Dont repeat Iraq mistakes in Afghanistan, says army chief

Discussion in 'Current Affairs, News and Analysis' started by Skynet, Jun 23, 2009.

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  1. Don't repeat Iraq mistakes in Afghanistan, says army chief

    Richard Norton-Taylor, Tuesday 23 June 2009 18.50 BST

    General Sir Richard Dannatt, the head of the army, has admitted that Britain made serious mistakes in Iraq and warned the government of the dangers of repeating them in Afghanistan.

    "In truth we failed to maintain the forces levels required," he said, adding that Britain had missed the opportunity to stabilise Iraq after the 2003 invasion.

    Dannatt was delivering a speech at a Royal United Services Institute conference at a time when the defence budget, and the army's in particular, is under increasing pressure. In remarks addressed to ministers and the Treasury, he warned against making "false economies".
    More on the link
  2. Was about to have a rant, but then noticed he was accusing the govt of the mistakes :)

    Of course we will make mistakes on the ground when given next to nothing, have our hands tied and then asked to perform miracles :)

    oh to be an MP who has money and resources thrown at them and asked to do sweet FA most of the time, I can understand why they are bemused when we complain about our lot
  3. Bolleaux, the Army should never have agreed to the Iraq invasion with Afghanistan unfixed. A terrible military decision to fight a war on two fronts with stretched forces and scarce resources. If the Chiefs of Staff had balls they would have said no and Blair wouldn't have been able to have his world headlines.

    I normally agree with Dannatt over pretty much everything, but, he needs to look much closer to home, to his spineless brass hatters, politicised and unafraid to speak out against the stupidity of a Govt with no military experience amongst its key decision makers.

    Iraq was a disaster, a disaster predicted by many people. I only hope the Iraqis can make a go of it now. We, the British lost a lot of shine in that godforsaken place.

    Just to compound the misery, when there was plenty of evidence of overstretch and poor equipment, the same brass hats agreed to the deployment of troops in Afghanistan in 2006. If it wasn't for incredible bravery in adversity we could have been overrun, in an operation where a shot might not need to be fired. Military planning was s**t.
  4. Dannatt is right of course. Fighting on two fronts simultaneously is never a good idea, not least for the British armed forces who rarely feature high on the governments list of priorities. I am looking forward with interest to his first round of post retirement interviews which should be an uncomfortable experience for Brown, Blair etc.

    The real issue of course, which he implies, is that all three services are too small to adequately cope with the requirements imposed on them by HMG. We need larger forces, properly equipped and resourced. But Defence has no chance at all of achieving any of these in the current political and financial climate, even if (a big if too) the will to do it was there in the first place.
  5. msr

    msr LE

    Or fewer tasks.
  6. Since when are the military commanders able to say no to the PM? They're able to present alternatives and options, but they can't say no- orders is orders!
  7. I concur. However, there is a wee problem in this line of thought.

    The military is a relatively expensive enterprise to have sitting around doing nothing. The 'brass' recognised a decade or two past that to justify the size of the military budget, the military had to be seen to be busy. Do nothing, sit around idly - and ships, squadrons and battalions will simply be chopped. How can a New Labour government justify the expense of sending squaddies on adventure training to the four corners of the world (and Soltau, Brecon etc) whilst their core supporters of the welfare class demand a new pair of Nike road slappers, a new plasma TV and free broadband access? Nope. The military must be on medium scale or larger operations permanently or they will be cut to an even greater extent than already seen and expected.

    And therein lies the conundrum. Having now spend the best part a decade 'stretched', the precedence has been set. The military can cope with this level of tasks and has proven such. Thus, and reduction in tasks will result in simple orbat cuts.

    Just to survive, the brass has to work the military to overstretch!
  8. The policy of 'gagging' civil servants (military and other) is one of the gravest ill-liberal consequences of a 'liberal' civil democracy.
  9. I disagree. Every commander, at every level, has a responsibility to make an appreciation of any given situation/ set of orders and act as they see fit. EVERY officer and soldier has a duty to disobey an order under certain circumstances (geneva convention as aprime example etc) or, in the case of a senior officer, resign, if the circumstances or potentential outcomes of following an order are so severe that that is the only honourable course left open.

    The Chiefs of staff were asked to go to war with outdated/ insufficient equipment/ troop numbers knowing that to do so would almost certainly lead to avoidable deaths and injuries. Sometimes that is what is required of us as an army and we pay the price in blood; sometimes the generals have to say "no Sir, not in my name" and they pay the price in lost face and pension rights. It is, in my view, part of the covenant. Nuff said!
  10. I absolutely agree old colt, sadly, I only heard that the can do approach is still prevalent in the RAF, it would appear the boys in blue are tripping over each other in a continuous effort to compete with and look good in front of the Army. Commanders continue to look above them without as much as a glance below them.

    Top Brass do not know how to say know. Dannatt easily came closest to telling the communists running the country where to go. I am looking forward to his comments when he retires, he is a man I will still listen to.