troops would not directly be fighting alongside their US allies, adding: "What is happening is they are being given their own area of operations within which the writ of the battle group commander will run, which will be under the overall command of the general down in Basra." Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon said yesterday that would be General Bill Rollo.

General Walker went on: "They are under what’s called tactical control. This allows the local commander of the unit to which they are being attached to have the authority to co-ordinate the various units under his command. "But he has no authority to give them orders that would be against the sort of doctrine and training we undertake." ..."

Further reading: BBC News UK Bound for the 'triangle of death'


British troops have secured local goodwill in southern Iraq

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BBC report confirms soldiers from The Queen's Dragoon Guards - the Welsh Cavalry - (see their regimental history 1685-1959) are reported to be preparing to support fellow British troops - 500 soldiers from the Black Watch in the US sector.

The Welsh Cavalry armoured reconnaissance unit which could be sent to support the Black Watch will consist of 100 men and 12 Scimitar armoured fighting vehicles. The redeployment was announced by Mr Hoon on Thursday after ministers agreed to a request for support from the US.

Simon Pearson, who runs military consultancy BH Parners, told BBC Radio Wales he believed the US required support in some of the areas under its control in preparation for a planned assault on the insurgent stronghold of Falluja. "What the Americans are preparing for is a four to five week assault on Fallujah.

"They've pulled out 800 to 1,000 combat troops to go and deal with that. Fallujah lies 35-40 miles to the north west of Iskandariya which is where I understand the Black Watch and the Queen's Dragoon Guards are going. Preparations for the redeployment have been under way at the Black Watch's base in Basra for several days. Morale is reported to be high."


The Welsh Cavalry are undertaking their second tour of duty in Iraq. During their first tour, which ended earlier this year, reconnaissance tanks from the Queen's Dragoon Guards were at the spearhead of British operations around Basra.

Members of the regiment were rewarded for their efforts in destroying more than 20 Iraqi tanks by being presented with the Commando dagger by the Royal Marines.

Further reading: Inside besieged Falluja
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On recent kidnapping of CARE Aid Worker

Readers at the BBC's talking point posted comments in response to the recent kidnapping of a CARE aid worker. I have decided from here on out not to give publicity to any hostage takers. Seems it's the only practical thing I can do to help. Publicity may encourage many more low lifes, psychos and socio paths to get attention seeking thrills. I am printing these three comments because they raise points about tracking devices and the deafening silence of the clerics of Iraq and clerics of the world for the nations of Islam:

(1) Every Westerner or anyone who is in Iraq helping the coalition should have a microchip placed under their skin in an unidentified place so should anything happen they can be found via satellite. This technology is available. Then just send in the SAS. My thoughts are with the families and victims of kidnappings by these evil people. Jacquie, Italy

(2) Is now the time for all contractors in Iraq to carry a couple of hand grenades in their pockets? I know I would rather take two or three with me than suffer the same fate as Ken Bigley. Does the American and British government have absolutely no security for contractors in Iraq? When will they get tracking devices? Matt J, London

(3) What is most perplexing about all the kidnappings to me is that; clerics of Iraq and clerics of the world for the nations of Islam are silent about this travesty! Come on! Either their own religion speaks against this or not. Either these insurgents interpret their own religion wrongly and are doing this based on their beliefs or these clerics in not speaking against it, are in fact endorsing hostage taking and the beheading of them. Paul, London, ON, Canada
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2004 is playing out as close as 2000

President Bush holds a slim two-point lead on Democratic rival John Kerry in the stretch run of a tight race for the White House, according to a Reuters/Zogby poll released on Friday.

About 6 per cent of likely voters remain undecided between the president and the Massachusetts senator, with less than two weeks before the 2 November election.

The close margin and seesawing momentum resembled the 2000 race between Mr Bush and the Democrat Al Gore, the pollster John Zogby said.

"As we’ve said all along, 2004 is playing out as close as 2000," Mr Zogby said.
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He opposes sportsmen's rights, kills geese to get Ohio voters and admits to being lazy

According to a report in today's Scotsman, gun-toting John Kerry has over past 20 years voted against sportsmen's rights ... but kills geese to get Ohio voters, and admits to being lazy.

Senator Kerry's advisers and script writers must cringe when they review the media's coverage. See this excerpt from the Scotsman:

" ... It is no surprise then that Mr Kerry chose to go goose hunting in Ohio yesterday. His real target, however, was gun-owning Ohio voters, sceptical that the Democratic contender understands their affection for hunting.

Establishing his regular guy, pro-gun credentials has been a battle for Mr Kerry but it is vital if he is to have a realistic chance of carrying not just Ohio but swing states across the country.

Mr Kerry returned after the two-hour hunting trip wearing a camouflage jacket and carrying a 12-gauge shotgun, but someone else carried the bird he said he shot.

"I’m too lazy," Mr Kerry joked.

According to Mike McCurry, Kerry’s adviser, yesterday’s shooting trip would help voters "get a better sense of John Kerry, the guy". ..."
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Oh dear, Mrs Kerry isn't coming across very smart either - see Heinzstein by Peter Nolan in London.

UPDATE: See Hud's Blog-O-Rama: Kerry Flops
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Courtesy of the Scotsman and NYT

Today in 1962, President John F Kennedy - following the discovery of Soviet missile bases on the island of Cuba - announces in a television address, that nuclear missiles have been discovered in Cuba and that an air and naval blockade of the island will take place.

Thus begins one of the tensest periods of the Cuban Missile Crisis which brought, closer than ever before, the possibility of a nuclear Armageddon. Fortunately it never happened - and hopefully never will.
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Bill Gates is concerned about biological terrorism

Snippet from great essay on "Why Societies Collapse":

"I had a two-hour discussion with Bill Gates, who is a very thoughtful person, and he's interested in lots of things. He probes deeply and he has seriously considered positions of his own. The subject turned to environmental issues and I mentioned that that's the thing that most concerned me for the future of my children, Bill Gates has young children. He paused in his thoughtful way and he said, not in a dismissing way, 'I have the feeling that technology will solve our environmental problems, but what really concerns me is biological terrorism."
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For your blog or screensaver provides free clocks for your blog.

Note the one that provides three different time zones, looks handy.

I'd like a clock with an alarm to set so I know when to switch off and rest. I lose track of time and don't realise how fast it goes sometimes, until I get over tired and neck and eyeballs start burning. Like right now.

[Thanks to Tank's Grrl]
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Scarred for life

A mean critter attacked Ophelia the other night and bit her ear in two places :( She seems fine in herself though. Just the thought of her being hurt makes me wince. It happened a few nights ago. I heard an almighty yowl and screeching cat noises, opened the window and Ophelia quickly jumped in. She's not a bully and is sweet natured around other cats, so I guess she was on the balcony minding her territory and another cat tried to muscle in. I can't be sure she didn't spit first. Next day she was subdued and quiet. Things are back to normal now. She has a small cut on her beautiful soft and silky hamster-like ear. Scarred for life. My poor little pet.

The thing I worry about is that it might not have been a cat. Maybe it was a rat. There are loads of rats here down by the sea at night, did you know? Heh. Bear that in mind next time you go fishing or skinny dipping in the moonlight.

Also, in London there are lots of rats in the sewers. Years ago I'd read a news report about someone sitting on their loo when a rat jumped up out of the ... er ... water. True story.

# posted by Ingrid J. Jones @ 10/22/2004
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