Examination of witnesses (Questions 1160
WEDNESDAY 21 JUNE 2000
MOORE and MR
1160. I do not dissent from that view and I
think it is a very laudable sentiment to have before, during and
after the campaign and I doubt there is a dissenting voice in
the country about that. We are talking about lessons learned and
one of the lessons learned is we have to take a bit more time
verifying and making sure we are telling the British people the
truth about what we are doing before we rush on another daily
press conference to say, "We have knocked out another 50
tanks and the ones we have not hit are hidden in deep bunkers."
I would be interested to know if you have any proof that those
bunkers actually exist because I have not met anyone who has been
there who has actually found one and there were 450-odd pieces
(Mr Hoon) Without trading visits to Kosovo, I certainly
saw evidence of very precise bombing when I was there dealing
with weapon dumps, very precise, very accurate bombing that destroyed
the dump but left the lightening conductors surrounding the dump
intact. That struck me as a pretty clear vindication of the success
of the bombing campaign.
1161. It makes you wonder why the same weapons
were not used on Belgrade.
(Mr Hoon) The reality was that they were from time
to time used on Belgrade but there were other operational difficulties,
cloud in particular was one of them, that made that more difficult
but, again, visiting Pristina is a very good (even today) insight
into how accurate the bombing was. What I found remarkable when
I was there shortly after the end of the bombing campaign was
how life appeared to have returned to something like normal so
quickly. The reality was that certain buildings were no longer
there and the rest of the buildings, unlike previous air campaigns
I can think of, had not been damaged, not even been touched in
1162. If I can move on to some specific questions
about the operation. Would you go into a similar operation, if
you were called upon in the future, on the basis of current stock
levels of precision guided munitions? There was a fundamental
point, was there not, where we got very, very short of them?
(Mr Hoon) The answer is yes.
1163. You are satisfied that the stocks that
we ran with would be sufficient to be repeated into a similar
(Mr Hoon) Yes.
1164. Is our TLAM capability/missile launch
capability sustainable into the future and would you agree that
without a larger capability we will be somewhat hobbled by the
fact that we will be dependent on the US to supply them but if
the US was not in the action we might have a difficulty?
(Mr Hoon) We are continuing to make sure that the
Royal Naval submarines have TLAM capability, but it is no secret
that that capability is very expensive, not just expensive for
the United Kingdom but expensive for the United States, and these
are very sophisticated, very expensive weapons that of necessity
are used with restraint.
1165. Do you expect to equip all our SSNs with
that type of munition? That is what you have said. You are sure?
That is still the commitment? We can afford that within the defence
(Mr Hoon) It is a process that is underway.
1166. Okay. The Americans are changing the style
of missile they are going to use, are they not? They going for
a different type of TLAM. Are we satisfied that we will continue
to be able to get hold of the right missiles for our boats as
opposed to the changed version that the Americans are going to
use or are we thinking ourselves of switching to a new type of
future tactical Tomahawk?
(Rear Admiral Moore) Mr Hancock, you are right that
the Americans are thinking of changing or they are going to change.
They do have residual stocks of the old one and therefore our
capability can be maintained.
1167. And we are satisfied with that?
(Mr Webb) Polaris ran on for years and years after
it had gone out of American service, this is not unusual.
1168. Are we satisfied? The Americans are changing
obviously because they think that the newer missile is a better
and more controllable asset. Are we satisfied that we should be
running with something they feel is no longer satisfactory as
a weapon? As I understood it, they have had reservations about
(Rear Admiral Moore) What the American change does
is give extra range to the missile and therefore that will give
them more options for how they use it. That does not denigrate
the ability of the missile to carry out what it is designed to
1169. So we are satisfied that we have got the
(Rear Admiral Moore) We have still got exactly what
1170. In the right configuration and we will
not be spending huge amounts of money to convert our subs to a
changed weapon in the near future?
(Rear Admiral Moore) No.
1171. Can I then deal with the issue of the
response between MoD and DfID about humanitarian circumstances.
I read with great interest the first report, the previous Secretary
of State's report about responding to the humanitarian crisis
there. Are you satisfied that the political co-operation which
appears to be apparent is matched by the departmental co-operation
that is essential if political initiatives are actually going
to be deliverable?
(Mr Hoon) Yes I am. Indeed, I think one of the benefits
in a sense of looking at Kosovo in the round was the fact that
British forces were engaged on essentially humanitarian tasks
from time to time and I think they have indicated very positively
the benefits to them of being involved in that kind of exercise.
I think it is something that we need to continue to improve in
the sense that we need to understand more about in particular
the way that NGOs operate, but I think it is, equally, a two-way
street and if we are to work successfully with NGOs in this kind
of operation they need to understand a little more about the way
in which the military operate, but I think they have been a very
considerable success in that area.
1172. What concrete proposals do you have then
to make sure that the lessons of Kosovo are going to be put into
good practice within your Department and theirs and with the wider
(Rear Admiral Moore) They have been already because
in Sierra Leone we have been dealing there with NGOs and we have
been dealing through DfID with them and directly both with the
Ministry of Defence and the Permanent Joint Headquarters so we
have absolutely realised those lessons.
(Mr Webb) In Kosovo it goes on to this day. There
is an interesting programme going on in Kosovo now to help re-settle
Serbs. We talked to DfID and money came forward for projects.
It goes on all the time and it is really very successful.
1173. What are you doing about the critical
area of giving our own military personnel at all levels the right
sort of training that enables them to deal with the humanitarian
crises they are confronted with, particularly if it goes on over
a long period? It is one thing helping out over an earthquake,
it is another thing being stationed for four months to six months
dealing daily with personal tragedy, and young men and women are
being confronted with that on a daily basis, as I have done, and
it is not a very pleasant experience and can have a very detrimental
result on you as an individual.
(Rear Admiral Moore) As regards personal training
I think that is happening inevitably as more units get experienced
in this sort of operation and commanding officers will of course
be aware that they need to make sure that their people are ready
for that sort of experience but on an organisational level we
are reviewing at the moment civil and military co-operation as
a subject to see how we do it and how we could improve it so we
can fix the military into that sort of role when it is a valid
role for military forces.
1174. Is there extensive debriefing in operation
for service personnel coming back to the UK after tours to Kosovo
and Bosnia going over some of the experiences they have had to
enable them to adapt back easily into their military role?
(Rear Admiral Moore) I cannot answer that specifically
but a commanding officer will have the authority to do what is
required to bring his people back into their normal operational
1175. Then on to a political question to you,
Secretary of State. Are you satisfied that the right training
and assistance is being given to those young men and women who
are doing this job on our behalf, despite the fact they are being
asked to do even more with their time and training is being squeezed
in some instances and training exercises are going by the board
because of other pressures? Are you satisfied that the pressures
on them are so great that they are being denied this opportunity?
(Mr Hoon) Yes I am. Can I emphasise this, that the
main thrust of the training will always be in relation to war
fighting. That is what they are there to do and that is what they
do very successfully and I would resist any suggestion that that
training would be neglected for any other kind of training that
would be less effective than the war fighting capability that
our forces have and continue to have and continue to require because
what we have found, in particular in the immediate aftermath of
the end of the air campaign in Kosovo, is that the kinds of skills
that are provided as part of war fighting are the kinds of skills
that are necessary in quite a dangerous environment like Kosovo.
One of the reasons why our forces have been so successful both
in war fighting but in the kind of operation that Kosovo requires
is because they have that essential war fighting capacity and
that they are trained for that.
1176. Why are so many exercises being cancelled
(Mr Hoon) So many exercises say are not being cancelled,
Julian, I am sorry.
1177. The largest Commando exercise was cancelled
last year and that is pretty central to the plans.
(Mr Hoon) One exercise was cancelled for one year.
Mr Brazier: Because of a shortage.
1178. I am interested when we see people leaving
the Services. Two constituents of mine have left the Services
and both of them felt badly affected by what they had experienced
in Bosnia and it was in their opinion the main reason that turned
them away from a life in the British military. They felt, unhappily,
that they did not get, firstly, good enough briefing about what
they were going to encounter. I understand in one case this was
difficult because they were there in the very early days and it
was difficult to know what young men and women were going to be
experiencing. The second one went twice and he had a very bad
experience as did the whole company he was with. They left the
military after quite long lengths of service both with bad experiences
of what they had gone through but more importantly they felt they
had been let down after that experience.
(Mr Hoon) We have learned a number of lessons from
what took place certainly in the early period in Bosnia, and I
am very conscious about that when, for example, we look at things
like rules of engagement. We all know what the problems were in
the early period and undoubtedly because the international community
had not properly thought through what was happening in that early
period we did not equip any of the forces that were sent to deal
with the kind of situations that they faced, but it is something
that we have recognised and something I make it quite clear I
am very conscious of when, for example, I am asked to look at
rules of engagement because we would not want our forces to be
put into that situation again.
1179. Are you satisfied they cannot be put into
that situation again?
(Mr Hoon) If they were then I accept the responsibility
for it. What I am saying is that I have learned that lesson very
clearly and when asked to look at rules of engagement I am very
conscious that I will not put British forces into that kind of
Mr Hancock: That is good news.