THE PAR AS IN IRAQ
Twenty years ago, paratrooper-turnedphotographer Craig Allen took a news team into Basra. Scuds, shelling and staybehind fighters feature as he recounts his experiences of invasion. Part I of II
In the build-up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, I had been working as a freelance photographer following a 23-year career in the regular army. I was still a reservist and was mobilised to re-join my old unit, the Parachute Regiment, in Kuwait. My reserve battalion, 4 Para, contributed around 150 men to the strength of 16 Air Assault Brigade – many of whom brought useful civilian skills along with them.
Britain contributed a substantial force to Operation Telic, the codename for its campaign in Iraq. It was based around the 1st Armoured Division and comprised the 7th Armoured Brigade, 16 Air Assault Brigade and 102 Logistics Brigade, with the Marines of 3 Commando Brigade also under command. The 16 Air Assault Brigade was led by Brigadier ‘Jako’ Page and included two battalions of the Parachute Regiment: 1 and 3 Para.