March 24 (Bloomberg) — British troops will probably have to stay in Iraq until at least 2006 because leaders of the U.S.-led military coalition failed to anticipate the insurgency that followed the 2003 invasion and the amount of reconstruction needed, the U.K. House of Commons Defense Committee said.
Military leaders didn’t make adequate provision for management of the rebuilding program after the handover of power to the interim Iraqi government in June, the committee said in a report for the Ministry of Defence. As a result, British troops, based in southern Iraq, have had to take on jobs that should be done by civilians, the panel said without giving specifics.
“The U.K. needs a comprehensive post-conflict planning capability,” committee chairman Bruce George said. “The U.K.’s response to post-conflict challenges will also require better integration with our allies’ planning processes.”
The U.K. has an 8,100-strong force in Iraq, the Defense Ministry said. This is the second biggest force behind the U.S. which has 150,000 servicemen, making up most of the total of 175,000 coalition forces.
U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair hasn’t set a date for withdrawing troops, saying that they will pull out after Iraqi security forces have been trained to deal with the insurgency. The total cost of military operations for the three years to 2005 will probably be more than 3.1 billion pounds ($5.81 billion), the report said.
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