Examination of Witnesses (Questions 20-39)|
TEBBIT KCB, CMG, MAJOR
WEDNESDAY 10 APRIL 2002
20. That is the impression I get.
(Sir Kevin Tebbit) That is a little unfair. May I
just respond? We have had no UK incidence of death through friendly
fire since the Gulf conflict, so for the last 11 years I have
not been able to give you any figures because there are none.
Since 1982 we have had two conflicts where this is relevant: the
Falklands where we had eight people killed from fratricide and
22 wounded through friendly fire incidents, therefore our total
casualties from friendly fire incidents, killed and wounded, were
30 out of a total casualty figure of 1,032.
21. That is appalling.
(Sir Kevin Tebbit) That is 3 per cent.
22. It is appalling: eight people killed and
22 wounded by our own troops.
(Sir Kevin Tebbit) That is right.
23. That is not something to be put as "only"
three per cent; it is horrendous.
(Sir Kevin Tebbit) Warfare is a bit dangerous
24. I am sure it is.
(Sir Kevin Tebbit)and much more serious
25. I am sure it is. It is a lot more dangerous
when you go to war and are going to be killed by your own troops.
(Sir Kevin Tebbit)much more serious were the
248 who were killed by the Argentines. That is a figure which
is even more serious and that is the issue. The issue is trying
to reduce the number of people killed by any means.
26. If you go to war you expect to have fatalities
but you expect them to be killed by your enemy and not by yourselves.
I just find that the answers you were giving the Chairman indicated
to meI do not know whether the rest of the Committee got
the same feelingthat you really were not sure what was
happening and you were not really sure what you were going to
(Sir Kevin Tebbit) In the Falklands we are talking
about eight people, in the Gulf conflict we are talking about
nine people. The total British deployment to the Gulf was 43,000,
the total deployment to the Falklands was 28,000. That is the
context which you asked me to provide and which I am now providing.
27. Let us move to page 9 paragraph 1.11 which
tells us that war is fought with a certain sort of ferocity, that
you have some very fierce wars and you have some conflicts which
are not so fierce. Is that correct?
(Sir Kevin Tebbit) There is a whole spectrum of possibilities
from peace support operations, which are relatively peaceful,
to all-out warfare, which is a rather nasty business.
28. Even so, it is still very dangerous on a
peace mission. We have just heard on the news this morning that
one of our troops has been killed in Afghanistan.
(Sir Kevin Tebbit) That is true.
29. Shot in the head, presumably by one of his
own side. Is that right?
(Sir Kevin Tebbit) I think a very sad accident happened.
It was not an operational accident, but I do believe it was a
very sad accident.
30. The point I am trying to make is that the
ferocity of the war does not necessarily determine whether you
are going to be killed by the other side or not. Here we are on
a peace-keeping mission and one of our soldiers is dead.
(Sir Kevin Tebbit) We cannot link that to the issue
we are discussing though. It is a very sad incident.
31. An Afghan soldier did not kill him nor the
(Sir Kevin Tebbit) But it was not in a combat situation.
That is the point I am making.
32. If that is the case then what I seem to
understand from this is that the more ferocious the war the more
chances there are of this friendly fire sort of incident taking
place. Is that right?
(Sir Kevin Tebbit) The more chances there are of people
getting killed by the enemy as well.
33. That is obvious. I did not need that. I
can understand that.
(Sir Kevin Tebbit) That is the point I am really trying
to get across. I am trying to help the Committee understand the
issue here. The issue is seeking to resolve conflict with the
lowest level of casualties for any reason, whether it is by friendly
fire or by being killed by the enemy and that is what defence
policy is based around and that is what the Strategic Defence
Review is trying to deliver and that is why I talked about a manoeuvre
concept of warfare where you try to unbalance the enemy and he
gives in without deaths arising rather than an attrition approach
to warfare where you hammer away at the enemy and people get killed
on all sides for all reasons.
34. So you do have clear evidence that is the
case? You have clear evidence that the fiercer the battle the
greater the chances of friendly fire incidents. The report seems
to indicate that, does it not?
(Sir Kevin Tebbit) The report shows that particular
land engagements between armies on the battlefield tend to lead
to more of these than
35. Figures 4 and 5 show us the areas of conflict
and peace support operations where we have been involved since
1992. Can you give us a rundown on any of these operations where
there has been this sort of problem? What you seem to be indicating
now is that we have not had any problem like this in any of these
conflicts or any of these peace operations.
(Sir Kevin Tebbit) That is correct.
36. If that is the case I shall not pursue that
line of questioning. We shall move on to paragraph 1.27 on page
11. I found the answers you gave to the Chairman regarding the
use of specific weapons, for example the high velocity missile
and the Javelin, not at all helpful. The Chairman was asking,
and I wish to ask the same question, whether, regardless of whether
they needed to be used or did not need to be used, you could have
used those weapons if you had not had superiority in the air or
would they have been reduced to 25 per cent capacity? Your argument
was that they did not need to be used because we had gained superiority
in the air.
(Sir Kevin Tebbit) May I ask Commodore Nance to give
you an answer because a lot of the issues are ones where it is
military judgement which is most important?
(Commodore Nance) Thank you very much indeed for the
question. It may be helpful to turn to page 32 of the report.
On that page is a broad user definition of the term "weapons
hold" which occurs in the paragraph to which both the Chairman
and you referred. If I understood your question correctly it was:
under the circumstances that they were deployed in Kosovo, were
these weapons able to be used to defend the positions in which
they were placed? They were given a weapons control order, as
the report identified, which says that it only allows personnel
handling weapons to fire if they feel they are under direct threat.
Clearly it is the business of the tactics, techniques and procedures
which individuals are given as part of them being deployed for
them to be able to identify the target they are firing at. That
is part one of the pillars, to understand the environment in which
they are operating, whether they have air superiority or not,
what the Permanent Under-Secretary has referred to as situational
awareness, being aware of the circumstances, and then to use the
right procedures in order to engage to defend themselves. It is
a long answer.
37. I understand all that but you are not really
answering the question I asked Sir Kevin. The question I asked
was: would or could you have used those weapons, regardless of
being on weapons hold or not, to win the battle, regardless of
whether it was self defence or not? If it were possible to use
those weapons not just for self defence but as offensive weapons
would you use them?
(Commodore Nance) I am not being clear in answering
38. If you cannot use it you are fighting the
war with one hand behind your back, are you not?
(Commodore Nance) Absolutely right. The issue is that
both these weapon systems are point defence weapon systems, that
is they defend a position. Their offensive role does not exist.
They were given a form of control which allowed them to be used
if those weapon systems were under direct threat. So the rigorous
answer to your question in one word is yes, they would have been
allowed to be used.
39. To defend themselves.
(Commodore Nance) To defend themselves, because that
is the capability they have, they are self-defence weapons.