This blog site has been established with one purpose in mind: to counter the closed-door whitewash that the government is promoting as an Iraq War inquiry.
Now, how will this blog work? It will be a multi-user blog with informed posting and commentary from across the blogosphere. However, this blog will seek to elicit and publish information that the government wants to keep secret. One of the authors is a former Armed Forces officer who worked in a support role in advance of, and during, the Iraq War. There are plenty of Armed Forces personnel and civil servants who have retired since 2003 and who know a few things. I do not expect a smoking gun, but I do expect a very revealing jigsaw once the pieces are assembled. I encourage those in government and the Armed Forces to supply the remaining pieces of the jigsaw – ideally including the Cabinet minutes, which I pledge to post on here if leaked to myself. However, this blog needs to consider personnel and operational security and those “in the know” will know what that means: there are still troops in Afghanistan. The Official Secrets Act is for protecting secrets, not officials, despite what the government wants.
My initial comments on Not the Iraq Inquiry:
+ The NTNI should consider events since the First Gulf War of 1990, albeit with a light touch for the first half of that decade. The resolution invoked in 2003 dates from 1991.
+ Defence planning assumptions from the Defence White Paper of 1998 should be considered.
+ The sanctions regime operated by UNSCOM should be considered in detail up to the point of the withdrawal of weapons inspectors in 1998 (this will include UN reports and UK intelligence assessments)
+ The NTNI should consider the events leading up to, and surrounding Operation DESERT FOX as the prelude to what became the Iraq War
+ The regime change agenda of the US government from the inauguration of George W Bush should be considered prior to September 11 2001.
+ The strategic aims and planning assumptions for operations in Afghanistan from September 2001 should be considered in relation to the strategic aims and planning assumptions for Iraq.
+ UK and US foreign and defence policy from September 2001 onwards should be considered in detail, in particular the operations of government.
+ Intelligence assessments with regard to Iraq WMDs for the period September 2001 onwards should be considered in forensic detail, focusing on both internal government assessments and external information provision (the ‘dodgy dossiers’).
+ The legality of offensive operations against Iraq should be considered in detail.
+ The UN resolution process prior to operations in Iraq should be considered.
+ UK operational war planning (from 2002 onwards) should be considered in detail, including resourcing.
+ UK Defence logistics procurement and supply should be considered in detail for all periods of planning and operations, including pre-war UORs (urgent operational requirements).
+ Boards of Inquiry and coroners’ inquests into certain losses of lives should be considered in detail.
+ Coalition guidance to commanders on prisoner handling and the conduct of operations should be considered.
It is likely that the impartial consideration of all the above would result in conclusions including that:
+ UNSCOM monitoring was largely effective until scientists were withdrawn prior to DESERT FOX
+ Regime change in Iraq was considered by the US government prior to 2001, albeit probably as part of a “wish list.”
+ The events of September 11 2001 were identified – at some point afterwards – as a catalyst for an invasion of Iraq.
+ Operations in Afghanistan were severely disrupted by the preparations for, and the war, in Iraq and post-war occupation.
+ UK defence planning assumptions did not support the simultaneous conduct of two medium-intensity operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
+ Intelligence was selectively interpreted to justify the war, and embellished as a propaganda campaign prior to the war.
+ The decision to invade was taken at some point in June or July 2002 and operational war planning commenced shortly afterwards.
+ Gaps in equipment capability were identified as part of the war planning process.
+ UK equipment procurement and supply decisions were deferred until it was deemed politically expedient, to avoid loss of political support.
+ The conduct of military operations was as professional as would be expected in the tradition of the Armed Forces, and in line with established doctrine and tactics.
+ The conduct of military operations was limited by lack of troops and specific equipment and the difficulty of sustaining two medium-intensity operations simultaneously.
+ All UK Services – and their families - suffered from varying degrees of overstretch, which has now become endemic.
+ Planning assumptions for the occupation phase were grossly flawed – at the coalition level in particular.
+ There was little or no public support for the war other than the expected support for British personnel.
+ The war caused significant damage to the UK’s international reputation and relationships with other nations.
+ The war increased the domestic terrorism threat to the UK and this elevated level still persists.
That’s my starter for ten. Join the debate – reasoned and informed debate, pertinent information, but no tin-foil hats please: the truth is likely to be grubby enough. My nom de blog here is Veritas – those who were in uniform in 2002 will know what this means, and it also has another meaning that is desperately in need of application with regard to Iraq. Hopefully the next few weeks will see further inquiry debate and we can commence evidence sessions to mirror the actual inquiry.