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British brigadier sees 'strong streak of Hollywood' in some U.S. officers

Another senior British officer has criticized American officers for their conduct in Iraq, this time saying some want to emulate film stars, according to a report in the British newspaper the Daily Telegraph.

British Army Brig. Andrew Sharpe, who worked alongside Americans in Baghdad, said there was a “strong streak of Hollywood” with officers trying to portray themselves as Sylvester Stallone or John Wayne, according to the paper.

The brigadier, an O-6, wrote the comments in a paper on Britain’s influence on U.S. foreign relations. The essay is likely to strain ties further, coming after other British officer’s criticism of the American approach.

A U.S. spokesman at Multi-National Force — Iraq told Stars and Stripes on Thursday only that “we would not comment on what foreign servicemembers had to say.”

Sharpe was quoted in the Telegraph as having written that to be a successful American officer, one needed to combine the “real and acted heroics” of Audie Murphy, the “newsreel antics” of Gen. Douglas MacArthur and the “movie performances” of Hollywood actors.

Medal of Honor recipient Audie Murphy was the U.S. Army’s most decorated soldier of World War II.

Sharpe suggested that while this might look good on television, the “loud voices, full body armour, wrap-around sunglasses, airstrikes and daily broadcasts from shoulder-holster wearing brigadier-generals proudly announcing how many Iraqis have been killed by U.S. forces today” was no “hearts-and-minds winning tool.”

Sharpe, 46, was awarded the Order of the British Empire medal and the American Bronze Star for writing the “coalition campaign plan” for Iraq during a tour in Baghdad in 2004, the Telegraph reported.

British spokesman Wing Commander Tony Radcliffe said Sharpe is now serving in Bosnia.

The Telegraph reported that Sharpe offered an anecdote about a “subjugated Iraqi” just before his release from detention.

Sharpe reportedly wrote that the Baathist was loudly lectured by an American officer, who was accompanied by a quiet British brigadier, on the dangers of returning to his “previously nefarious ways.”

As the Iraqi left he reportedly said: “Hey, Mr. American, next time before you shout so much you should speak to him. He is British — they know how to invade a country.”

A spokeswoman at the British Ministry of Defence told Stripes that the thesis “had nothing to do with the MOD” and reflected Sharpe’s “personal views” but was an academic paper “meant to stimulate debate.”

Stripes editor Patrick Dickson contributed to this report.


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