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  • Overstreached british Army nearly seized up in 2006.

    General Sir Richard Dannatt, a former chief of the general staff, arrives to give evidence to the Iraq inquiry. Photograph: Oli Scarff/Getty Images

    A former army chief said today that the British army came close to "seizing up" over Iraq because troops were "overstretched".

    Giving evidence to the Chilcot inquiry into the Iraq war earlier today, General Sir Richard Dannatt told the panel that the decision by Tony Blair, the then prime minister, to commit British troops to Helmand at the same time as the force in Iraq was facing a growing insurgency presented a "perfect storm" for the army.

    Dannatt, who succeeded General Sir Mike Jackson in August 2006, explained how a relatively benign situation in Iraq in 2003 began to worsen over the following two years. With a desire to commit more forces to Afghanistan, Dannatt told the inquiry: "We were caught on the horns of a dilemma."

    He said the army was "running hot" at the end of 2006.

    "You can run hot when you are in balance and there is enough oil sloshing around the engine to keep it going. When the oil is thin, or not in sufficient quantity, the engine runs the risk of seizing up," he told the inquiry.

    "I think we were getting quite close to a seizing-up moment in 2006."

    On the double demands of Iraq and Helmand, he said: "We could see that perfect storm coming to fruition in about the middle of 2006 and I would contend that it did."

    Dannatt admitted that British forces may have looked "flat-footed" compared to the Americans, who radically changed their tactics as the war in Iraq went on.

    He praised the way the American military under General David Petraeus turned around the Iraq campaign from 2007, while the British stuck to the previous policy, which was to hand over progressively to Iraqi control.

    "Against that description of them adapting quickly, in Iraq we may have looked a bit flat-footed," said Dannatt.

    "But I would maintain the circumstances were rather different. They were reinforcing their campaign. They were surging their troop numbers. They were spreading themselves in small bases throughout the population, getting among the people, whereas we were doing absolutely the opposite."

    The provision of military equipment also came under scrutiny. Documents released today by the inquiry reveal how Dannatt's predecessor, Jackson, warned that the UK's helicopter fleet in Iraq was "creaking badly" and "inadequate" after visiting British forces in Iraq in late 2005. Jackson also told the head of the armed forces that air transport provision for getting troops and equipment to and from the Middle East was even worse.

    Dannatt today strongly criticised the failure to find a replacement for the army's lightly-armoured Snatch Land Rovers, which proved highly vulnerable in Iraq.

    Secret documents released today as part of the ongoing inquiry revealed that ministers were formally warned that the military needed an alternative to the Snatch Land Rover part-way through the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. A general told the government in July 2006 that frontline commanders wanted better-protected vehicles so they could carry out missions "without unnecessary casualties".

    But British troops continued to be killed and injured in the lightly armoured Snatch, which is vulnerable to roadside bombs, for several more years.

    Dannatt told the inquiry: "It remains unsatisfactory that it is only now that we have closed with the issue. We worked round the problem, we didn't actually confront the problem."

    He also outlined to the inquiry how a programme to acquire a new family of armoured vehicles known as the Future Rapid Effects System (Fres) fell victim to "internal machinations" within the Ministry of Defence

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2010/ju...ed-army-seized

    for a more detailed blow by blow account of the testimony

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/blog/20...e-jackson-iraq

  • #2
    General Sir *Richard Dannatt said he only heard of the UK’s lead role in Helmand when Blair announced it at a 2004 summit. Photograph: Dylan Martinez/Reuters

    Tony Blair bounced military commanders into deploying large numbers of British troops to Afghanistan while they were facing a growing insurgency in Iraq, leaving the army close to "seizing up", the Chilcot inquiry was told today.

    General Sir Richard Dannatt, former head of the army, painted a disturbing picture at the top of Britain's military of an overstretched army near to breaking point in "a perfect storm".

    He described how he heard of Blair's announcement at a Nato summit in June 2004 that he had committed British troops to taking the lead in Nato-led operations in Helmand province , southern Afghanistan, from 2006. Dannatt, commanding Nato troops in Germany at the time, told the Chilcot inquiry: "I was totally unaware. 'Where did that come from?' was my feeling at the time."

    The decision to send British UK troops to Helmand was "reasonable" when it was taken in 2004, he said. However, the situation had changed by 2006 when security in southern Iraq had deteriorated.

    British military commanders failed to reconsider in late 2005 and early 2006 whether it was still right to become more heavily committed in Helmand. "We accepted it as a policy decision. Maybe that was an error," Dannatt said.

    He told the inquiry he was never invited to address the cabinet or a cabinet committee, and only had a single one-to-one meeting with Blair in his last month as prime minister. Dannatt confirmed he believed Britain's military role in Afghanistan was more important than in Iraq which he described as "something that we were doing because it was decided that was the right thing to do".

    Committed by Blair to future fight in Afghanistan, British troops were pulled out of southern Iraq as quickly as possible in a move criticised by the US and widely recognised as damaging to the British army's reputation. "If Iraq was the only show in town, we probably could have increased [the number of troops there ] but of course we couldn't. We had already decided to reinforce Afghanistan," said Dannatt.

    The link between the two operations was emphasised by General Sir Mike Jackson, Dannatt's predecessor, who also gave evidence. More British troops could have been deployed in Afghanistan had more been withdrawn from Iraq, Jackson told the inquiry. "It was not open to us to put our hands up," he added, referring to Dannatt's suggestion that military chiefs should have reconsidered Blair's decision to commit thousands of British troops to Afghanistan.

    British military commanders, and former ministers, now admit that British troops suffered the worse of both worlds – too few were deployed for the task in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

    Dannatt told the inquiry that the military covenant – setting out the nation's obligations to the armed forces – had been getting "progressively out of balance" in terms of pay, conditions, accommodation and equipment, he told the inquiry. He warned publicly – first in an interview in the Guardian shortly after he became head of the army in 2006 – had been "running hot".

    He continued: "You can run hot when you are in balance and there is enough oil sloshing around the engine to keep it going. When the oil is thin, or not in sufficient quantity, the engine runs the risk of seizing up … I think we were getting quite close to a seizing-up moment in 2006."

    Dannatt continued: "We could see that perfect storm coming to fruition in about the middle of 2006 and I would contend that it did."

    He said he warned Des Brown, defence secretary at the time, that pressures on the army was so great and morale so fragile that the prospect of more and more people leaving the force would be "akin to going over a cliff edge". He blamed delays in replacing the much criticised Snatch Land Rover, vulnerable to roadside bombs on "deficiency in leadership and energy".

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2010/ju...eneral-dannatt

    Comment


    • #3
      (paul g).

      A former army chief said today that the British army came close to "seizing up" over Iraq because troops were "overstretched".

      "I think we were getting quite close to a seizing-up moment in 2006."

      He praised the way the American military under General David Petraeus turned around the Iraq campaign from 2007, while the British stuck to the previous policy, which was to hand over progressively to Iraqi control.

      "Against that description of them adapting quickly, in Iraq we may have looked a bit flat-footed," said Dannatt.

      "But I would maintain the circumstances were rather different. They were reinforcing their campaign. They were surging their troop numbers. They were spreading themselves in small bases throughout the population, getting among the people, whereas we were doing absolutely the opposite."

      The provision of military equipment also came under scrutiny. Documents released today by the inquiry reveal how Dannatt's predecessor, Jackson, warned that the UK's helicopter fleet in Iraq was "creaking badly" and "inadequate" after visiting British forces in Iraq in late 2005. Jackson also told the head of the armed forces that air transport provision for getting troops and equipment to and from the Middle East was even worse.

      Dannatt today strongly criticised the failure to find a replacement for the army's lightly-armoured Snatch Land Rovers, which proved highly vulnerable in Iraq.

      Secret documents released today as part of the ongoing inquiry revealed that ministers were formally warned that the military needed an alternative to the Snatch Land Rover part-way through the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. A general told the government in July 2006 that frontline commanders wanted better-protected vehicles so they could carry out missions "without unnecessary casualties".

      But British troops continued to be killed and injured in the lightly armoured Snatch, which is vulnerable to roadside bombs, for several more years.

      Dannatt told the inquiry: "It remains unsatisfactory that it is only now that we have closed with the issue. We worked round the problem, we didn't actually confront the problem.
      paul g,
      My first post on this site was about the RG32M decision by the Irish Army. I compared this to the Snatch and Jackal but I was pilloried by some for having a dissenting view. I was described as being anti-British. Now Dannatt comes out and says exactly what I have been saying all along- as does Jackson. I doubt if anyone on this site would describe either of those 2 Generals as being anti-British.

      Dannatt actually stated yesterday that " it is only now that we are addressing the problem".The clear implication of this is that he is also not happy with the Jackal.

      The full video record of the statements by the 2 Generals can be found here.

      http://www.iraqinquiry.org.uk/transc...te/100728.aspx
      Last edited by timhorgan; 29 July 2010, 10:20.

      Comment


      • #4
        agreed Paul - the British Government should have committed more troops. the British Army was ready and willing and only decisions at government level kept us at bay. we ALL wanted to get more troops on the ground in both fronts but it wasn't our call unfortunately.

        but the Snatch and Jackal are worlds apart in what they are and how they operate. everyone is agreed a lightly armoured Land-Rover designed for use in Northern Ireland was not up to the job when the IED's became larger and more effective in Iraq and Afghanistan. the Jackal has given us the capability to properly go 'off-road' with fantastic situational awareness and wield it's fire support where and when the troops needed it most.
        RGJ

        ...Once a Rifleman - Always a Rifleman... Celer et Audax

        The Rifles

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by timhorgan View Post
          paul g,
          My first post on this site was about the RG32M decision by the Irish Army. I compared this to the Snatch and Jackal but I was pilloried by some for having a dissenting view. I was described as being anti-British. Now Dannatt comes out and says exactly what I have been saying all along- as does Jackson. I doubt if anyone on this site would describe either of those 2 Generals as being anti-British.

          Dannatt actually stated yesterday that " it is only now that we are addressing the problem".The clear implication of this is that he is also not happy with the Jackal.

          The full video record of the statements by the 2 Generals can be found here.

          http://www.iraqinquiry.org.uk/transc...te/100728.aspx

          I remember being lambasted by the same person when I tried to point out that the mowag was a far better vehicle than the Cougar/Mastiff. And also when I pointed out that the way that British army looked after its troops was quite poor

          Then along comes Dannet yesterday and says that he would have loved to have a vehicle similar to the mowag in both iraq and afthanistan, and that the Mastiff was no substitute. A lot has been said this week at the inquiry about the failure of the FRES programme, and rightly so.
          .
          Dannett then pointed out that troops were very poorly treated.

          Jackal has nothing to do with the snatch replacement, they're both very different vehicles, designed for very different jobs.

          Jackal was never concieved as anything but a special operations fast attack vehicle. Were I to launch a commando raid on an airfield I go in a jackal. But Jackal is the last vehicle i'd choose to perform patrols in an urban environment. And its really unsuited for a hearts and minds Coin mision, which is what afghanistan is now, and always should have been.

          Dannett is actually talking about the LPPV, which will be either the Ocelot or the SPV-400,
          Last edited by paul g; 29 July 2010, 17:04.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by paul g View Post
            ...Jackal is the last vehicle i'd choose to perform patrols in an urban environment. And its really unsuited for a hearts and minds Coin mision, which is what afghanistan is now, and always should have been.
            Afghanistan is generally NOT an urban environment and where it is in Kabul for example - we do not deploy the Jackal either so that's an irrelevent statement anyhow.

            so what vehicle would you suggest then Paul that puts you face to face at ground level where you can look another man in the eye without having to look through ballistic glass or down the barrel of a turret system?

            Jackal is unique in this situation and there is nothing to compare to it.
            RGJ

            ...Once a Rifleman - Always a Rifleman... Celer et Audax

            The Rifles

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by RoyalGreenJacket View Post
              Afghanistan is generally NOT an urban environment and where it is in Kabul for example - we do not deploy the Jackal either so that's an irrelevent statement anyhow.

              so what vehicle would you suggest then Paul that puts you face to face at ground level where you can look another man in the eye without having to look through ballistic glass or down the barrel of a turret system?

              Jackal is unique in this situation and there is nothing to compare to it.
              But Iraq is very urban, and most the fighting there took place in urban areas. And the whole issue of snatch and its sutiability comes from there.

              And the next operation the british army might have to undertake might very well be in an urban environment, where Jackal would be vunerable.

              Actually I'd go with the Ocelot or SPV 400 that the british are looking at buying as a snatch replacement.

              Because Jackal is a heavily armed reconnaissance vehicle, with a crew of three.

              Snatch, and its eventual replacement is a patrol vehicle and has a crew of two and four dismounts.

              Neither have anything in common with each other part from four wheels.
              Last edited by paul g; 30 July 2010, 12:37.

              Comment


              • #8
                fair one Paul - i regularly commanded 'Snatch Patrols' in Iraq in 2004 - IED's were smaller then and our ECM stopped most of them so at the time we were fairy well protected but IED's just got bigger and more sophisticated and progressed faster than we could acquire new vehicles and so the casualties and fatalities increased. the government could and should have bought something off the shelf like the RG31, but they didn't.

                at the time we considered ourselves lucky in Snatch compared to our less well equipped American counterparts travelling around in un-armoured Hummers which disintegrated when IED'd - sadly i witnessed this personally.

                the Ocelot and SPV400 seem both excellent Light Patrol Vehicles so either way we will end up with a good bit of kit - it's just a pity it took so long in coming, but the Jackal is still unique and will still have it's place,and there are plenty of them to go around too.
                RGJ

                ...Once a Rifleman - Always a Rifleman... Celer et Audax

                The Rifles

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by paul g View Post
                  Then along comes Dannet yesterday and says that he would have loved to have a vehicle similar to the mowag in both iraq and afthanistan, and that the Mastiff was no substitute. A lot has been said this week at the inquiry about the failure of the FRES programme, and rightly so.
                  Dannett is actually talking about the LPPV, which will be either the Ocelot or the SPV-400,
                  And what makes it all so incredible is that the MOD procurement facility at Abbey Wood is heading towards a staffing complement of 10,000+- more than the Irish Army.

                  http://webarchive.nationalarchives.g...sinbristol.htm

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by timhorgan View Post
                    And what makes it all so incredible is that the MOD procurement facility at Abbey Wood is heading towards a staffing complement of 10,000+- more than the Irish Army.

                    http://webarchive.nationalarchives.g...sinbristol.htm
                    that's excellent - showing our commitment to get the right kit in a fully functional and tested state out to the troops who need it most.
                    RGJ

                    ...Once a Rifleman - Always a Rifleman... Celer et Audax

                    The Rifles

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      10,000 civil servants under one roof.....

                      Last edited by CS Gass; 31 July 2010, 14:29.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        RGJ- what would your comment be on the "nearly seized up" headline, from a POV of the guys on the ground?
                        "Gentlemen, you can’t fight in here...this is the War Room!"

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by RoyalGreenJacket View Post
                          that's excellent - showing our commitment to get the right kit in a fully functional and tested state out to the troops who need it most.

                          Sorry, RGJ,
                          Given the choice I have I reluctantly have to disagree with you and agree with General Dannatt who was very critical of MOD procurement and was very scathing about all of this at Chilcot . Interestingly he also mentions that the new vehicles will not be avaliable before late 2011 at the earliest. (Danatt was the last BA CGS).


                          Richard North is also pretty scathing herre.

                          http://defenceoftherealm.blogspot.co...ed-part-3.html
                          Last edited by timhorgan; 1 August 2010, 11:12.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            the vehicles we have not yet chosen have obviously not yet been made - so an in service date of 2011 is pretty good i reckon.

                            the Irish DF took 5 years to get just 66 vehicles into service:

                            www - Irish DF vehicle contract announced in 2005

                            we also got Mastiff and Ridgeback into service pretty quickly in which tens if not hundreds of lives have probably already been saved.

                            and c'mon - would you really expect Richard North of that anti-British propaganda website to have anything good to say about this subject?!
                            RGJ

                            ...Once a Rifleman - Always a Rifleman... Celer et Audax

                            The Rifles

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              RoyalGreenJacket;309118]the vehicles we have not yet chosen have obviously not yet been made - so an in service date of 2011 is pretty good i reckon.
                              You miss the point, the point is that the wrong vehicles were chosen too late- Dannatt says so and he was the CGS!

                              and c'mon - would you really expect Richard North of that anti-British propaganda website to have anything good to say about this subject?!
                              This Richard North- yes- because he has been proved right over and over again.

                              http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/b...th-review.html

                              And he is doing his duty to his country by pointing out the failures and mis-management that has let to so many unnecessary young British deaths.

                              Comment

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