Select Committee on Defence Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 720-739)


2 JULY 2003

  Q720  Mr Roy: But you would take it quite seriously if it was you that had to wear the black boots as opposed to the desert boots.

  Mr Thompson: You know as well as I do that soldiers like to go and get their own gear. They all like to have exactly their own gear, they all like to go to the shops to get the bits and pieces to add to the kit. But if they do not have body armour, I think that is a serious point.

  Mr Neely: We all have different experiences and maybe it was because it was the marines who see themselves as—and are—the elite. I felt there was not a morale problem. They were very, very aware of the debate back home. I mean, when we were in the Kuwaiti desert, they were watching a wide-screen TV, they were watching Sky and BBC and others every night, they were listening to BBC radio, they were getting mail from home. They were absolutely well aware of the debate and asked us about it. The officers used to say to us all the time, "We understand the debate, we all have our private views, but we are professionals and we will do a job." I think that was also the case with some of the guys. Perversely, I think the debate back home made them all the more determined to make it quick and to perform absolutely at the best of their ability, so they could get home quicker, so the debate would end and they could shine. From my point of view, I did not think it was a morale problem. As for equipment, I attended briefings twice a day. The QM was always being asked for certain things—which he said was coming down the line—most of it fairly unimportant. The one problem they had was with dodgy bullets from Belgium.

  Q721  Chairman: I am sorry, could you repeat that? I thought I had got over Belgium with the Falklands. I am sorry, you have reminded me.

  Mr Neely: There was an issue with a consignment of ... I must look at my notes, I think it was 60,000 bullets that had been supplied, bullets for heavy machine guns, as I remember, out on the firing range. They were firing these things and the guns kept jamming. There had been a request put in at least a week before the war began that these be replaced. I think some came to replace them. They were firing them still, to test the guns, the day before war began, but I am pretty sure that the entire consignment of bullets was not replaced. That was the only equipment shortage that was serious.

  Mr Hewitt: I of course was not with the British troops so I really cannot say very much about it. I know there was often a story in the paper about the fact that the Americans got tired of bumping into the British, because they always reckoned they would come to the camp and take everything they could find. Just anecdotally. That simply is an exaggeration, certainly those of my unit who met British never felt that somehow their boots were in danger, they were going to get removed. One important difference, and it is a cultural difference between Britain and America: when American troops go to war—this is since the Vietnam era—there simply is no debate back home that reaches the soldiers that somehow this is a controversial war. My unit believed that everybody back home was with them. Whether they were or not, that is what they believed and therefore they were quite surprised when they crowded round the radio at least twice a day and listened into the BBC World Service and actually heard the amount of debate that was going on. So, as soldiers, they were in a slightly different position: they did not have any of this kind of chatter going on in the background that somehow this may not be either a just or a well-advised war. As regards equipment with the Americans, I mean, you have to go back over the fact that certainly over the last 10 or 15 years America has been spending huge, huge sums on their equipment and I never heard of any complaints. There was no shortage of body armour. They had the latest equipment, and, as you know—whether it is the case with British tanks or not I do not know—our tank commander in his tank had, if you like, a lap-top screen and on that screen at any given moment he would know where every single other American and British unit was on the battlefield. To my mind, as a journalist, I always felt slightly privileged when I was invited up into the Abrams tank to see this and it crossed my mind—and I do not have the answer and you probably do have it—"Well, technology plays such a huge role on the battlefield these days," and I was very impressed by that, just the amount of information they were getting. Of course, it did not prevent terrible accidents, as we have been hearing about, blue-on-blue, equipment does not, in the end, make up for that, but my instinct is that the Americans are a much, much better equipped force.

  Ms Gillan: I think morale and concerns about what is happening back home and what the general public think about the war really only was an issue until they crossed the line, because they could not watch Sky anymore and they could not really keep in contact, there was only really the World Service and that was patchy, and their concerns were things other than what the general British public thought about the war. I think that kind of faded away. I do not really agree about the boots issue. I saw the horrible side of the boots issue: the people with the bad feet infections and being hospitalised and everything else because they did have infections, rotten feet, because they did have these really thick boots. I saw desert fatigues that must have belonged to somebody 20 years ago when they had a big, fat bum, because they were practically worn through; there were young soldiers with their housewives trying to sew them up. Ultimately, on the equipment that I noticed—and I do not know whether you want to leave this until later on—there are other issues. Gavin talked about a lap-to in the front of a tank; I mean, that is going to take the British Army about another 20 years, considering the radios they have are 20 years old and they do not work. Shortages of other things: vehicle parts, running gear, track; vehicles breaking down, unable to get the right parts to fix them and everything else. I think there are much more serious issues than personal equipment—you know, than shortages of other things. I mean, it was known for paper clips to be used to fix the inside of an armoured reconnaissance vehicle. Our policy seemed to be make-and-do.

  Q722  Mr Roy: If I could just ask, Ms Gillan, about the Fedeyeen. Were the troops ready for that or did the troops underestimate the threat from the Fedeyeen?

  Ms Gillan: I do not think it was underestimated what the Fedeyeen could do. Basically, particularly in the south, where I was, it was just expected that everybody would roll over and there would not even be any resistance there. In those first couple of days, it was just, "There are pockets of resistance here, there are pockets of resistance there, there are guys in white pick-up trucks with RPGs on the back," and basically we were being told, "They are not military"—you know, they were using words like "terrorists" and everything else, definitions were becoming a bit odd. But the resistance was certainly a lot stronger than anybody I was with had anticipated.

  Q723  Chairman: One brief question about the Belgian bullets. Did they fail in conflict or in exercises beforehand? Was it just one batch?

  Mr Neely: What I was aware of was in exercise beforehand.

  Q724  Chairman: Thank you. We were told of a consignment of hand-grenades from Switzerland that were not given the appropriate licence by the Swiss authorities, so I do not know what hand-grenades anybody used. Did you come across anybody hurling hand-grenades?

  Mr Neely: No.

  Chairman: If they were, they were not Swiss.

  Q725  Syd Rapson: Mr Neely explained that the Royal Marines gave you a full briefing on the whole big picture.

  Mr Neely: Yes.

  Q726  Syd Rapson: I appreciate that. That is very good. Could I ask the other two, Ms Gillan and Mr Hewitt, whether you had a full picture of the whole scene or whether, because you were embedded, you were restricted to just what the units were doing. It was probably different for both of you. I will end up with Mr Thompson, and ask, as you are a so-called maverick, how you got the overall military picture of what was going on rather than what you saw on a daily basis.

  Ms Gillan: I did not get the briefing that Bill got, sadly. For the first couple of days I had no trust at all. I had two 18-year old soldiers follow me everywhere I went for the first two days. The Household Cavalry Regiment, because they are a frontline reconnaissance regiment, know the whole plan. The tent is full of the plan, maps, everything else. I turn up, they do not trust me, so they had people following me around for two days when there was nowhere really for me to go anyway, apart from the toilet and the mess tent and the showers to do a wash in. After a couple of days, I basically complained to the media or people that surely I could be trusted enough to walk around the camp on my own, since I could not go anywhere and there was nothing to do. They began to trust me more and more, as they saw some of the stories that I was writing were more about how a soldier prepares for war and how he feels emotionally and everything else, and they began to realise that the kind of journalism I was there to do was different from that which they had anticipated. But I still did not get to that stage where they sat me down and said, "This is . . . and this is what we are going to do." But I think that may also be because where I was the plan was so fluid and changing. I mean, I did get briefings, but not in the way Bill did.

  Mr Hewitt: I think this is where you will find that all of our experiences, even those of us who were embedded, are quite different. Thirty-six hours before the war started, I and others were taken to a tent in the desert and given the battle plan by General Blunt. It was an extraordinary experience. We stood alongside a huge map of Iraq and he said, "Right, this is what we are going to do: this brigade is going to swing out into the desert, we are not going to try to take any towns along the rivers, we are going to head to Baghdad as soon as possible," so he gave us an overview, we could not record it and we could not report it. I can tell you, as a journalist I was absolutely amazed. I thought, "To take this risk . . ." I mean, I was not going to report it, I felt a real responsibility, but it to me was incredible to be given the battle plan 36 hours before it happened, and to an extent that is what happened for the rest of the campaign. We were told by the Americans right from the word go there was going to be no "off the record" in this war. Anything any commander ever said at any time, apart from this briefing with General Blunt, was on the record. The only thing we could not report was future operations and, to a certain extent, where we were—although on occasions we could do that too. We knew a great deal about what the objectives were—not all the time. I think, as you have been saying, there are elements of trust that have to build up. Captain Nun, who was the commander of the company that I really spent most of the time with, there was no question: initially he was a little bit wary. I am not sure every commander wants a television team with them. But over a period of time I think he felt that he could tell us things, so I knew a great deal, certainly about what our unit was doing and what the objective was, but to a certain extent about the wider plan. I found it very useful that I had been given this briefing right from the word go.

  Mr Thompson: I was not given a big-picture briefing in advance but with all the units I went along with, once I had built up trust, I was taken into confidence largely, and a lot of different officers told me a lot of different bits of information which I pieced together, so I feel I had a pretty good picture certainly of each area I was in or the broader picture rather than individual units. Because of the freedom of unilateral movement, if you like, I was able to attach myself briefly to lots of different units, so I was able to go along with several different frontline units, as well as brigade support, logistics and so on, all of whom help you build up a broader picture, so I got a pretty good idea of what was going on without having the absolutely precise battle plan overall that Gavin would have had.

  Q727  Syd Rapson: During the middle stages of the campaign there was a "pause" and it was reported. Do you think the reports on that pause were accurate? It left us quite confused at home as to what caused the pause. Do you think there was accuracy in the reports of a pause?

  Ms Gillan: We all participated last week in an event at which a journalist admitted that the pause was his fault: somebody had said it to him, he had mentioned it to the New York Times, and so the New York Times actually blew it up out of proportion into a big story that there had been a pause in the war when in fact it had just really been mentioned as part of a briefing on something else, and suddenly it became a pause in the war. I do not know if anybody else can give a greater account of what it was that James Meek said last week.

  Q728  Syd Rapson: Was the name of the author disclosed who gave that information?

  Ms Gillan: It was James Meek from The Guardian and a reporter from The New York Times. James did say it was in conversation. He mentioned it in his piece, but it was much further down, but The New York Times used it as a story and said there has been a pause in the war.

  Mr Hewitt: I was repeatedly asked, because I was doing not only television but also a lot of radio and live radio. There must have been a two/three day period when almost every presenter would say to me, "What about this pause?" and I kept saying, "What pause?" There never was a pause and I would have reported it if there was. There certainly was 48 hours when a combination of the sandstorms, getting some of those convoys up the road, led to difficulties and I think at one stage one of the commanders said, "Look, we are running about 48 hours behind where we intended to be," but the idea that at some stage either British or American governments had decided on a pause was never true, and it was just, I am afraid, one of those stories that gathered currency but actually had no foundation in fact.

  Mr Neely: I have nothing much to add.

  Q729  Syd Rapson: You did not see much of a pause where you were.

  Mr Neely: There was certainly no pause as I saw it in what the Royal Marines were supposed to do. It was explained to me at many briefings that an army requires vast supplies and that, for example, the Americans and, indeed, the coalition forces who had pushed north required, I think it was said to me, half a million gallons of fuel a day, and it was the very success and speed of the push forward that made . . . If there was a pause, it was about supplies, but I experienced nothing.

  Mr Thompson: In that period, I think you are right, it was mainly the weather that did create some problems. We were to the west of Basra with 7th Armoured Brigade. In a way it was the short distance—the fact that they came up against resistance and therefore decided to stop on the outskirts of Basra—meant that in a way they put the breaks on. It was a change of gear, I would say, as they started to realise what sort of opposition they were up against and the fact that it was probably of a different nature than they had originally expected. So, yes, I think we all pretty much agree that it was not a real pause, but there were some weather difficulties, the speed of the advance by the Americans, and possibly the change of gear by the British on the ground as they came up against a different sort of tactic.

  Q730  Syd Rapson: Did you see any evidence at all that the military campaign changed because of your presence? You were reporting very powerfully, whether or not they adjusted their campaign style at all to fit in because the media were present.

  Mr Thompson: I will tell you one anecdote which actually comes from a colleague of mine that I asked for some details. It is the only one I am aware of where the war was changed to fit in. Stuart Ramsey was with 101st Airborne of the American forces and he talks about the fact that they were very helpful, he had no editorial censorship at all. He says, "On more than one occasion battle plans were changed specifically to allow us to feed our stories. You may recall"—this is a message to me—"an interview with Colonel Hughes"—his commanding officer—"that you did live when you were in Baghdad. He actually suspended a firefight to do the live with you and then resumed it afterwards. And that is the truth." That is the only evidence I have of battle plans being changed because of the media.

  Q731  Syd Rapson: Anyone else?

  Mr Neely: None at all. They did not wait for us in any way, shape or form.

  Mr Hewitt: I think there were occasions when I would have quite liked our unit to have gone off and done something so I could have investigated things, but the idea of suggesting 10 Abrams tanks, eight Bradley armoured vehicles and various other military vehicles divert in order to help the 10 o'clock News on BBC1 that was not going to happen.

  Q732  Chairman: More difficult and potentially corrosive about the whole enterprise being slowed down and the wheels coming off was the argument coming out of Washington, replicated in the newspapers, that the whole strategy was up the creek, that the forces sent in were too light, not sufficiently numerous, reinforcements would have to come in pretty damn quickly, and what they needed was heavier equipment, heavier tanks, and the internal debate in Washington figured very, very prominently for a number of days. Obviously, aware of this, did you pick up any argument over whether the US and, to a lesser extent, the British had got the whole configuration of the forces wrong and the resistance meant that the forces available were not gong to meet the task? That took place around that time of the pause, one fed into the other, and it meant that people became quite nervous that the whole venture was destined to fail.

  Ms Gillan: One of the things that happens when you are there is that you do not find out about any of these debates, particularly if you are in isolation, with just the World Service. These are not the main issues. If you are listening just to news headlines, you do not find out too much about it. What I found were incredible rumblings was about the fact that we were a reserve force, that we were not—you know, "we" meaning them—getting as much of the action as the Americans and were continually being held back, and that the game plan was being outlined by the Americans and they were not getting as much of the action as they possibly should have done. There was definitely that feeling. But, in terms of the politics of it, that was not discussed.

  Mr Hewitt: I have a view on that, slightly different from what you imagined. The Americans were taken by surprise in places like As Samãwah. General Blunt said to me personally, "We had expected that we would be greeted by cheering crowds there. In the end, we encountered about 2,000 Fedeyeen who were forcing other remnants of the Iraqi army to fight." Their view was actually the preponderance of tank units was a slight problem and in fact sorting out those pockets had to be done by not heavy armour but by the 101st Airborne that certainly in As Samãwah came in behind the unit I was with and elements of the 82nd Airborne. So they had to adapt their plan. There was no question—certainly to me at Baghdad Airport General Blunt was very candid about this—the level of resistance they met was greater and they had not expected this kind of quasi-guerrilla campaign along the route of the convoys. That was the major adjustment they had to make during the campaign, how to get round these towns without getting bogged down and yet at the same time pacify them enough to get the convoys through so they could reach the objective of Baghdad.

  Q733  Chairman: They felt the choice of going fairly light and not in overwhelming numbers was the right strategy.

  Mr Hewitt: I think in the end there was a slight problem, particularly in Baghdad, that when you go into urban areas with tanks and Bradley fighting vehicles that is very heavy fire power and there is no doubt from what I witnessed that some civilian casualties were caused because of that and because they did not have sufficient numbers who were on foot. The way Americans fight wars, they like to fight from their vehicles. My experience of the British, although not in this particular conflict, is they are much more willing to get out, take their Kevlar helmets off and to communicate with the local people, to talk to the local people. There is both a different culture and to an extent a different style of fighting.

  Mr Neely: The marines fight light and they did not encounter anything that made them wish that they had any other reinforcements or that they would fight in any other way. The only thing that happened in the end that was not a plan is that Basra did not fall, did not implode, and they were then faced with the very thing that they did not want, which was an attack on a major city, guerrilla warfare, fighting on Saddam's streets, and the briefing just before the attack on Basra reflected that. I think there was a seriousness from the commanding officer of the Royal Marines that this is the moment when we may lose a lot of people. As it was, we drove in in 45 minutes.

  Mr Thompson: The media influence. Well, some are going to say that it is the media influence that created such a high awareness of possible weapons of mass destruction. I do not think it was the media who brought it to that level. There is no doubt that every coalition trooper who went into Iraq believed that there was a greater likelihood than not that they would be attacked by weapons of mass destruction. It certainly went up to the very highest levels I was aware of, who believed that it was a matter of when and not if they would be attacked by weapons of mass destruction. It was certainly the great anxiety for everybody, us included, as well as the military, going into the country. We had been led to believe, and clearly our military had been led to believe, that they would be faced by weapons of mass destruction. The colonel in one of the units I was with at one stage said, "It will not be long now. We all know that when the frontline of the coalition forces cross the Euphrates, which could be some time today"—which is probably where Gavin was—"that is when we have been told he will deploy weapons of mass destruction. Saddam Hussein will know that there is no longer a great obstacle to the coalition forces reaching Baghdad and himself, so that is when he will deploy." Clearly the whole issue of weapons of mass destruction was played out in the media but I believe that it was not us who influenced the senior officers of the coalition forces to believe that it was a very real threat.

  Q734  Mr Cran: The proposition sometimes put forward is that the allies, perhaps more so than the Americans, were rather sanguine about the looting and disorder. Is that something that you have a view about? Why do you think our forces were unable to prevent looting and disorder or is it just something they could not have done very much about anyway?

  Mr Thompson: I have two incidences. In Basra before I left—it was just as the British forces were starting to go over the bridge and go into town—we were in a Pajero, a black Pajero, and we saw going down the other side of the road all these people pushing a Pajero. We leapt out to try to help the local Iraqis and then realised they were actually looting them. That was fairly indicative of what we saw across the country really. I think at that stage, to be honest, the British forces did not have control of Basra and I think they did get a grip fairly quickly. Within two days I was in Baghdad, where clearly there seemed to be no ability or willingness to stop the looting—mainly because part of the first wave in was the US Marine Corps, who I was aware of, who when we talked to them about the levels of looting and the levels of sniping in the street, said, to quote an officer, "We are fighting men. We are here to fight. We don't do policing." It is simply their belief that that is a post-war function that is not theirs. That is somebody else's job. They are there to take the city, full stop. That was pretty much what appeared to happen in those early days in Baghdad. They were there to take the city or secure areas of it, and it took a while, and the looting as far as they could see was something that would get dealt with at some time in the future.

  Mr Neely: For me it was summed up in the early minutes going into Basra, when, as we were driving in there were people going the other way loaded up basically with everything they could put on their backs. But for the marines they had certain key objectives in the city and they were not going to be interrupted from doing that by stopping people carrying away lampshades or whatever it happened to be. We went in at nightfall. The following morning we were near the main Basra teaching hospital and the doctors were begging the marines to stop people coming into the car park and stealing cars, ambulances. It resulted in fact in a man driving a car out of the hospital main gate, and the marines firing on that vehicle and in the end seriously wounding the man who subsequently died. There was very little effort to stop the widespread looting of the main port area in Basra, which involving the burning of the Sheraton Hotel, ships were set on fire, residential places, storage areas. There was a road block which the Marines had set up, and indeed the 7th Armoured, at various points but there was no real attempt to stop the looting. That was my experience.

  Mr Hewitt: I think, to an extent, in the early days after the so-called end of the war, if we time that to when the statue came down, there was an extent to which the American commanders were sanguine about looting. I remember, it must have been at the end of that week, when I was at Baghdad Airport talking to General Blunt and talking about the looting, he did not see it as a major problem and I think pointed out that these were people who had been without things for a long time, who had a great deal of residual resentment towards the authorities, in the sense that the authorities had looted them in the past, and this was an opportunity to get back a little bit and to claim what was theirs. I would not want to exaggerate it but there was no question that was part of the rationale in the early days, and certainly in the unit that I was with on the western side of Baghdad we saw all kinds of cars piled high with materials but we did not stop them. In a sense, it was regarded almost that these people were enjoying the liberation which was taking place in the city. I also have to say, and I think this will become a big issue in future—and I can only speak for the unit that I travelled with—that in the training in Kuwait, certainly in the time that I was there, the word "looting" never came up; there was no kind of preparation for what might happen when we got to Baghdad because the expectation was two-fold, first of all, that the Iraqi army would largely stay in place and that, in a sense, once the Americans arrived in Baghdad a lot of the problems of security would be passed to the Iraqi army. In fact, I remember one day when my unit had destroyed so much equipment—and it was quite extraordinary, tanks were going up and these were Iraqi tanks—and late in the day word came down, I guess from the brigade headquarters, "Stop destroying so much Iraqi equipment because we are going to need an Iraqi army". That was the presumption, that there would be some remnant of Iraqi authority there and that it would not completely fall apart. That came as a surprise. I cannot talk for the planning which was being done in Washington, but in terms of my unit there was absolutely no planning at all for how you would deal with looters or how you would deal with a civilian population that was taking the law into its own hands.

  Ms Gillan: I think, also, with the rapid way in which the war turned, there was a point at which everyone was talking about pockets of resistance and unexpected insurgence to suddenly being welcomed in the streets, and I think the whole thing took people by surprise. In fact, I do not think we realised what was going on for a while. We would be going through a town with women walking up the street with big bits of corrugated iron on their heads, and how would you know that that would be unusual? There were walking away with lots of different things but it was not television sets or anything else, they were looting the most basic possible things that you would not even think people would steal. I think it took them two or three days to realise that this was what was going on, and by that time all the stuff had been stolen.

  Q735  Mr Cran: Your answer is a very interesting one because I get a very clear picture (at least I hope it is clear) that from the American point of view it is "This is just peace-keeping and, as it were, preventing looting and so on; something somebody else does. We are fighting soldiers". Your answer is interesting because what it implies is that our armed forces really had not thought very much about this aspect of their job. Is that correct? Is that the sense of those of you who were attached to British forces?

  Ms Gillan: I would say that they certainly would not have anticipated that that was going to be part of their job; they were there to fight a war and they did not really think the whole thing would start falling apart almost immediately. Obviously soldiers say "We are trained to do what we are trained to do, and other people are trained to do peace-keeping duties" and they would rather not stay around and do peace-keeping duties, but they can do them and they know that they can do them. Obviously, once they realised what was going on they tried to turn that around, but I do not think they had anticipated that that was going to be part of their job.

  Q736  Mr Cran: Equally, some would say that the British Army has got a great deal of experience of this type of approach to things, whereas the Americans did not. I am getting something very different from you.

  Mr Neely: I had two different experiences in Um Qasr, which is a smaller place, obviously, than Basra. There was looting almost from the beginning, which the Marines tried to crack down on straight away; they felt it was part of a sabotage of the invasion, they did not think it was simply local guys stealing stuff. I think the response to that got more and more robust, to the point where snipers who could shoot over a distance of 2km were being put at certain points with orders to shoot to kill looters. When it came to Basra, which is a much bigger place, a city the size of Birmingham, I think they felt they were stretched enough. What really surprised me, I have to say, was not that they did not crack down on people stealing white goods but that, for example, at the secret police headquarters there was not a single Marine for days and days and days. I went there, I think, within a day or two of arriving in Basra and people were pulling out files. We said we wanted to prosecute the Iraqi leadership for war crimes, but there seemed to be no attempt to gather the evidence; there was not a single British soldier covering the headquarters. There were some very interesting things being pulled out. One man pulled out a book which was an account of the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait and the taking of Kuwaiti prisoners. For the Kuwaitis this was a huge issue: where are the prisoners? It became part of the post-1991 conflict negotiations. No one was going to the intelligence headquarters to retrieve those documents, and they were just being pulled apart by people, who were taking vast files home with them to show their friends. That is what surprised me, not that British troops were not stopping the looting of electrical equipment.

  Q737  Mr Cran: You were in Basra, were you not?

  Mr Neely: Yes, correct.

  Q738  Mr Cran: Do you feel that there was a systematic plan as soon as our forces got into Basra to, as it were, guard the key installations such as the hospitals, such as the telephone exchange—whatever—schools? Was there any of that?

  Mr Neely: Yes, the city was divided up so that there was a clear line where the Royal Marines' area of control ended and the 7th Armoured Brigade's began. In fact, I have unembedded in order to travel around the city, and from my point of view there was a big difference between the levels of control in different areas. That may have reflected the targets that the looters had in mind but I felt that the Marines were in control. I felt other military units were not and had less discipline in those areas.

  Q739  Mr Cran: Chairman, just one final question, which is a question about the Special Forces. Did any of you get to learn anything about what Special Forces were doing? Do you have a view on whether the secrecy that surrounds Special Forces is sustainable or not? Clearly none of you.

  Mr Neely: I knew what they were doing because I had the plan five days before the invasion began, so I knew that one of the first actions on the Al Faw peninsula was that Special Forces would go in some hours before the main contingent from 42 command of the Royal Marines, but personally I believe I never came across Special Forces.

  Mr Cran: They must have been very successful.

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