The essay below contains the speech that Lt. Col. Tim Collins, commander of the 1st Battalion of the Royal Irish
recited to his men on the afternoon of March 22, 2003, prior to heading north into Iraq...

Fort Blair Maine, Kuwait
 


"Our Business Now Is North
       22 March 2003

       With one phrase, Lt. Col. Tim Collins, commander of the 1st
       Battalion of the Royal Irish, summed up the task in hand for
       the British forces waiting to remove Saddam Hussein from Iraq.

       Collins was addressing his 800 men, an arm of Britain's 16 Air
       Assault Brigade, at Fort Blair Maine, a Kuwaiti desert camp 20
       miles south of the Iraqi border. Here is as much of his
       extraordinary speech as has been reported.

       "We go to liberate not to conquer. We will not fly our flags in
       their country. We are entering Iraq to free a people and the
       only flag which will be flown in that ancient land is their
       own. Show respect for them.

       "There are some who are alive at this moment who will not be
       alive shortly. Those who do not wish to go on that journey, we
       will not send. As for the others I expect you to rock their
       world. Wipe them out if that is what they choose. But if you
       are ferocious in battle remember to be magnanimous in victory.

       "Iraq is steeped in history. It is the site of the Garden of
       Eden, of the Great Flood and the birthplace of Abraham. Tread
       lightly there. You will see things that no man could pay to see
       and you will have to go a long way to find a more decent,
       generous and upright people than the Iraqis. You will be
       embarrassed by their hospitality even though they have nothing.
       Don't treat them as refugees for they are in their own country.
       Their children will be poor, in years to come they will know
       that the light of liberation in their lives was brought by you.

       "If there are casualties of war then remember that when they
       woke up and got dressed in the morning they did not plan to die
       this day. Allow them dignity in death. Bury them properly and
       mark their graves.

       "It is my foremost intention to bring every single one of you
       out alive but there may be people among us who will not see the
       end of this campaign. We will put them in their sleeping bags
       and send them back. There will be no time for sorrow.

       "The enemy should be in no doubt that we are his nemesis and
       that we are bringing about his rightful destruction. There are
       many regional commanders who have stains on their souls and
       they are stoking the fires of hell for Saddam. He and his
       forces will be destroyed by this coalition for what they have
       done. As they die they will know their deeds have brought them
       to this place. Show them no pity.

       "It is a big step to take another human life. It is not to be
       done lightly. I know of men who have taken life needlessly in
       other conflicts, I can assure you they live with the mark of
       Cain upon them. If someone surrenders to you then remember they
       have that right in international law and ensure that one day
       they go home to their family.

       "The ones who wish to fight, well, we aim to please.

       "If you harm the regiment or its history by over-enthusiasm in
       killing or in cowardice, know it is your family who will
       suffer. You will be shunned unless your conduct is of the
       highest for your deeds will follow you down through history. We
       will bring shame on neither our uniform or our nation.

       "As for ourselves, let's bring everyone home and leave Iraq a
       better place for us having been there.

       "Our business now is north."