US and UK supposedly agree on Iraq exit strategy
Hoon and Rumsfeld agree Iraq exit strategy
Patrick Wintour and Ewen MacAskill
Friday January 28, 2005
The US and Britain have privately agreed an exit
strategy from Iraq based on doubling the number of
local police trainees and setting up Iraqi units that
would act as a halfway house between the police and
The agreement was reached on Monday between the US
secretary of defence, Donald Rumsfeld, and his British
counterpart, Geoff Hoon.
It was based on recommendations from retired US
general Gary Luck, sent to Iraq by the Pentagon last
month to look at the failings of Iraq's security
The more aggressive police force is designed gradually
to replace the 150,000 coalition troops and will form
the centrepiece of plans for Britain and the US to
Although no deadline has been set for withdrawal -
partly, British sources say, because it may encourage
the insurgents - Britain has made a phased pull-out
its top priority.
"Everything the defence secretary is working towards
now is an exit strategy, but without a public
timetable," said a British military source.
Spanish and Italian forces could be asked to help
train the Iraqis, a British defence source said.
Thousands of troops from the multinational force would
back up the Iraqi police which, at present, has a
reputation for desertion in the face of the
Although the US and Britain would like to pull out as
soon as Iraq is stable, Gen Luck said it could be
years before the Iraqi police was ready.
The Pentagon this week said it expected to maintain
150,000 troops in Iraq for at least the next two
Britain said yesterday it would send 220 more soldiers
to Iraq to help fill a gap left by the Netherlands
which is pulling out in March.
If the build-up of reliable Iraqi security forces
could be speeded up, Britain can see various staging
posts for a phased withdrawal. Dates include August
15, when a constitution is to be agreed by the
assembly. By 15 December, there is due to be a new
Charles Kennedy demanded a clear statement yesterday
on the future status of British troops. He called on
Tony Blair to set out "a proper exit strategy,
including the phased withdrawal of British troops, as
the security situation allows."
� Insurgents trying to disrupt Sunday's election
killed 19 Iraqis and a US marine yesterday and bombed