Written by Gareth Carpenter
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Topics: Iraq, Flooding

Tuesday, 16 March 2004

image for US slams Europe allies after fake soldier storm
A cardboard tank patrols Baghdad

Sneaky European countries have begun flooding Iraq with fake cardboard cut-outs of military personnel in a cynical bid to deceive their US ally about how committed they are to restructuring the war-stricken country.

The scandal came to light when US forces in Iraq complained that many coalition soldiers from other countries had become "static, surly and non-communicative".

"Many of our guys were having problems talking to allied units," said US colonel Brad Gelder. "At first, we assumed they were dumb and didn't understand English. It was only after we engaged them in a firefight that we discovered they were actually pieces of cardboard."

The Pentagon said it had now set up a disciplinary panel to "kick the defecting Europeans into shape" after newly-elected Spanish prime minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero threatened to pull Spanish troops out of Iraq.

"If other countries think they can trick us in this way they are surely mistaken," said Pentagon spokesman Raymond Drury Jr. Mr Drury was speaking at a press conference full of cardboard cut-out journalists after the world's media decided to test the effectiveness of the method.

In response to the US's warning, Britain, Poland and Italy reiterated that they would be bulking up their Iraq troop quotas with "real flesh and blood".

"Most of our lads doing national service on domestic soil spend their time cleaning tanks, cooking in the mess and darning socks," said Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi. "It will do them good to get shot at for a good cause."

Even the tiny Faroe Islands announced that it would be sending a six-man patrol to the southern city of Basra.

"Per capita, we're actually the biggest military presence in the country," said Faroes mayor, Oleg Steffson.


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