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UK Sending more Troops to Iraq

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1 Battalion Princess of Wales Royal Regiment

1 Battalion Cheshire Regiment

Battalion Royal Welsh Fusiliers

1 Battalion Royal Horse Artillery

1 Mechanised Brigade

Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon has announced an increase of about 370 British troops in Iraq, bringing the total to 8,400.

Mr Hoon gave details of adjustments to numbers of troops in the area of southern Iraq under British control.

The changes are being made at the request of commanders on the ground.

No decision has been taken on sending more troops to fill the gap left by the withdrawal of forces from Spain, Honduras and the Dominican Republic.

If we judge that further changes to the UK military contribution in Iraq would be appropriate...we will of course inform the House at the earliest opportunity

In a statement to MPs Mr Hoon said the 1st Battalion the Black Watch, trained in operating out of Warrior personnel carriers, would replace the 1 Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders when their tour of duty ends in July.

This would mean a net increase of 200 troops and was a response to the "continuing threat from violent groups in the area around Al Amarah".

Mr Hoon said in the face of continued mortar and rocket attacks on UK troops, 69 Squadron from 36 Regiment Royal Engineers - 170 troops - would also be deployed for three months.

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Black Watch Heads back to Iraq...

The Black Watch is heading back to Iraq following the announcement of more UK troop deployments.

Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon said that 600 soldiers from the Scottish infantry regiment were being sent back to Iraq.

Mr Hoon described the extra troop deployment as a modest increase, but it comes amidst mounting violence in the south of the country.

The regiment will replace the 1st Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders when their tour ends in July.

The Black Watch first fought in Iraq in April 2003 as part of the 7th Armoured Brigade, which led the Desert Rats' attack on Basra, the country's second city.

On the regiment's return to the UK, commanding officer Lieutenant Colonel James Cowan said it had been left with a shortage of kit by the Ministry of Defence.

Troops had been sent to Iraq without equipment needed to survive a chemical or biological attack, he added.

Black Watch Regimental Sergeant Major Brian Cooper also criticised the shortage of nuclear, biological and chemical protection suits and equipment.

But both men said complaints should be kept in perspective, considering the success of the Iraq campaign and the amount of equipment transported to the Gulf.

Continued here.

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