Bloomberg reports that British troops in Iraq peaked at more than 40,000 in 2003. Since 2007, Britain has drawn down troops and shifted more servicemen to NATO operations in Afghanistan. Most of its military personnel in Iraq are currently stationed at an air base outside Basra. British troops in Afghanistan are now more than double the size of the deployment in Iraq.
Brown has been under pressure from officers to ease the burden on the British army, which has been pushed to the limit by the twin deployments. He has said diminished violence in southern Iraq fully justifies the exit....
The U.K. won't be able to re-deploy all of its remaining troops in Iraq to Afghanistan when their mission is over without doing long-term damage to its forces, General Jock Stirrup, chief of defense staff, who is accompanying Brown to Iraq today said.
"We cannot just have a one to one transfer from Iraq to Afghanistan," he said, speaking at Basra airbase. "The net result must be a reduction in our operational tempo because the forces have been overstretched for too long. That's what we will do in 2009."