Ex-US Army General says Britain failing in Iraq

Britain has allowed deteriorating security in southern Iraq to get worse, a retired US general said Wednesday, warning that American troops may need to plug the gaps if Prime Minister Gordon Brown withdraws significant numbers of British soldiers. Former US Army Gen. Jack Keane, who was vice chief of staff at the time the Iraq war was launched in 2003, said London had never deployed enough troops to properly stabilize the region around the southern city of Basra. His criticism, which follows other sharp comments from both US and British military officials and analysts, could be aimed at pressuring Brown, who is weighing a winter withdrawal of troops. Such a move which would increase Brown's popularity at a time some speculate he may consider a national election. "I think there is a general disengagement from what the key issues are around Basra," Keane told British Broadcasting Corp. radio. "The Brits have never had enough troops to truly protect the population and we have found that out painfully in the central region as well."