Archived posts from category ‘Axe in Iraq ’07’

Goodbye Basra, Day Five: Screamin’ Privates

The Brits are in a rush to get the Hell out of Basra. But they’re not going anywhere until the Iraqi Army is ready to fully take over. Hence the importance the British military places on its so-called “monitoring, mentoring and training” role. Of the roughly 4,500 British troops still in Iraq, around 1,000 are trainers, including the [...]

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Goodbye Basra, Day Four: Sounds of Retreat

  Or “redeployment,” depending on who you ask. Check out my DIY audio report on the staged British departure from southern Iraq, including some sweet clips of a mortar attack (that I rode out in my armored bunk bed). Related: Goodbye Basra, Day Three: Sand Castles Goodbye Basra, Day Two: Big Bad Rides Goodbye Basra, Day [...]

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Goodbye Basra, Day Three: Sand Castles

With new British Prime Minister Gordon Brown promising a 30-percent cut to the 5,000-strong British force in southern Iraq by spring 2008, a lot of units currently based at Basra Air Station are eyeing an early departure. But not the Joint Helicopter Force. “We’ve drawn down as far as we’re going to,” Wing Commander Ian [...]


Goodbye Basra, Day Two: Big Bad Rides

It was just a five-minute flight by Merlin chopper from Basra air station to the training base at Shaiba. Waiting for us at the landing zone were three of the biggest, baddest trucks I’ve ever seen. These “Mastiffs” – derivates of the U.S. Cougar Mine-Resistant Ambush-Protect armored truck – featured foot-thick bolt-on side armor plus [...]


Goodbye Basra, Day One: Incoming!

It starts with a wail: a siren warning of incoming mortar or rocket fire. You hit the ground, burying your face in the thin cold mud of the Iraqi winter. Next you hear the distinctive burp of the counter-mortar guns: modified naval Phalanx anti-ship cannons that fire nearly 5,000 20-millimeter shells per minute. If you [...]