Brits in Iraq: US Military Bosses Were 'Like Martians'

Leaked documents show US, UK commanders clashing bitterly
By Jane Yager,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 23, 2009 3:35 AM CST
UK General Sir Richard Dannatt attends a reception at London Guildhall after a Service of Commemoration to mark the end of combat operations in Iraq on October 9, 2009 in London, England.   (Getty Images)

(Newser) – British military officers serving in Iraq in the early days found their American counterparts so uncommunicative they called them “a group of Martians” for whom “dialogue is alien." In documents leaked to the Daily Telegraph, the top British general says he didn't even have a secure line to Gen. Rick Sanchez, the US commander, he saw him only once in seven months, and he admits to spending "a significant amount of time" "evading" and "refusing" orders from American superiors.

The UK commander's refusal to obey US orders even earned the British ambassador in Washington a diplomatic reprimand of the sort usually reserved for rogue states. UK leaders say American "arrogance" meant they weren't informed about decisions affecting them. In March 2004, when a US decision triggered an uprising throughout the British sector, "it was not coordinated with us and no one was told that it was going to happen,” says a UK commander. “The consequence was that my whole area of operations went up in smoke."