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Operation Telic and the Liberation of Iraq (Hardback)

From the Desert Rats to the Media War

Military > By Century Military > Reference World History

By Dennis Alexander Abbott
Imprint: Pen & Sword Military
Pages: 224
Illustrations: 35 mono illustrations
ISBN: 9781036106416
Published: 30th August 2024

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Operation Telic and the Liberation of Iraq Operation Telic and the Liberation of Iraq is an anecdote-packed daily diary recounting the author’s experiences as a reserve officer and media handler with 7 Armoured (the Desert Rats) and 19 Mechanized Brigade in 2003.

A journalist in uniform, Abbott provides an insider-outsider account of British Army media ops in southern Iraq during the immediate post-conflict phase. With a sharp eye for detail, Abbott provides a behind-the-scenes account of the highs and lows of serving two ‘masters’ – his demanding military commanders on one hand and a voracious press on the other. One of his first missions is dealing with a barrage of media questions following the brutal murder of six Royal Military Police by a crazed mob in Majar al-Kabir.

Abbott recalls the adrenalin-filled atmosphere when the British garrison at Basra Palace is surrounded by a crowd unleashing hundreds of rounds from their AK-47s. It’s only after a tense stand-to that the nervous troops discover that they are not under attack: the crowd is celebrating the demise of Saddam Hussein’s sons. There are plenty of lighter moments, too, as Abbott tells stories that fortunately didn’t make the news at the time. The author admits how criminal thoughts might just have briefly crossed his mind over the tens of millions of dollars flown in by the US government each week and stored feet from his camp-bed.

Above all this is a vivid account of a controversial operation that cost many lives and severely tarnished the reputation of British Prime Minister Tony Blair and US leadership. Unconvinced of the merits of military action before arriving in theatre, Abbott ends his tour in a positive mindset despite the failure to locate WMD. His diary is more SOS than SAS, with little of the derring-do of an Andy McNab adventure. Yet it’s just as un-put- downable. More in the tradition of Leslie Thomas’ Virgin Soldiers, it’s an honest, authentic and often funny read which has the potential to appeal beyond a niche audience. There has been no account of the British in Iraq quite like this.

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About Dennis Alexander Abbott

Dennis Abbott is a journalist and former reserve officer who served as a media handler during Operation Telic in Basra, Iraq, in 2003. His journalistic career included stints at The Sun, Daily Mirror, European Voice, The Brussels Times, Blackpool Gazette and North Wales Weekly News. He also served as a spokesperson for the European Commission and as a communications consultant with global agency BCW. He is a Battle of Waterloo tour guide and author of 100 years of the Royal British Legion in Brussels, where he is branch Chair.

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