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UK: Air Support failed our troops in Iraq

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Iraq air support 'failed UK troops'

All aircraft were under US-led coalition control

Concerns about the way air power was used to support British soldiers in Iraq have been raised by the Conservative Party.

Many soldiers felt their lives were put at risk because of a lack of adequate back-up, according to shadow defence secretary Bernard Jenkin.

After speaking to British troops, Mr Jenkin said some felt that cover for American troops was seen as a greater priority.

And the MP said RAF jets should not be pooled with US planes in future conflicts.

Close air support is important to advancing troops, allowing them to call in air strikes on enemy positions which threaten them.

Mr Jenkin, who has just come back from the Gulf, said some British units which had asked for air strikes to be carried out had had to wait 48 hours.

Bernard Jenkin

Britain's jets were all under the US-led coalition's control.

That is normal enough, but Mr Jenkin said US commanders had regarded British needs as secondary.

He said they had sent the RAF to help their troops instead.

In a statement, the Ministry of Defence said pooling aircraft increased the total number available and benefited the operation as a whole.

Main effort

RAF sources said there were also many examples of swift and timely help to British troops, by both American and British planes.

Mr Jenkin told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "I have not made any criticism of the Americans. I think it is entirely natural that they would regard their main effort as the attack on Baghdad and that the slow and painstaking approach to Basra by the British forces was a secondary issue to them.

"My criticism is whether it is right for British forces to pool our air support with the coalition as a whole rather than to maintain dedicated close air support with our own forces.

"While some air strikes came in in a very timely manner... there were occasions when it would have been preferable to have close air support very quickly and it took a considerable time to arrive because the coalition as a whole had other priorities."

Mr Jenkin plans to write to Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon about the issue.

taken from the BBC

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if it's under combined control then it's a rather simple equation to solve:

Keep each nation's respective close-air-support with each nation's respective ground forces and coordinate on a tactical level.

The army works very closely with F16's, A-10's and apaches, and britain works very close with Pumas, Harriers and Tornadoes... so why mix the pot when you've got the recipie right before you start cookin?

Either way, it's very difficult to prevent EVERY casualty.

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