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THE WEEKLY WORLD EDITION OF The Daily Telegraph AND The Sunday Telegraph
November 25 - December 1 2009 No. 957
100 TV SHOWS that defined the decade
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By Andrew Gilligan
THE “appalling” errors that contributed to Britain’s failure in Iraq have been disclosed in the most detailed and damning set of leaks to emerge on the conflict.
On the eve of the Chilcot inquiry into Britain’s involvement in the 2003 invasion and its aftermath, The Telegraph obtained hundreds of pages of secret government reports on “lessons learnt” that shed new light on “significant
‘Your face doesn’t ring a
bell _ are you the
Herman van Rompuy is made President of the European Council World News, page 15
shortcomings” at all levels. They include full transcripts of extraordinarily frank classified interviews in which British Army commanders vent their frustration and anger with ministers and Whitehall officials.
The reports disclose that: ÞTony Blair, prime minister at the time, misled MPs and the public throughout 2002 when he claimed that Britain’s objective was “disarmament, not regime change” and that there had been no planning for military action. In fact, British military planning for a full invasion and regime change began in February 2002. ÞThe need to conceal this from Parliament and all but “very small numbers” of officials “constrained” the planning process. The result was a “rushed” operation “lacking in coherence and resources”, which caused “significant risk” to troops and “critical failure” in the post-war period. Þ Operations were so underresourced that some troops went into action with only five rounds of ammunition each. Others had to deploy to war on civilian airlines, taking their equipment as hand luggage. Some troops had weapons confiscated by airport security. ÞCommanders reported that
the Army’s main radio system “tended to drop out at around noon each day because of the heat”. One described the supply chain as “absolutely appalling”, saying: “I know for a fact that there was one container full of skis in the desert.” ÞThe Foreign Office unit to plan for post-war Iraq was set up only in late February, 2003, three weeks before the war started. ÞThe plans “contained no detail once Baghdad had fallen”, causing a “notable loss of momentum” that was exploited by insurgents. Field commanders raged at Whitehall’s “appalling” and “horrifying” lack of support for reconstruction, with one top officer saying that the Government “missed a golden opportunity” to win Iraqi support. Another commander said: “It was not unlike 1750s colonialism, where the military had to do everything ourselves.”
The documents emerged days before public hearings begin in the Iraq Inquiry, the tribunal appointed under Sir John Chilcot, a former Whitehall civil servant, to “identify lessons that can be learnt from the Iraq conflict”.
Senior military officers and relatives of the dead have warned Sir John against a
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TWO people are dead and a third is missing after England’s wettest day on record left hundreds of people homeless.
Soldiers have been brought in to help the emergency services
cope with fallout from the flooding, while the worst affected areas brace themselves for more rain. The deluge, described by Hilary Benn, the Environment Secretary, as a “once in a thousand year event”,
destroyed flood defences built only four years ago and led to the evacuation of 1,000 homes in Cockermouth and Workington.
Swollen rivers also caused flooding in north Wales and Dumfries and
Galloway. With heavy rain forecast again this week, residents of the worst-hit areas were bracing themselves for the possibility of the water rising again.
Reports, page 3