Thursday, December 09, 2004

The British Way

There has been so much talk in the British press about the "softly, softly" approach that the British military takes in Iraq compared with the US military. This was a big feature of the Black Watch's transfer to the Sunni Triangle before the assault on Fallujah.

According to Bruce Wallace of the Los Angeles Times, the "softly, softly" didn't work when the Black Watch got to the Sunni Triangle. And, even though this edge to relations between the US and British troops was probably more a media creation than reality, some British soldiers did apparently have to concede that the US has had it tougher in the Sunni Triangle than they have in the south.
"The threat here is at the other end of the spectrum from what we faced in Basra," said Black Watch Capt. Stuart MacAulay, sitting on the edge of a bunker at Camp Dogwood with a map of the area spread in front of him.

"After the suicide bombings against us, I went to an American soldier I know here and put my hands up. I said, 'I confess, I was one of those who sat around in Basra criticizing your approach.'

"And I'm embarrassed that I criticized American tactics without ever being here and without having met them."

He was hardly alone. The British self-perception of superiority to the Americans took hold in the first days of occupation, feeding on outrage over the handful of British deaths by U.S. friendly fire during the March 2003 invasion.

The feisty British media did the rest, turning modest differences in style into a clash of military cultures.
I actually think this rivalry is a good thing - or at least not a bad thing, and it was there 60 years ago.

I didn't pay too much attention, but I couldn't help noticing the way the British media had been all over the US Army & Marines before the Black Watch moved north. I haven't seen anything like this article in the British press yet, however.

"Feisty British media" is a great put down. Makes them sound like hyper-active children, which probably isn't far from the truth.