Thursday, 30 April 2009

Coming Home! Job well done!

With the British combat operations in Iraq coming to an end today, High Streets across the UK will soon be welcoming home the last troops from Basra, paying tribute to their courage and thanking them for a job well done.

Out of the mess that was the war in Iraq, one thing is certain: the resurgence of the pride that the British people has in its Armed Forces.

The professionalism of our servicemen and women, the heroism and courage displayed in the most challenging of situations, the successes achieved in the numerous combat operations and the sheer logistical achievement of waging such a technically sophisticated war in such an harsh environment at such a long distance from home, all these are things that have given rise to that pride and are in which the Armed Forces themselves can take pride.

The freedom and stability that the British forces have successfully brought to the Basra region was done so despite a deplorable lack of resources, confused and changing war aims and muddled political leadership.

It's hard to reckon that the war in Iraq lasted almost as long as the Second World War.

There is unlikely to be a grand Falklands-style Victory Parade in London to commemorate the war in Iraq. What we will see however, as we have been seeing for months past, will be the British people turning out in their home towns to show their appreciation and thanks to the troops.

But as the returning troops march past we will also remember the 178 who didn't make it home and the hundreds who were injured, both physically and mentally, during the conflict. The Basra Memorial Wall, which commemorates all the Service personnel who died on Operation TELIC, will be brought home. It will be reproduced in the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire with the dedication service hopefully taking place in July next year.

BBC: UK combat operations end in Iraq
The Telegraph: Iraq: key events in British Forces' mission
The Mail: Exit Iraq: British troops honour 179 fallen comrades as they prepare to fly home from Basra
The Telegraph: British war dead in Iraq
MoD: British forces lost in Basra remembered at final service