British army to command US troops during war
Some 2,000 US troops will be placed under British command in the event of a war on Iraq, it was confirmed in London, the first time such an arrangement has applied since the second world war.
The unusual arrangement by which the Pentagon will hand over control of some of its forces to a British field commander will deliver a welcome boost to Tony Blair, the embattled prime minister.
"This is a surprise departure from usual US policy. There must have been quite a lot of political manoeuvring in the background to achieve this," said Charles Heyman, the editor of Jane's World Armies.
The latest development is thought to be unprecedented since combined allied operations during the second world war. Troops from the 15th US Marine Expeditionary Force are expected to be put under the command of Brigadier Jim Dutton, commander of Bri-tain's 3 Commando Brigade. But Mr Heyman, a former British army officer, expressed concern about how the line of command would work in practice after defence officials confirmed that any of the US Marine commanders would be able to question an order from a senior British officer by going over his head to US central command, based in Qatar, the Gulf emirate.