A couple of days ago the British forces announced that they were going to hand over one of their bases to Iraqi forces. This was being presented by the US as a classic example of Iraq standing up, so our forces could stand down. The impression was that the British had secured the area, the Iraqi army was trained and ready to go, and this was a great success story.
Thursday the handoff took place, and the real story comes out.
The British departure from the base near Amarah was more of a retreat than anything else. The base left them as sitting ducks, and the leadership has decided that becoming a flexable, almost guerilla force, will be a more effective means of patrolling the area.
An Iraqi force was to secure the base, and all the materials that were left behind, but it didn't quite work out that way. The base was attacked, then portions of the Iraqi army joined the insurgents. In the end the base was looted by locals.
The Mahdi Army has declared this a victory, the people of the region are celebrating, the Iraqi army was again proven to be impotent, and a base is lost. This is the result of three years of US training, investment, and losses, and there is little reason to expect it to get any better.
It appers a Republican has seen the light, Rep Christopher Shays (R-Ct), is calling for a time frame for withdrawing