There was a very significant article in the Sunday Telegraph yesterday, which I suspect might help explain why the British Government seems keen to move on demilitarisation in Northern Ireland in the face of unionist opposition.
The confirmation of a new large-scale troop redeployment, and the news that there is no end-date for British withdrawal, have sparked fears among serving soldiers and senior military figures that Iraq may be developing into Britain’s own "Vietnam".
Last night, senior officers accused the Government of having a "head-in-the-sand mentality" over Britain’s defence requirements and its involvement in Iraq, where more than 200 civilians were killed in terrorists attack last week alone. They said the Army – which is also sending 3,000 extra troops to Afghanistan next April – was under-manned, "strapped for cash" and being "dangerously overstretched".
So far, operations in Iraq are estimated to have cost Britain £5 billion and, since the American-led invasion in 2003, 95 British troops have been killed there. (Sunday Telegraph)