It will be difficult for the US military to live down the shame of its decision to keep its 12'000 men and women and their families based in Suffolk from venturing beyond the dangerous frontier of the M25 motorway that circles London. The decision, made last Friday after the terrorist bombings, was rescinded yesterday but it would probably still be in place if the UK media had not unearthed it. One can understand that a temporary and cautionary order might have been issued last Friday but if the US commanders had been in touch with the real world they would have noticed that on Saturday and Sunday the streets and stadiums of London were crowded with people behaving in quite a normal way. They might also have noticed that on Monday it was business as usual. However, they did nothing to withdraw the order until the media came knocking at their door. What they did then was to make matters much worse with statements of incredible insensitivity. Major General Michael Gould said: Our hearts and souls go out to the victims and their families on behalf of the Americans who live and work here in the United States Air Force in Europe. We're truly sorry, we feel badly for you and we will continue to stand side by side you as partners in the war on terror. PP A spokeswomen at RAF Mildenhall, one of the two US bases in Suffolk, said: The main reason for the ban was because of the security of our people is our top concern. We also want to stand in support of our British hosts and sit out of the way to let them do the work they need to do to get things running back to normal. One other thing that the US military might have noticed is that within 24 hours of the attacks British tourists authorities were urging American tourists not to change their plans to visit London. They should have addressed their message to the men in uniform in Suffolk as well. In this difficult hour, the people of Great Britain can know that the American people stand with you. George W Bush, 9 July 2005.
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