July  
2009

Vol 9 - No. 1


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LETTER FROM U.K.


 

               

 

Army Chief Dannatt admits Britain ‘failed’ in Iraq

The outgoing chief of the British army General Sir Richard Dannatt has admitted the UK failure in Iraq war.

He said that the UK “failed” to stabilize Iraq after the 2003 invasion due to the focus shifted to Afghanistan.

Dannatt said that Britain allowed southern Iraq to deteriorate by switching its resources to Afghanistan in an illogical and hasty act.

The 58-year-old army chief added that coalition forces missed “a window of consent” in the immediate aftermath of the invasion to address Iraq’s security and basic needs, and doing so allowed the rise of militia groups.

“Our failure to deliver this and the early switch to an economy of force operation in favor of Afghanistan sowed the seeds for the dissatisfaction that followed and the rise of the militias,” he added.

Dannatt said that the coalition had also failed to ensure it had enough troops on the ground, “surging” the numbers when the situation demanded.

“In truth, we failed to maintain the force levels required, both of coalition forces or Iraqi forces, and particularly towards the later end of the campaign, by which time we were already committed to a new operation in Afghanistan,” he said.

The senior general also acknowledged that the Iraqi security forces were not properly trained and were deployed too quickly, stressing that “time”, “expertise” and “resources” are needed to develop “loyal, well-trained, well-equipped and well-led local security forces”.

Dannatt, who is retiring and is due to step down at the end of August, also called on the British forces not to repeat the same “mistakes” in Afghanistan where British forces look set to remain “for the foreseeable future”.

It is worth mentioning here that his comments came just as the British government finally authorized an inquiry into the country’s role in the Iraq war, after years of delay. 

In a statement to MPs establishing the inquiry on June 15, Prime Minister Brown said it would be modelled on the Franks inquiry which examined the events leading up to the Falklands war in 1982. That met in secret.

The prime minister said: "Evidence will be heard in private. I believe that that will also ensure that evidence given by serving and former ministers, military officers and officials is as full and candid as possible."

Brown said that the inquiry would be independent of the government. No political figures would sit on the five-strong committee of privy councillors which will be chaired by Sir John Chilcot, former permanent secretary of the Northern Ireland Office.

"The prime minister appears to have broken with the precedent of Franks after failing to consult widely with the opposition parties. Margaret Thatcher consulted with Michael Foot, leader of the Labour party, and David Steel, leader of the ­Liberal party," writes Nicholas in The Guardian.

The inquiry is to begin work next month and is to examine mistakes made before, during and after the 2003 US-led invasion, it was reported.

So far, two inquiries the Hutton and Butler inquiries have been held into aspects of the Iraq war.

The Butler inquiry looked at intelligence failures claiming that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction while the Hutton inquiry examined the circumstances surrounding the death of former government adviser David Kelly in 2003.

Britain had 46,000 troops stationed in Iraq. Nearly 180 British service personnel lost their lives during the six-year operation of the UK military, which ended in April.

- With files from SANA

 

 

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