Examination of witnesses (Questions 1180
WEDNESDAY 21 JUNE 2000
MOORE and MR
1180. Secretary of State, I have a slightly
different experience certainly in Kosovo having paid two visits
to the region, I am very glad to say, particularly to Macedonia
while the action was going on and in fact I found throughout the
ranks that the people in the Armed Forces found the refugees to
be a great source of inspiration and they conducted themselves
with such dignity that in fact it was an invigorating experience
because they could not believe people in such an appalling situation
could behave and respond so well to them. They were heavily involved
in setting up the camps. There are two references in the Kosovo:
Lessons from the Crisis report about the non-governmental
organisations and I wonder whether one of them is just a veiled
way of saying they were having difficulty coping and therefore
our Armed Forces in particular had to step in and help with the
camps. In one of the extracts at paragraph 8.9 it says how much
they were involved in humanitarian crises. Have we learned enough
about co-ordination of NGOs in theatre? What lessons can we extract
and were our Armed Forces pulled in because there was some failure
at the time?
(Mr Hoon) I do not think there is any doubt that we
still have more work to do in working more effectively with NGOs
who almost by definition are not organised in the way that government
activity is organised. There is not a single chain of command,
there is not a comprehensive organisation of NGOs that ideally
might be attractive, but that is the virtue of a non-governmental
organisation. What we have certainly sought to do is to ensure
that members of the Armed Forces understand the role of NGOs,
understand the way they work and we have done a great deal on
that. One of the areas of difficulty is undoubtedly that whilst
some NGOs are sympathetic to understanding how the military might
be involved and might participate, some for perfectly understandable
reasons so far as they are concerned, are reluctant to become
more involved in a military process. Some NGOs, quite understandably
from their point of view, do not feel that they want to necessarily
understand more about how the military might operate in this context.
1181. There is a strengthened role for the PJHQ
but you actually say that even if there was maybe some would not
be that keen to take advantage of it?
(Mr Hoon) Yes, I am saying that. I think some would
say that it is not appropriate for an NGO to work closely alongside
the military. I am not generalisingI am saying others are
happy to deliver help and assistance however it needs to be done.
1182. That was certainly the experience on the
ground at the time.
(Mr Webb) Can I make a phasing point about this. Paragraph
8.9 talks about the UNHCR and does not talk about NGOs. Initially
in these situations it is very often the Armed Forces who can
act quickly on a scale to try and alleviate an immediate situation.
We do talk a lot to DfID about trying to get good links. Then,
whether it is the UN or NGOs, they come and pick up on the situation
and often their skills are more relevant particularly when you
are talking about re-settling refugees after an immediate crisis
has peaked, very often their skills are better. So there is a
complementary feature about this I am trying to bring out which
we are working to get right and it is a question of phasing and
handing over which is the important thing. If you go to Bosnia
very close co-operation goes on in relation to returnees and everything
else. It is very well developed.
(Rear Admiral Moore) NGOs are a very broad church.
There are the big ones we hear about, the Medicins Sans Frontieres
and it goes right down to people with a lorry who think they have
got their own right to go and do something in the face of a crisis.
There is no way you can deal with them uniformly and therefore
for PJHQ to deal with them as a breed is almost impossible. What
you have got to do is make sure that the theatre commander has
got the authority and ability to react to requirements on the
Laura Moffatt: I understand that that
reference was to the UNHCR but in paragraph 6.18 it very much
talks about the relationship between the Foreign Office, the NGOs,
the whole bit, and how we work best together and obviously we
could explore that but I think you have outlined the difficulties
for me, thank you.
1183. I was rather intrigued by a point raised
by Mr Hancock about not having seen any of the deep bunkers in
which this hardware was secreted from air attacks. Have any of
the witnesses seen any of these bunkers and, if not, perhaps they
could write to us and let us know where they are?
(Mr Hoon) I have not seen any.
(Mr Webb) I have seen pictures of them.
1184. What I want to ask is this: do you think
we have enough information in order to be able to assess an enemy
leader's likely responses to our actions in order to judge how
best to apply a coercive strategy? What I have in mind is the
fact that democratic leaders never seem to have a great understanding
about how the minds of totalitarians work and we seem to have
felt Milosevic was a rather more reasonable character than he
turned out to be, notwithstanding what had happened in Bosnia
some years earlier. Could you comment on the adequacy or otherwise
of our ability to make valid assessments of people who are really
not democratic leaders at all?
(Mr Hoon) All I can say is that assessments are made,
efforts are made to understand the reasoning process, such as
it might be, together with the kinds of pressures that exist even
on the leader of a totalitarian regime but I acceptit is
self-evidentthat this is not an exact science and that
we do not have information that would allow us to predict with
any accuracy how someone like Milosevic might behave.
1185. Would you accept then that it might be
a useful aid to future decision makers now that we have the experience
of how Milosevic behaved, for a retrospective profile to be drawn
up as best we can of our assessment of his personality? Do you
know if any studies have been made in the past with profiles of
our former enemies?
(Mr Hoon) They are normally done by historians and,
frankly, they do not always agree
1186. Fair enough.
(Mr Hoon)on the assessment that they make,
unfortunately. I think the difficulty about that, and particularly
in the context of Milosevic, is there is no evidence at all that
his behaviour was consistent and in those circumstances, whilst
we can draw up a profile that this man behaves inconsistently,
I am not sure it particularly helps in the way that we deal with
him and the way he might react to any decision that we could take.
1187. At least it suggests we should not expect
him to respond as we would ourselves if similar pressures were
(Mr Hoon) I think that is fair. I think it is right
that we should recognise that in a democracy we are subject as
politicians to different sorts of pressures to those faced by
a man like Milosevic in the former Republic of Yugoslavia and
we have certainly to build that into our assessment of how he
might react when he is confronted with particular circumstances.
1188. Finally, do we pay sufficient attention
to discussing and war-gaming such matters amongst politicians,
diplomats and military alike? Do you think we could do better
in future in terms of applying these types of techniques?
(Mr Hoon) A great deal of effort is put into the training
of senior officers in all Services to deal with scenarios that
they might have to face and one aspect of that, undoubtedly, is
how the enemy might respond to whatever decisions you take. But
inevitably each particular campaign is of itself in terms of the
lessons we can learn. There are some general lessons that we can
identify but in this particular area my view, and either of the
two people here giving evidence can comment for themselves, is
that Milosevic behaved in particular ways at particular times
that were not predictable, and that he reacted to some pressure
or provocation differently at different stages in the process
without real explanation on our part as to what it was that motivated
him and it may be, and I think this is a further problem in terms
of what you are driving at, that he may not have had very well
thought through plans or ideas as to how he was likely to behave.
1189. Do you have any examples of when he reacted
rather differently to the way you expected him to act?
(Mr Hoon) I undoubtedly would have expected a rational
man to believe that we would resort to force when we said that
(Mr Webb) The phrase "one move ahead chess player"
is sometimes used. One of the difficulties, and we do try hard
at this and we have very good people now at work helping us in
campaign planning in this area of profiling, is that opponents
are not under a single pressure. They might on the one hand be
fearful of an attack by NATO but on the other hand they are managing
a micro political situation which is related to their position
within a small power group and where they fit within an immediate
supporting power group. On the day, which of those hits you is
quite hard to predict. I think it is useful but I would not put
too much weight on it and in the end the capability is the thing
to keep an eye on because that is the thing in terms of their
ability to act.
1190. I do not wish to rake over the issue of
DERA, but there are a lot of psychologists in DERA. What are they
up to? Are they of any use in criminal profiling, that kind of
(Rear Admiral Moore) I do not think we ought to go
into the detail, but we do use DERA.
1191. Are they going to be in the retained bit?
(Rear Admiral Moore) That is a good question.
(Mr Hoon) Yes.
1192. One of the problems in warfare today is
that yes, you do have to look at the military balance and at capability,
but when you are fighting against a dictator the whole object
is not just to take out tanks, or aircraft or factories, but to
influence the single person who is ultimately going to be in charge,
is it not?
(Mr Webb) Yes.
1193. It seems to me, therefore, that profiling
and understanding your key single adversary is going to be of
even greater importance in the past than it is in the future,
and I hope this has been taken care of, because in our inquiry,
Secretary of State, we have not been overwhelmed by the capacity
of the Allies, as far as is possible, to understand his moves.
If you are trying to influence him and thinking that by bombing
at a low level on day one, two, three, four, five it is going
to influence him, but after two months you realise it has not,
it makes you wonder whether we understood the guy clearly enough,
otherwise we would have gone up the scale on day one and not gently
moved up in a graduated response.
(Mr Hoon) I entirely agree with that, and it is right
that we should do that. All I caution is that we should not expect
really sophisticated results from that process, any more than
you would expect me to be able to explain the behaviour of, say,
a Member of Parliament for Walsall if we profiled him. We would
not be able reliably to say how he was going to behave next week
1194. We are all very predictable. I have been
arguing the same case now since 1973on my own. The MoD
has acknowledged the need for far greater focus on information
operations as an integrated political-military strategy and is
working towards making this a reality. I would like to ask, how
far is such an integrated approach going to be possible in a NATO
context, given the incredible national sensitivities over the
components of information operations such as psyops, deception
and electronic infrastructure attack? I could not write a paragraph
on psyops in the Ministry of Defence. I am not certain, Secretary
of State, whether you would be able to.
(Mr Hoon) I do not know whether that is a challenge
or an invitation. What I think is important is that each country
in the Alliance has a range of capabilities available to it, and
the matters you have mentioned are part of that range. What actually
happens in this kind of campaign is that each country tends to
play to its strengths and will play to those parts of its capability
which it can contribute most effectively. Those are part of the
capability that NATO does have available. I am not entirely sure
I agree that they are necessarily any more sensitive than certain
other parts of the capability that the different countries have,
but nevertheless some parts of that are available and, in appropriate
circumstances, will be used.
1195. I shall read carefully what you said,
but in the Falklandssorry to bombard you with political
historynobody put their hand up and said they were responsible
for psychological operations in the Falklands. From what we knowand
we do not know very muchthe psyops in relation to Serbia
did not appear to have been quite on a par with the UK in the
Second World War; in fact, this appeared in some cases to be a
little bit on the amateurish side, like dropping millions of leaflets
over Serbia and hoping the wind would take them 15 miles into
Serbia. I hope that in the course of your own researches you do
have a look very carefully at how successful psyops were in our
own Ministry of Defence and in NATO involvement. We would not
expect you to come and tell us exactly, but this in the future
is going to be even more and more important, and we really have
to get the structures right, do we not?
(Mr Webb) Yes.
1196. Are you in charge of psychological warfare
as such, Mr Webb?
(Mr Webb) I am not as such, but I do chair a group
on news release which actually does try to assess these issues.
It is part of crisis management now, and it is part of NATO crisis
management. NATO has an approach to what is called information
operations set out in a military committee document, and it was
an annex and part of the NATO operational plan for Kosovo. Often
this is just a fairly simple matter of saying what it is you are
going to do and telling the truth about it. You can get very hung
up on all the more fancy dimensions of it that are sometimes debated.
but in actually getting across key themes and messages, as we
have been trying to do on Sierra Leone, for example, and sometimes
messages in different places, as you and I have discussed in another
context, sometimes you want to make clear exactly what the policy
is, but sometimes you are trying to send different messages in
theatre. So we do work on all that. I think we are, I hope, getting
a bit better at it, but it is something we are certainly paying
a lot of attention to now, and it is an integral part of the overall
campaign, which is why we have a structure which does it.
1197. Do people have any moral hang-ups in the
MoD about using psyops? It is a pretty sneaky form of warfare,
but a perfectly legitimate form of warfare.
(Mr Hoon) We live in an information age, and I think
it is entirely appropriate that governments should use those capabilities
that can achieve a successful outcome.
Chairman: I do not think we shall pursue
that much further.
1198. I should like to ask a little bit about
costs, as you might expect. Can we be assured that the costs of
operations like Allied Force have not detracted from the amount
of money that has been planned to be put into the SDR?
(Mr Hoon) You can be assured, and the Ministry of
Defence was compensatedif that is the right wordin
its budget for the costs of the campaign.
1199. Is it correct that there was an underspend
of about 1.5% on the defence budget last year? If so, where has
that money gone? Has it gone back to the Treasury, or have you
been able to buy things with it?
(Mr Hoon) There has been some slightly misleading
newspaper speculation about underspend, as far as the budget is
concerned. Parliament, as you will know, sets very, very tight
limits for expenditure by government departments, and at the end
of the financial year a government department is expected to come
in within the amount set in the budget by Parliament. What that
produces in all departmentsand the Ministry of Defence
is not exceptional in thisis a very cautious approach towards
the end of the year, because whilst a department might be willing
to underspend by (I think the figure is) £318 million, it
is not willing to overspend by that amount. The consequence of
that is that accounting officersthe permanent secretariesunderstandably
are trying to ensure that they do not exceed the budget. As far
as the department is concernedand again this is wholly
consistent with other departmentsthere are ways in which
the budget can be brought within the appropriate total which do
not necessarily mean the department spends any less. One of the
ways in which that is achieved, frankly, is that spending that
is required is not necessarily spent before the end of the financial