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Thread: Musings from the Iraq Inquiry

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    Musings from the Iraq Inquiry

    I've been following the current inquiry into the Iraq War that's taking place in London. Last Friday was evidence from General Sir John Reith, Chief Joint Operations Aug 2001 - Jul 2004, Britain's top military planner.

    Here's an extract from the transcript. It's a tale of gung-ho Americans who can't wait to fire off their extraordinary firepower and a chap leading a bunch of Brits who haven't the least clue what conditions in Iraq actually were before they arrived, at which point their jaws dropped and they realized what a clunker of a war they'd bought into.
    GEN SIR JOHN REITH: At this stage [16th January 2003], as I said, I told him [General Franks] that the Prime Minister had agreed to the package, and so, therefore, you know, I'm making an assumption that he now expected us to participate. I would also say in this conversation that I had told him I was unhappy with the way the planning was going.

    THE CHAIRMAN: Because of delay and hold-up?

    GEN SIR JOHN REITH: No, because they were going into shock and awe, and we had been - we, the British, in the planning had been very much the custodians of, "Let's worry about Phase 4". So we got on to Phase 4 in our discussion and I made the point to Franks - because at this stage they were going to go rather as they had done in the Gulf War in 1991 - they were going to go with a fairly extended air campaign followed by a land entry but I made the point that the oil fields were absolutely essential for Phase 4, to provide revenue to Iraq for its reconstruction, and, therefore, we needed to secure the oil fields rather than have them destroyed. I also made the point to him that the more china that we broke, the more we would have to replace afterwards. So I left him with those thoughts, and, actually, between that meeting and obviously when we went in, they changed the phasing of the plan so that there was an early land entry.

    SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: This is important, obviously, in terms of Phase 4, because there are a number of phrases you have just used which I would like just to go over with you. Just in terms of what you have just said, this is - what you do in the Phases 2 and 3 that are going to affect Phase 4. That is, it is about using our air assets and what you destroyed through your air attacks and waiting until you have got a more permissive environment before you put in your land forces, and you are saying, if you are not careful on both of those areas, you will be in trouble for Phase 4?

    GEN SIR JOHN REITH: I mean, we had a fairly long discussion. I made the point that, you know, we were going in as the liberation of Iraq, we were actually going for a regime change, not to try and destroy Iraq, and, therefore, we needed to be very selective in our targeting to ensure that we were only taking out the command and control of the regime, and not, as the previous time, where we had taken down every bridge and so forth, which, of course, you know, caused huge damage, much of which was still not repaired when we went in in 2003.

    SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: Did you get a sense that this was a dazzling new insight to him? Shouldn't he have been concerned about these things already?

    GEN SIR JOHN REITH: He listened, and clearly he took note, because he made the changes. I have to say that my American counterparts were very much sort of combat-oriented. The American development of the American armed forces has been different to that of the British armed forces and they didn't have the benefit of years in Northern Ireland. So they, at that stage, were very much in combat mood looking at Phase 3, but, as you rightly said, one has to look beyond Phase 3 to know what to do in Phase 3.

    SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: When you described the UK as custodians of Phase 4, what did you mean by that?

    GEN SIR JOHN REITH: In the planning, at every opportunity, we had been feeding in the need to start thinking about Phase 4 and considering that in Phase 3, and what are we doing about Phase 4, and I was continually getting from Tommy Franks that the Americans had thought about Phase 4. There was a huge organisation in Washington They had a multimillion - I think looking at it. billion contract with Bechtel, and that it was all going to be all right. Well, we know what happened.

    SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: But - I mean, we now know what happened. Were you worried about what might happen?

    GEN SIR JOHN REITH: I was looking at Phase 4, at that stage, primarily at humanitarian assistance immediately after the combat phase, and in the build-up I had got authority for £2 million a month for humanitarian aid and an initial start-up of 20 million for quick impact projects, which I know you have been briefed on by other people before. So I was content that I had that money available. We had already started. For instance, Albert Whitley, who was my liaison officer with the combined force land component command in Kuwait, had been dealing with the Kuwaitis and they had already laid a water pipe right up to the border from water sources in Kuwait, which we almost straight after the - we had moved through on the combat phase extended up to Um Qasr, so that we could provide fresh water into southern Iraq. So there were a series of things going, but they were all related to the humanitarian assistance.

    All of our intelligence assets were looking at the combat phase. They were all looking at, you know, the Iraqi forces. What they weren't looking at was the infrastructure, and I have to say that, when we arrived in there, I was amazed, you know, at the fact that it was completely broken. I would say probably there had been no investment in the infrastructure for at least 20 years, and we found, you know, the state of the electricity power supply was outright dangerous and you had main pylons held together with bolts and all sorts of systems, which, you know, in a modern society wouldn't be allowed at all. So what we found when we arrived was that we weren't just having to deal with humanitarian assistance, we were having to, as best we could, kickstart the reconstruction for the essential services.
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    Re: Musings from the Iraq Inquiry

    This is playing straight into every prejudice I have about the US military (and government) and their inability to listen.

    Dammit guys. The only country in the world that actually likes you and you treat us like this? Even if we weren't right (with our long experience of colonial wars which the British Army is based on) why do you try so hard to make us loathe and despise you? You seem to do it to such an extent that you'd rather lose than take British advice.

    Ok it seems that the man on the ground tried to. Is it really just down to Cheney et al making money for Halliburton?

    If it is, change or die. Obama is your great hope.

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    Re: Musings from the Iraq Inquiry

    Quote Originally Posted by spot View Post
    I've been following the current inquiry into the Iraq War that's taking place in London. Last Friday was evidence from General Sir John Reith, Chief Joint Operations Aug 2001 - Jul 2004, Britain's top military planner.

    Here's an extract from the transcript. It's a tale of gung-ho Americans who can't wait to fire off their extraordinary firepower and a chap leading a bunch of Brits who haven't the least clue what conditions in Iraq actually were before they arrived, at which point their jaws dropped and they realized what a clunker of a war they'd bought into.
    GEN SIR JOHN REITH: At this stage [16th January 2003], as I said, I told him [General Franks] that the Prime Minister had agreed to the package, and so, therefore, you know, I'm making an assumption that he now expected us to participate. I would also say in this conversation that I had told him I was unhappy with the way the planning was going.

    THE CHAIRMAN: Because of delay and hold-up?

    GEN SIR JOHN REITH: No, because they were going into shock and awe, and we had been - we, the British, in the planning had been very much the custodians of, "Let's worry about Phase 4". So we got on to Phase 4 in our discussion and I made the point to Franks - because at this stage they were going to go rather as they had done in the Gulf War in 1991 - they were going to go with a fairly extended air campaign followed by a land entry but I made the point that the oil fields were absolutely essential for Phase 4, to provide revenue to Iraq for its reconstruction, and, therefore, we needed to secure the oil fields rather than have them destroyed. I also made the point to him that the more china that we broke, the more we would have to replace afterwards. So I left him with those thoughts, and, actually, between that meeting and obviously when we went in, they changed the phasing of the plan so that there was an early land entry.

    SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: This is important, obviously, in terms of Phase 4, because there are a number of phrases you have just used which I would like just to go over with you. Just in terms of what you have just said, this is - what you do in the Phases 2 and 3 that are going to affect Phase 4. That is, it is about using our air assets and what you destroyed through your air attacks and waiting until you have got a more permissive environment before you put in your land forces, and you are saying, if you are not careful on both of those areas, you will be in trouble for Phase 4?

    GEN SIR JOHN REITH: I mean, we had a fairly long discussion. I made the point that, you know, we were going in as the liberation of Iraq, we were actually going for a regime change, not to try and destroy Iraq, and, therefore, we needed to be very selective in our targeting to ensure that we were only taking out the command and control of the regime, and not, as the previous time, where we had taken down every bridge and so forth, which, of course, you know, caused huge damage, much of which was still not repaired when we went in in 2003.

    SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: Did you get a sense that this was a dazzling new insight to him? Shouldn't he have been concerned about these things already?

    GEN SIR JOHN REITH: He listened, and clearly he took note, because he made the changes. I have to say that my American counterparts were very much sort of combat-oriented. The American development of the American armed forces has been different to that of the British armed forces and they didn't have the benefit of years in Northern Ireland. So they, at that stage, were very much in combat mood looking at Phase 3, but, as you rightly said, one has to look beyond Phase 3 to know what to do in Phase 3.

    SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: When you described the UK as custodians of Phase 4, what did you mean by that?

    GEN SIR JOHN REITH: In the planning, at every opportunity, we had been feeding in the need to start thinking about Phase 4 and considering that in Phase 3, and what are we doing about Phase 4, and I was continually getting from Tommy Franks that the Americans had thought about Phase 4. There was a huge organisation in Washington They had a multimillion - I think looking at it. billion contract with Bechtel, and that it was all going to be all right. Well, we know what happened.

    SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: But - I mean, we now know what happened. Were you worried about what might happen?

    GEN SIR JOHN REITH: I was looking at Phase 4, at that stage, primarily at humanitarian assistance immediately after the combat phase, and in the build-up I had got authority for £2 million a month for humanitarian aid and an initial start-up of 20 million for quick impact projects, which I know you have been briefed on by other people before. So I was content that I had that money available. We had already started. For instance, Albert Whitley, who was my liaison officer with the combined force land component command in Kuwait, had been dealing with the Kuwaitis and they had already laid a water pipe right up to the border from water sources in Kuwait, which we almost straight after the - we had moved through on the combat phase extended up to Um Qasr, so that we could provide fresh water into southern Iraq. So there were a series of things going, but they were all related to the humanitarian assistance.

    All of our intelligence assets were looking at the combat phase. They were all looking at, you know, the Iraqi forces. What they weren't looking at was the infrastructure, and I have to say that, when we arrived in there, I was amazed, you know, at the fact that it was completely broken. I would say probably there had been no investment in the infrastructure for at least 20 years, and we found, you know, the state of the electricity power supply was outright dangerous and you had main pylons held together with bolts and all sorts of systems, which, you know, in a modern society wouldn't be allowed at all. So what we found when we arrived was that we weren't just having to deal with humanitarian assistance, we were having to, as best we could, kickstart the reconstruction for the essential services.
    If you actually buy that, then I have a seafront home in Phoenix Arizona I'll sell you.

    Actually I was wondering if you were watching the last few days. Those guys are lying through their teeth! I watched the Alistair Cambell one while I was writing my essay. Blairs man to the bitter end.
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    Re: Musings from the Iraq Inquiry

    The one I would like to have heard is Robin Cook. I reckon if he had not dies he would be leader of the labour party by now. As it is I think they are finished as a viable political party at least in the short term.

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    Re: Musings from the Iraq Inquiry

    You know it. The 'special relationship' is code for thick as thieves when it comes to big contracts and splitting the spoils.
    ~Quoth the Raven, Nevermore!~

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    Re: Musings from the Iraq Inquiry

    The 'special relationship' is code for thick as thieves when it comes to big contracts and splitting the spoils.
    So where's our share of the loot???????

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    Senior Member Bryn Mawr's Avatar
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    Re: Musings from the Iraq Inquiry

    Quote Originally Posted by Clodhopper View Post
    So where's our share of the loot???????
    Didn't you know, we're non-American and have to queue up with everyone else and bid for the 10% not reserved for American companies :-(

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    Re: Musings from the Iraq Inquiry

    Bryn: I rather thought so.

    No doubt I'm shockingly naive. But if a British General of good reputation says that is what happened, I believe he believes that is what happened. The Armed Forces still have a code of personal honour - anachronistic as it sounds.

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    Re: Musings from the Iraq Inquiry

    I'd go with that too, the chap being essentially honest and believable.

    The CIA often set out to find or generate blackmail material on up-and-coming foreigners, I've often wondered whether that explained the incomprehensible behaviour of people like Tony Blair. I don't think it could apply to this chap though, his decision-making is out in the open by comparison.
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    From the upper tier of the Leppings Lane End of the Hillsborough Stadium, I watched the events of that day unfold with horror.
    When the flowers want to oxygen and nutrition, or you’re a wedding or party planner, I will help you too much.
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    Re: Musings from the Iraq Inquiry

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    Quote Originally Posted by Clodhopper View Post
    This is playing straight into every prejudice I have about the US military (and government) and their inability to listen.

    Dammit guys. The only country in the world that actually likes you and you treat us like this? Even if we weren't right (with our long experience of colonial wars which the British Army is based on) why do you try so hard to make us loathe and despise you? You seem to do it to such an extent that you'd rather lose than take British advice.

    Ok it seems that the man on the ground tried to. Is it really just down to Cheney et al making money for Halliburton?

    If it is, change or die. Obama is your great hope.

    hysterical....you really like us you loathe and despise us...
    WTF....What a sh*t post for you to make

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