I spent over two years in Iraq in the aftermath of the invasion between 2005 and 2007, working for a private security company (PSC) that was providing security to the American, Department of Defence, during the reconstruction phase. But yesterdays publication of over 2 millions words just didn’t do it for me, so many unanswered questions.
Iraq for me it was a fascinating time in which I found myself at the forefront of Western foreign policy. A period of personal excitement in an environment that can best be described as chaos. Ever since, I’ve been trying to make sense of the events leading up to War in Iraq, my research taking me to study at St Andrews Universities Centre for the Study or Terrorism and Political Violence (CSPTV).
I’m not surprised that Chilcot did not answer the emotive questions that have been raised ever since the decision was made to support the American invasion. Why should he? Why should one member of the establishment question his peers on their actions? Its not the done thing.
The lack of a UN mandate and the WMD intelligence will be argued over by politicians and lawyers for generations to come. Tony Blair will not admit that he was wrong, he’s a politician, its unthinkable. So I would rather not get embroiled with the argument whether it was right or wrong to go to war. However, I would like to share a standing academic joke regarding plagiarism and the biggest ever case there of. It involved an American Phd students thesis, its contents being stolen and used in the ‘Dodgy Dossier’ which was used as justification for the invasion – you can make up your own mind.
My focus is on providing a duty of care, because even a soldier in a war scenario is owed one. The then Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon went on the record and claimed ‘that soldiers had all the equipment they needed,’ but this was basically a lie. They did not, take the case of Sergeant Steven Roberts who was killed after being ordered to return his body armour due to the shortages of equipment an example. And then of course there is the case of the ‘Snatch Land Rovers.’
The ‘Snatch’ was designed for use in ‘low threat’ areas, but became the vehicle of choice because Brit Mil had an abundance of them. But it soon became evident that they were not fit for purpose, the protection against the road side bombs, woefully inadequate, (a point I make in my novel Damascus Redemption). The Americans identified this threat and took steps to mitigate it. In 2003 they began to ‘up-armour- their version of the Snatch, the Humvee. And yet it was not until 2007 – March to be precise – that I saw the first of the new generation Brit Mil armoured vehicles show up at Basra Air Station.
My question then and now is: with armoured vehicles being available to ‘buy off the shelf’, why did it take four years for Brit Mil to react?
And even after they were identified as being a death trap Brit Mil carried on using them. With soldiers put at risk, this time on the streets of Kabul.
I understand that soldiers work in under a different remit to civilians, the very nature of their vocation putting them in harms way – I know I was one. But there were needless deaths in Iraq. One of the questions of the inquiry being; was the UK prepared to go to war, has to be a resounding NO.
Its typical government. Dont give a t##s about soldiers during peacetime and do not fund the services. Both parties slash defence then send them to war undercut and underfunded. Thatcher went to do it but the military were saved by the Falklands. The kit coming from the lowest bidder, By using snatch, a vehicle used for low intensity threat areas. Even in Northern Ireland they they had armour on them in high threat areas, even saxon would have more chance. The government see’s it as cheaper to have dead soldiers than millions spent on kit that may never be needed. The British military have been a victim of their own sucess, by carrying out operations on shoestring budgets with limited kit they are expected to do it continously.
I couldn’t have said it better myslef Scott. A soldier is aware that someday he might have to put his life on the line, what he deserves is to be properly equipped and supported. It still smacks of the First World War adage of ‘Lions lead by Donkeys.’