Whitehall amateurs caused Iraq deaths, says Viggers

#1
The senior British army commander in Iraq after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein condemned senior Whitehall civil servants yesterday as “amateurs” whose decisions led to people being killed.

Lieutenant-General Sir Frederick Viggers called for more training of civilian officials and government ministers at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Ministry of Defence.

He told the official inquiry into the Iraq war that the lessons learnt from the problems after the overthrow of Saddam’s regime could apply to the occupation of Afghanistan.

General Viggers said that there had been a lack of planning and strategic thinking for running the country after the speed of the military operation. “We have huge experience in this country and we are not using it. And we are putting amateurs into really, really important positions and people are getting killed as a result of some of these decisions,” he said. “It’s a huge responsibility and I just don’t sense we are living up to it.”
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/iraq/article6951019.ece
 

Biped

LE
Book Reviewer
#3
Funny old game ain't it?

I only commented about Rammel yesterday in the 'Question Time Thread' about the fact that Rammel was a rank amateur who was unnacceptably over-promoted to roles to which he is quite clearly unsuitable.

It would seem that Labour has a long and distinguished history of promoting thickos and incompetents to roles and departments that, in truth, require skilled stewardship. Defence Minister would be a good example, or an even better example of Labour's failure in promoting the right people would be Gordon Brown as Chancellor, followed by Prime Minister.

The Ministers, department heads and advisors associated with the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts being the tip of the iceberg, albeit a tip that has brought about failures that have had devastating effects with regard to loss of forces personnel, as well as the failure of the rapid promotion of stability and peace in both countries.
 
#4
What do you expect from a bunch of former student activists, who have no love for the Armed Forces (unless it's a photo-oportunity) and of whom most have never had a proper job.
 
#5
Freddie - you are the man, stand up and take a bow! What? Oh you are standing up already? Well take a bow sir!
 
#6
When the dummy in charge can't read and write, spell, what do you expect
 
#7
If we could stick to a debate on Viggers comments please?
 
#8
He isn't the first to comment on the lack of planning for post Saddam Iraq. We all know about failing to plan.
 
#9
Yokel said:
He isn't the first to comment on the lack of planning for post Saddam Iraq. We all know about failing to plan.
One important difference betwen military officers and CS is that the former are actually formally taught to plan. There is no equivalent in other government departments of 7Qs, estimates, sync matrices, etc, etc - or certainly not to the point where it is an ingrained part of CS culture. Nor is there really much that could be called doctrine in most other departments.

In the obscure patch of cross-Whitehall work I was involved in during 2004-08 it was common for the team to look to the military rep to do the 'campaign planning' (I know, that's very pretentious in this context) because that was a process they were very good at.

C_C
 
#10
I can support C-C's comments on planning - speak to most OGDs and the one thing they don't do, but envy us for, is our ability to plan. Having played on several large exercises involving OGDs, this has proved correct. Don't get me wrong, there's some pretty bright fast streamers, but if you don't give them the tools, how can you expect them to do the right thing. Perhaps a version of JOTAC for at least Fast Stream CSs followed by ICSC, and even ACSC would be useful?

The other thing not mentioned in this thread is none other than : Clare Short, who having taken the 'ump about the war, apparently completely forbade her department (DFID) from any form of co-operation with the MOD in pre-war and post-war planning. Whilst I admire her for her principles, she should have simply stepped aside, and not gotten in the way.
 

FORMER_FYRDMAN

LE
Book Reviewer
#11
Charm_City said:
Yokel said:
He isn't the first to comment on the lack of planning for post Saddam Iraq. We all know about failing to plan.
One important difference betwen military officers and CS is that the latter are actually formally taught to plan. There is no equivalent in other government departments of 7Qs, estimates, sync matrices, etc, etc - or certainly not to the point where it is an ingrained part of CS culture. Nor is there really much that could be called doctrine in most other departments.

(Snip)

C_C
You've lost me there - is that a typo or are you saying that military officers are not taught to plan? I've met officers who gave this impression but I'm sure some hapless instructor at some point had tried to impart planning wisdom in a formal setting.
 
#12
The truth will out!
 
#13
FORMER_FYRDMAN said:
Charm_City said:
Yokel said:
He isn't the first to comment on the lack of planning for post Saddam Iraq. We all know about failing to plan.
One important difference betwen military officers and CS is that the latter are actually formally taught to plan. There is no equivalent in other government departments of 7Qs, estimates, sync matrices, etc, etc - or certainly not to the point where it is an ingrained part of CS culture. Nor is there really much that could be called doctrine in most other departments.

(Snip)

C_C
You've lost me there - is that a typo or are you saying that military officers are not taught to plan? I've met officers who gave this impression but I'm sure some hapless instructor at some point had tried to impart planning wisdom in a formal setting.
Edited to make sense - red face time.

C_C
 
#14
Charm_City said:
One important difference betwen military officers and CS is that the former are actually formally taught to plan. There is no equivalent in other government departments of 7Qs, estimates, sync matrices, etc, etc - or certainly not to the point where it is an ingrained part of CS culture. Nor is there really much that could be called doctrine in most other departments.
Hmm - I guess that the several thousand experience project managers at DE&S must be a figment of our imagination then? These are the same bods that buy all the UOR kit.

It's all just a matter of different terminology and most military find that they can slot comfortably into project management or industry roles.

7Qs = Project initation document
Estimates = planning and business case
Sync matrix = project schedule
 
#15
Lets not forget though that the tools are just one part of the package - you need to know how to use them to best effect. Many projects have followed PRINCE 2 methodology only to find themselves over budget and late, and that's where PM and Military Planning start becoming an art form, rather than a paint by numbers process!
 
#16
Gun_Nut said:
Hmm - I guess that the several thousand experience project managers at DE&S must be a figment of our imagination then? These are the same bods that buy all the UOR kit.

It's all just a matter of different terminology and most military find that they can slot comfortably into project management or industry roles.

7Qs = Project initation document
Estimates = planning and business case
Sync matrix = project schedule
Wouldn't disagree Gun Nut.

On the original point.

BRITFOR in Iraq found itself dealing with amateurs in Whitehall, this seems from my own experience to be about as an accurate a statement that could be made.

I fully acknowledge that many of those we were dealing with, were equally frustrated with the lack of direction / resource allocation. Interestingly, although not entirely unsurprisingly, those with Op experience had little difficulty understanding the impossible situation that was being allowed to develop on the ground.

As is now becoming clear (and isn't it refreshing to see just how many are now feeling inclined to speak out six years down the line), the impact on TELIC, as we went from War-Fighting to stabilisation, was to effectively hang us out to dry. And therefore by definition, the people of Southern Iraq ended up picking up the tab, for the blustering in Whitehall.

I've often referred on these boards that the "on the ground" footprint of lead government departments was "light". On reflection, this term is very wrong. The "amateurs" comment is probably easily justified in the this context; We invade, and have an AO, the size of Wales. To support this large scale military operation, Whitehall has a total number of operational CS on the ground, that would not have been capable of manning a planning department in a borough council in this country.

As eodmatt has commented: "The truth will out"

Interesting I guess to consider this simple "truth" - Whitehall was happy to bend over backwards to ensure that the media was looked after. Possibly one of those journalist types who was so well looked after in the PIC would ask the question, along the following lines?

Is it true that the number of "Political Advisors" and "Media Ops" CS deployed on TELIC exceeded, the number of operational DfID staff in theatre by a ratio of about 2:1?

If this was the case, one could almost be forgiven for thinking that the Prime Minister of the time was more concerned with the presentation of the war and its aftermath to the British public, then minimising any future loss / injury of BRITFOR and genuine concern / the need to take decisive actions, for the situation HMG was then / is now responsible for inflicting on the people of Southern Iraq.
 
#18
Hellmond is three times the size of Wales, it was that stupid seniour RAF officer who said that it was the size of Wales first, I bet he was a navigator
 
#19
tropper66 said:
Hellmond is three times the size of Wales, it was that stupid seniour RAF officer who said that it was the size of Wales first, I bet he was a navigator
Just to make clear tropper - my analogy referred to TELIC and not HERRICK.

Although to complete the analogy, and being where you are - maybe start comparing the number of CS in Cardif, that are required to "run" Wales, and then ask how many would be required in Basra (the comparison works on several levels) to "run" Southern Iraq?
 
#20
ABrighter2006 said:
Wouldn't disagree Gun Nut.

On the original point.

BRITFOR in Iraq found itself dealing with amateurs in Whitehall, this seems from my own experience to be about as an accurate a statement that could be made.

I fully acknowledge that many of those we were dealing with, were equally frustrated with the lack of direction / resource allocation. Interestingly, although not entirely unsurprisingly, those with Op experience had little difficulty understanding the impossible situation that was being allowed to develop on the ground.

As is now becoming clear (and isn't it refreshing to see just how many are now feeling inclined to speak out six years down the line), the impact on TELIC, as we went from War-Fighting to stabilisation, was to effectively hang us out to dry. And therefore by definition, the people of Southern Iraq ended up picking up the tab, for the blustering in Whitehall.

I've often referred on these boards that the "on the ground" footprint of lead government departments was "light". On reflection, this term is very wrong. The "amateurs" comment is probably easily justified in the this context; We invade, and have an AO, the size of Wales. To support this large scale military operation, Whitehall has a total number of operational CS on the ground, that would not have been capable of manning a planning department in a borough council in this country.

As eodmatt has commented: "The truth will out"

Interesting I guess to consider this simple "truth" - Whitehall was happy to bend over backwards to ensure that the media was looked after. Possibly one of those journalist types who was so well looked after in the PIC would ask the question, along the following lines?

Is it true that the number of "Political Advisors" and "Media Ops" CS deployed on TELIC exceeded, the number of operational DfID staff in theatre by a ratio of about 2:1?

If this was the case, one could almost be forgiven for thinking that the Prime Minister of the time was more concerned with the presentation of the war and its aftermath to the British public, then minimising any future loss / injury of BRITFOR and genuine concern / the need to take decisive actions, for the situation HMG was then / is now responsible for inflicting on the people of Southern Iraq.
Thankyou.
It's only when someone who knows where the bodies are buried that we, who were not there, understand the true superficialty of what went on.