News you only see in the foreign press: Britain to cut troop levels in Iraq.
The British Army is to start pulling troops out of Iraq next month despite the deteriorating security situation in much of the country, The Observer has learnt.
The main British combat force in Iraq, about 5,000-strong, will be reduced by around a third by the end of October during a routine rotation of units.
The forthcoming 'drawdown' of British troops in Basra has not been made public and is likely to provoke consternation in both Washington and Baghdad. Many in Iraq argue that more, not fewer, troops are needed. Last week British troops in Basra fought fierce battles with Shia militia groups.
The reduction will take place when the First Mechanised Infantry Brigade is replaced by the Fourth Armoured Division, now based in Germany, in a routine rotation over the next few weeks.
Troop numbers are being finalised, but, military sources in Iraq and in Whitehall say, they are likely to be 'substantially less' than the current total in Basra: the new combat brigade will have five or even four battle groups, against its current strength of six battle groups of around 800 men.
A military spokesman in Basra confirmed the scaling back of the British commitment.
This ran in the Observer on the 19th. The Observer has fallen on hard times, and isn't as reliable as its stablemate the Guardian, which is one of the UK's best newspapers. Still, this story hasn't, AFAIK, been contradicted by the UK government. Yet, as far as Google and I can tell, this story has gotten no traction at all in the US media except for Salon, which reprints the Observer story.
You would think that our #1 ally beginning to thin its troops on the ground merited a small mention in your local paper maybe? Or 30 seconds on the nightly news?
Maybe if we issue a press release in a new font?