Select Committee on Defence Third Report



    1.  The men and women of the Armed Forces deserve the highest praise for their conduct and performance in Iraq. The commitment required of them not only during the combat operations but also in the subsequent peacekeeping and peace support roles is of a very high order. (Paragraph 1)

    2.  We extend our deepest sympathies to the families of those who lost their lives. (Paragraph 1)

    3.  We welcome the openness of MoD and the Armed Forces in publishing its 'lessons learned' reports on operations in Iraq and we commend them for the efforts they made to do so promptly after the major combat phase had concluded. (Paragraph 6)

    4.  We regret that MoD has failed to provide us with certain documents which we have requested and has demonstrated on occasion less co-operation and openness than we have the right to expect as a select committee of the House of Commons. (Paragraph 21)

Special Forces

    5.  The 'increasing role' of Special Forces was demonstrated in operations in Afghanistan, and has now been emphatically reinforced by the crucial role which they played in Iraq. Their skills and professionalism provide a unique capability to the total British military effort. (Paragraph 23)

Planning and Strategy

The debate within the Pentagon

    6.  The British, who had had embedded staff officers at Centcom from September 2001, were the first foreigners to be brought into the American planning process and appear to have been influential in the overall shape of the plan. In this the British-American relationship also drew on more than 10 years of close collaboration between the RAF and USAF in enforcing the northern and southern no-fly zones over Iraq. We are not, however, able to define the areas in which the British made specific contribution to what was essentially an American campaign plan, other than in the consideration of the northern option and in niche capabilities such as special forces operations. (Paragraph 43)

Effect of Operation Fresco

    7.  Although the Armed Forces commitment to Operation Fresco did not prevent them from putting together an effective force package for the operation in Iraq, it did limit the total numbers. It also adversely affected some elements of the force (by for example requiring high readiness units to move at short notice from fire-fighting to deploying to Iraq). In the longer term it could have undermined the Armed Forces' ability to sustain combat operations. (Paragraph 56)

    8.  Overall, the demands that Operation Telic placed on UK Armed Forces in the context of other operational requirements were very close to the maximum that they could sustain. (Paragraph 57)

Planning Assumptions

    9.  We believe that MoD should consider whether for major equipment and capabilities the planning assumptions process is sufficiently flexible to match the very wide range of types and scales of operations which our Armed Forces may be required to undertake in the future. (Paragraph 59)

The Northern Option to the Southern Option

    10.  From the evidence we have seen it appears that the late decision to move from the north to the south led to a requirement for the UK to deploy a significantly larger force—at least one brigade, something over 5,000 troops. This may well have been a contributory factor in complicating the various logistical problems that were later faced. (Paragraph 69)

The force balance

    11.  MoD needs to urgently re-examine the mechanisms, including the use of reserves, by which units are brought to war establishment with minimal disruption in all important preparatory phases of the operations. (Paragraph 71)

    12.  Overall, however, the signs are that, above Brigade level (i.e. at Division level), UK Armed Forces have become a one operation force—one operation which must be followed by a lengthy period of recovery before they can be in position to mount another similar operation, even within a coalition. (Paragraph 74)

    13.  We are pleased to learn that according to Lessons for the Future, MoD intends to review the generation of force elements at readiness and the implications for notice to move times. But we feel that MoD should be more explicit in articulating what scale of forces can be offered for expeditionary operations of choice in the future, while ensuring adequate resources, equipment and training time. (Paragraph 75)

Command and control

Higher Command Levels

    14.  The appointment of a deployed UK National Contingent Commander worked effectively in Operation Telic. (Paragraph 82)

    15.  We expect MoD to revisit the question of the deployability of PJHQ, raised in the SDR, in the light of recent operations, and we look forward to their conclusions. (Paragraph 82)

Command relations with the Americans

    16.  We recommend that MoD considers whether the highest levels of British command structures might be made more adaptable so as to be able to operate more closely in parallel with their American counterparts, when UK and US forces are operating together. (Paragraph 84)

The Maritime Component

    17.  The Royal Fleet Auxiliary made a vital contribution to the operation. MoD should ensure that the shortcomings which were highlighted are addressed. (Paragraph 88)


    18.  There is clear evidence of UK influence on the air targeting operations of the coalition. Principally this influence seems to have been applied to issues of perception, specifically how attacking particular targets would be received by European allies. The extent to which the UK persuaded the US out of attacking certain targets on grounds of principle is less clear. We asked MoD for specific examples of UK influence but they failed to provide any, even on a classified basis. (Paragraph 98)

    19.  We feel that the shortcomings in the practice and training of close air support by the RAF and land forces which have emerged in recent operations must be urgently addressed. This will require a reassessment of the numbers of and equipment for Forward Air Controllers, both on the ground and in the air, the provision of adequate targeting pods for individual aircraft and significantly greater exercising of these capabilities in a joint environment. Such exercises are likely to have to take place overseas since, as we understand it, no UK based facility exists for such training. (Paragraph 104)

    20.  Effective and timely arrangements for assessing battle damage are crucial for continuously informing the campaign plan and for establishing whether the aim of minimising damage to civilians and civilian infrastructure has been achieved. We look to MoD to exploit the latest technological advances to further improve the speed and accuracy of battle damage assessment. (Paragraph 106)

Use of Reserves

Call-out and mobilisation

    21.  While we are pleased to learn that for Operations Telic 2 and 3, MoD has been able to give most reservists 21 days notice to report, we are concerned that for Telic 1 reservists were given 14 days notice to report, and in some cases considerably less. We expect MoD to ensure that the appropriate lessons are learned to avoid the need for such short notice to report, and to recognise the impact of this on reservists, their families and their employers. (Paragraph 116)

    22.  We expect MoD and the reserve organisations to take appropriate action to ensure that reservists are made fully aware of their liability for call out. (Paragraph 117)

    23.  We recommend that MoD consider what action can be taken to ensure that the substantial proportion of regular reservists who failed their medicals return to being 'fit for role'. (Paragraph 119)

    24.  Overall, it appears that the majority of reservists mobilising through Chilwell considered that they had received adequate training before being deployed. However, we are concerned about the non-alignment of TA and Regular shooting standards and expect MoD to address this issue as soon as possible. (Paragraph 122)

Finance and compensation issues

    25.  We are concerned to learn that some TA reservists experienced problems regarding their pay. We understand that for future operations, where significant numbers of reservists are deployed, PJHQ have agreed to the deployment of a Reserves Cell whose role will include issues such as pay and allowances. We expect MoD to ensure that this lesson is implemented in full. (Paragraph 125)

    26.  It is clearly wrong that reservists who are compulsorily mobilised for combat operations should lose out financially. We note that to date only a small number of appeals have been made by reservists dissatisfied with their individual financial arrangements. We recommend that these be considered sympathetically and that MoD monitor closely the numbers and outcomes of such appeals over the coming months. (Paragraph 126)

    27.  We expect MoD to ensure that the procedures for reservists claiming financial assistance are streamlined and less intrusive. (Paragraph 127)

Employment issues

    28.  We note that MoD has commissioned a study to measure the degree of employer support for the mobilisation of the Reserve and look forward to seeing the findings and the lessons that MoD identify. But we consider that MoD needs to adopt a more proactive approach to identifying cases where reservists have experienced employment problems following a period of mobilisation. Reservists need to be assured that they will not lose their jobs, as a result of being mobilised, and that support will be available if they encounter such problems. (Paragraph 129)

    29.  We are very concerned to learn that 11 members of the TA in Germany (over a quarter of the TA in Germany deployed to Operation Telic), who form part of a key squadron (the Amphibious Engineer Squadron), lost their jobs with civilian employers on returning from deployment on Operation Telic. We expect MoD and the reserve organisations to raise these matters with the relevant authorities within Germany and with the civilian employers of the TA reservists in Germany. (Paragraph 131)

    30.  We are concerned that the requirement on reservists to inform their employers of their reserve status seems to have been announced ahead of the findings of MoD's own study on employer support. There does not seem to have been prior consultation with members of the Reserve. We recommend that MoD set out why it chose to make this change at this time. (Paragraph 132)

Impact on the reserves

    31.  It is unreasonable that reserve personnel deployed on Operation Telic should have to do additional service, on top of the six to nine months taken up by that tour, to qualify for their annual bounty and we recommend that MoD waives this requirement. (Paragraph 134)

    32.  MoD has identified a number of lessons relating to the Reserve from the experience of Operation Telic. We look to MoD to implement these lessons in full. We welcome the announcement that, following Operation Telic, MoD is adjusting the arrangements for the higher management of the Reserve and that the Directorate of Reserve Forces and Cadets will come under the direct command of the Vice Chief of the Defence Staff, which reflects the importance of this key part of our Armed Forces. (Paragraph 135)

    33.  Throughout our inquiry we have come into contact with a range of reservists who served on Operation Telic. As with the Regular service personnel, we have been impressed with their dedication and the invaluable contribution they made. We concur with MoD's conclusion that reservists 'showed the highest quality and commitment… their value in all phases of an operation has again been demonstrated.' (Paragraph 136)

Defence Medical Services


    34.  We find it worrying that some five years after the Strategic Defence Review the problems in the DMS, in particular the problem of under manning, appear to be as bad as they ever have been. We were alarmed to learn that for the major specialties for war MoD had 'emptied the boxes' for Operation Telic. Further deployments in the near future are only likely to exacerbate the problems. (Paragraph 143)

    35.  We acknowledge that the manning issue is not an easy one to address quickly, but we look to MoD, the Department of Health, the NHS and the medical profession to support the DMS in its efforts to find new and innovative solutions. (Paragraph 144)

    36.  We recommend that MoD bring together the Department of Health, the NHS and the medical profession with the DMS in order urgently to identify solutions to the problem of increasing specialism among surgeons in the NHS. (Paragraph 146)

    37.  We are most concerned to learn that 47 medical reservists have resigned on returning from Operation Telic, and that MoD is aware of further resignations from Army medical reservists. The number of resignations represents some six per cent of the 760 medical reservists deployed. We expect MoD to monitor this issue closely, to identify the reasons behind the resignations, and to take account of these in its recruitment and retention efforts. (Paragraph 147)

Impact on the NHS

    38.  This was the first operation where all the medical personnel deployed came almost exclusively from the NHS and it appears that the arrangements, such as the liaison between MoD, the Department of Health, and NHS Trusts worked well. However, thankfully, the number of casualties was low and the arrangements for treating casualties in NHS hospitals were not fully tested. (Paragraph 149)

Medical equipment and supplies

    39.  We are pleased to learn that lessons about the need to have more medical supplies on the shelves rather than over-relying on UORs have been recognised. We expect MoD to identify the appropriate balance between holding items and relying on UORs. We also expect MoD to review any cases from Operation Telic where inadequate or insufficient equipment may have disadvantaged clinical outcomes and, if any such cases are identified, to take appropriate action to avoid such situations occurring in the future. (Paragraph 152)


Sea Lift and Air Lift

    40.  We conclude that deploying such a large force to the Gulf in the time available was a significant achievement. (Paragraph 155)

    41.  MoD should identify how the challenges of limited landing slots for aircraft and small sea ports could be addressed in the future. (Paragraph 158)

    42.  We recognise the achievement of the DTMA in securing the sea lift for Operation Telic. We recommend that, drawing on the experience from Operation Telic, MoD should undertake a review of ro-ro shipping to inform its future planning. (Paragraph 162)

    43.  The action taken by MoD ensured that the UK had sufficient lift, but the outcome could well have been different. For any future operations, MoD needs to avoid competing directly with the US for outsize lift and co-ordinate its efforts to secure such assets. (Paragraph 163)

    44.  Recent operations have highlighted the need for sufficient sea and air lift. We look to MoD to ensure that those assets that have performed their task well are available to our Armed Forces in the future. We regret that the A400M programme, which is intended to meet the UK's Future Transport Aircraft requirement, has experienced delays to its planned in-service date. We expect MoD to ensure that the current forecast in-service date is met and that any capability gaps from delays already experienced are filled. (Paragraph 167)

Urgent Operational Requirements

    45.  We acknowledge that there were constraints on when the UOR process could begin, but it is of real concern that in some cases this resulted in Armed Forces personnel not having access to the full complement of equipment, such as Minimi machine guns and Underslung Grenade Launchers. (Paragraph 177)

    46.  Much of the equipment procured as UORs made a significant contribution to the success of the campaign and, in most cases, industry supplied equipment at very short notice. However UORs are not the solution in every case. MoD needs to be better informed of which types of equipment and capabilities can be delivered in UOR timescales—there were a number of cases where equipment was not delivered by the time required or where users did not have a full complement. We do not consider that MoD planning properly recognised that the delivery date for a piece of equipment and the date by which a capability is achieved are not the same. If personnel are to be confident and fully efficient with their equipment there must be adequate time for familiarisation, training and integration. Furthermore, given the desire stated in the recent White Paper to be able to intervene anywhere in the world at short notice, we believe that the risks of relying on UORs instead of holding adequate stocks, are not sufficiently well analysed or understood in MoD's risk assessment processes. (Paragraph 181)

    47.  There are likely to be positive lessons from the UOR process which have applicability to MoD's normal equipment acquisition processes: for example, where UORs were used to accelerate existing programmes. We expect MoD to identify and implement these and reflect on the appropriateness of UOR procurement becoming institutionalised. (Paragraph 183)

    48.  We expect MoD to evaluate fully the performance of the equipment procured as UORs and the specific enhancements they provided to the UK's military capabilities. This evaluation must also take full account of the views of those members of the Armed Forces who used the equipment in action. Disposing of useful equipment cannot represent good value for money if it then has to be re-acquired in the future. (Paragraph 184)

The start of operations

From planning to operations—what was found

    49.  The Committee congratulates the Royal Navy for the success of the complex and demanding operation to clear mines from the waterway to Umm Qasr and urges the MoD to review, as a matter of urgency, the capability of the Royal Navy to undertake mine clearance operations in shallow and very shallow waters, given the likely need for increasing amphibious operations in the littoral. (Paragraph 195)

The Approach to Basra

    50.  The operation to take Basra was a significant military achievement. One measure of its success—and in the context of an effects-based operation an important one—was that just one week later there were joint UK/Iraqi patrols. (Paragraph 202)

Major defence equipment

Overall performance

    51.  We are pleased to learn that in most cases the major defence equipments performed well in the difficult conditions encountered in Iraq although, given the nature of the enemy, many equipments were not tested to the full. (Paragraph 209)

Availability of equipment

    52.  The availability of most defence equipment was generally high during Operation Telic. However, it is disappointing that an impressive capability such as HMS Ocean is let down by unreliable landing craft and 'that there are difficulties with the acceptance of the new landing craft.' We expect MoD to remedy this issue as soon as possible to ensure that the capabilities of HMS Ocean are maximised. (Paragraph 213)

Communication and Information Systems

    53.  It concerns us that for the next four to five years we will continue to be dependent upon Skynet 4 which has recognised limitations and which let us down on this occasion. (Paragraph 215)

    54.  Operation Telic highlighted serious shortcomings in the reliability, capacity and redundancy of the UK's communications and information systems, which to a large extent are a consequence of under-investment in the past. While we acknowledge that work is in hand to address these shortcomings, we find it very worrying that it will be some time before any real improvements will be seen, particularly given the frequency with which UK Armed Forces are now involved in operations, and the increased need to communicate effectively not only within UK forces but also with our allies. (Paragraph 218)

Combat identification

    55.  We welcome the overall finding of the National Audit Office that on Operation Telic, the measures, procedures and training relating to combat identification were largely effective. We are disappointed that a copy of the review of combat identification undertaken by the Vice Chief of Defence Staff, which was provided to the National Audit Office, was not made available to the Defence Committee during its inquiry. (Paragraph 222)

    56.  We expect MoD to make available to Parliament and the Committee the summaries of the conclusions of the reports of the Boards of Inquiry into individual blue on blue incidents as soon as possible and for the summaries to provide sufficient information on the causes of the incidents and the lessons learned in order to reassure the Armed Forces and ourselves that everything practicable was done to minimise the possibility of such incidents. (Paragraph 229)

    57.  We expect MoD to implement the lessons from Operation Telic relating to combat identification. MoD should push forward with the work with its allies to agree on a single system. The latter is particularly important given that future UK military action is most likely to be as part of a coalition. We note MoD's view that the opportunities for fratricide in an increasingly complex battle space are likely to increase, but look to MoD to identify the required action and make the necessary investment to ensure that such incidents are reduced to a minimum. (Paragraph 233)


    58.  We are pleased to hear that, despite its chequered past, Phoenix made a valuable contribution to the operation. We support the robust approach being adopted in relation to the Watchkeeper UAV programme, which aims to 'nail the… requirement and to make sure that the companies deliver that which we have asked for' although we continue to be concerned that the accelerated in-service date for the programme may not be met. We will continue to monitor the progress of this key programme. (Paragraph 236)

    59.  We consider it well worthwhile that MoD is assessing the usefulness of man-portable UAVs for current operations in Iraq. We expect MoD to reflect the results of this assessment when deciding on the overall mix of UAVs for the future. (Paragraph 237)


    60.  We conclude that there are key lessons from the United States' experience in Iraq which MoD needs to take into account when developing its tactics, techniques and procedures for its Apache helicopters. We expect MoD to take the required action to ensure that UK Apache helicopters are as capable as they can be, given the new sorts of environments and operations they are likely to be operating in. (Paragraph 240)

Sea King

    61.  The Sea King helicopter made a significant contribution to the operation and highlighted the benefit of acquiring equipment that is sufficiently adaptable. However, we are concerned to learn that, at times, the Sea King provided the only dedicated stand-off sensor coverage for 3 Commando Brigade's operations on the Al Faw peninsula. We expect MoD to ensure that the Astor programme meets its in-service date to fill the current capability gap. (Paragraph 241)

    62.  We expect MoD to ensure that the lessons identified to minimise the Sea King's vulnerability are fully implemented. (Paragraph 242)

The Defence White Paper

    63.  We have announced our intention to undertake an inquiry into the Defence White Paper. We will also continue to monitor the progress of the FRES programme as part of our annual inquiry into defence procurement. (Paragraph 246)

Personal equipment and protection

    64.  We are pleased to note that, following its initial rejection of the concerns about personal equipment and protection, MoD now acknowledges that there was a problem which had a detrimental impact on service personnel. Robust arrangements should now be introduced to gauge the views of more junior ranks and specialists whose widespread concerns do not seem to be properly understood, reflected and acted upon by more senior commanders and officials further up the chain. (Paragraph 249)

Desert boots and clothing

    65.  The issue of the availability of desert clothing and boots during Operation Telic has been both a confusing and worrying story. MoD should clarify its position on the circumstances in which desert clothing and boots are to be used and ensure that all service personnel understand the position. MoD clearly underestimated the impact on morale of failing to provide service personnel with the clothing and boots which they required and expected. We find it unacceptable that some two weeks after the start of the combat phase 60 per cent of the additional clothing requirement that had been ordered was not available in theatre. We understand that MoD has now increased its stockholding of desert and tropical clothing and boots up to a total of 32,000 sets. We expect MoD to keep the level of stockholding under review. (Paragraph 257)

Enhanced body armour

    66.  Body armour is another example of where MoD's in-theatre distribution and tracking led to shortages in critical equipment. MoD should identify and implement solutions to address these shortcomings and ensure that service personnel receive the equipment they are entitled to. (Paragraph 262)

    67.  We will be interested to see the results of the audit of previously issued body armour components and the action that MoD plans to take in response to the findings. (Paragraph 264)

    68.  Before any firm decision on whether enhanced body armour should become a personal issue item is made, the views of service personnel, as well as the logistic implications of a change in policy, must be considered. If the conclusion is that enhanced body armour is not required for all operations, efforts should nonetheless be made to ensure that where it is required it is issued to personnel before their deployment. (Paragraph 265)

SA80 A2

    69.  The modifications to the SA80 have provided UK service personnel with a more effective weapon system. MoD must ensure that users of the weapon are kept fully aware of the cleaning requirements for different environments and provide the necessary cleaning material. Concerns about the weapon's safety catch must be monitored and, where necessary, appropriate action taken. (Paragraph 267)


    70.  Our examination suggests that there were problems with the supply of ammunition when the fighting echelon began operations. MoD accepts that in the very early stages there were some problems and not all service personnel had the right amount. We expect MoD to establish the scale of the problem, to investigate any specific cases identified, in particular the tragic incident involving the six Royal Military Policemen, and to implement the necessary action to avoid any re-occurrence in the future. (Paragraph 270)

Night vision capability

    71.  We understand that MoD is currently reviewing the scales of issue of night vision equipment. We consider that the ability to operate confidently and effectively at night greatly enhances force protection and capability. We look to MoD to examine the case for providing night vision capability to all service personnel who are required to operate at night. (Paragraph 272)

NBC equipment

    72.  We find it alarming that MoD had to 'move Combopens around in theatre' to fulfil the requirement. (Paragraph 274)

    73.  Given the potential threat posed by Iraqi armed forces, sufficient chemical warfare detection and protection were particularly important for this operation. However, there were serious shortcomings in the supply and distribution system and the required levels of detection and protection were not always available to everyone. Indeed, while MoD ideally would have liked each serviceman and woman to have had four suits available, only one suit per person was available, which MoD judged to be sufficient for this operation. Furthermore it is essential that personnel have confidence in the effectiveness of the equipment with which they are provided. It was fortuitous that service personnel did not suffer as a consequence, but had the Iraqis used chemical weapons systematically, as employed in the Iran-Iraq war, the operational consequences would have been severe. The lack of armoured vehicle filters seems to us to be a matter of the utmost seriousness. The lessons identified need to be implemented as a matter of urgency to ensure that servicemen and women serving on operations have complete and justified confidence that chemical warfare attacks will be detected in time, that their individual protection equipment will save their lives and that operational success will not be imperilled. This is particularly important given that UK service personnel are more likely to be operating in such environments in the future. (Paragraph 281)

Logistics and asset tracking

    74.  Given how critical logistics are to operations, we expect MoD to implement the lessons identified in its reports on Operation Telic, and also those lessons identified by the National Audit Office. We intend to closely monitor the progress of MoD's end-to-end review. (Paragraph 283)

    75.  We are in no doubt that one of the key lessons to emerge from Operation Telic concerns operational logistic support and specifically, the requirement for a robust system to track equipment and stocks both into and within theatre—a requirement which was identified in the 1991 Gulf War. The lack of such a system on Operation Telic resulted in numerous problems with the in-theatre distribution of critical items such as ammunition, body armour and NBC equipment. MoD has told us that having such a system is top of its logistics priorities and we understand that proposals will be submitted to Ministers in the spring. We urge Ministers to provide the necessary funding. However, we find it alarming that a full system is unlikely to be in place within the next five years. (Paragraph 291)

Accommodation and food

    76.  We are pleased to learn that the majority of Armed Forces personnel in Iraq are now in satisfactory air-conditioned accommodation. Such accommodation is vital in ensuring that Armed Forces personnel can perform their roles effectively when they are deployed to harsh environments. It should be a priority of any operation that appropriate accommodation is made available as quickly as possible. (Paragraph 296)

    77.  During our visit to Iraq we were impressed with the quality of the food provided to our Armed Forces, particularly given the difficult conditions, such as the very high temperatures, in which catering personnel had to work. (Paragraph 299)

Operational Welfare Package and Families

    78.  We regret the decision to withdraw the free postal service in February 2004. (Paragraph 300)

    79.  The operational welfare package in place for Operation Telic worked well and was well received. However, we are concerned that early entry forces saw little benefit from the package. MoD acknowledges that this is an area where improvements are needed. We expect MoD to implement such improvements as quickly as possible. (Paragraph 302)

    80.  We are pleased to learn that the needs of families are being addressed and that there is now a families element to the operational welfare package. (Paragraph 305)

    81.  MoD is currently considering further ways of providing improved information to families. Given how important this is to families, MoD should implement the improvements identified as quickly as possible. (Paragraph 306)

    82.  The families of reservists have not, in the past, received the same level of support as the families of regular service personnel. We recommend that MoD takes action to address this imbalance. This is particularly important given the increased contribution which reservists are now making and are expected to make to future operations. (Paragraph 309)

    83.  MoD needs to ensure that service personnel have access to the required level of life and accident insurance while on operations. (Paragraph 310)


    84.  We conclude that, overall, MoD's casualty reporting arrangements worked well during Operation Telic. We emphasise the critical importance of ensuring that next of kin are informed of any casualty by the MoD and not the media. We welcome the improvements in the revised arrangements introduced, which now better reflect the needs of bereaved families. (Paragraph 316)

    85.  We welcome the fact that widows' benefits have been extended to unmarried partners of service personnel who die in conflict, and that bereaved families can now remain in their service accommodation until they are ready to leave. We look to MoD to implement any further improvements which are identified by the current tri-Service review of bereavement policy. (Paragraph 318)


    86.  The high number of operations which UK service personnel have been involved in has had an adverse impact on their training. We expect MoD to ensure that service personnel returning from operations catch up with their training as soon as possible and that promotion opportunities are not adversely affected because of their operational deployment. But we recognise that, in the short term, the most important point is for service personnel to recuperate properly and that this includes the opportunity to take the leave to which they are entitled. However, the Government must recognise that the Armed Forces are simply not large enough to sustain the pattern of operational deployment since the Strategic Defence Review permanently without serious risk of damage to their widely admired professional standards. (Paragraph 320)

Post operational health

    87.  We are pleased to hear that MoD has commissioned research into the physical and psychological health of personnel who deployed and that the initial research is being followed up in a major study to commence early this year. We look forward to seeing the outcome of this work and expect MoD to take appropriate action in response to its findings. (Paragraph 322)

    88.  We are pleased to learn that the take up and use of the new medical form appears to have been high and that, despite the increased administrative burden, it has proved popular with users. We note that MoD is reviewing the format in order to ensure even greater utility for future operations. (Paragraph 323)

    89.  We welcome the measures relating to post traumatic stress disorder which MoD introduced for Operation Telic. We look to MoD to monitor this aspect closely and also other illnesses experienced as a result of being deployed on Operation Telic. We are disappointed by the delays to the publication of MoD's paper covering the health lessons from Operation Granby and the experience of Operation Telic. Given the level of interest in these matters, we expect MoD to publish this paper as soon as possible. (Paragraph 327)

Costs and recovery

Resource Accounting and Budgeting

    90.  Resource Accounting and Budgeting (RAB) is a complex financial process and MoD needs to ensure that its staff are appropriately trained in its application. We remain concerned that the application of RAB may, perhaps through a misinterpretation of its aim, have led to stock holdings being reduced too far. We recommend that MoD undertakes a review which assesses whether RAB is leading to poor decision making, in particular in relation to stock level holdings. (Paragraph 333)

Cost of the operation

    91.  It will be some time before the costs of the operation in 2003-04 are known—perhaps not until late summer 2004 when they are published in MoD's Annual Report and Accounts. MoD acknowledges that it has taken longer than expected to assess the costs of stock consumed and equipment lost or damaged during the conflict phase. We expect MoD to ensure this work is advanced as quickly as possible and for the outcome to be reported to Parliament as soon as it is completed. (Paragraph 339)

    92.  We expect MoD to recover costs owed to them by other coalition partners as soon as possible. (Paragraph 340)

Funding of the operation

    93.  We expect MoD to replace the equipment, and the stores and supplies, necessary to restore the operational capabilities consumed or lost during Operation Telic as soon as possible, to ensure that Armed Forces personnel can undertake their roles effectively. (Paragraph 344)

Transition and Reconstruction

Plans and preparations

    94.  Being a junior partner in a coalition constrained the British Government in its ability to plan independently for after the conflict. (Paragraph 355)


    95.  We believe that it was a misjudgement by the Government to have decided that planning to meet the needs of the Iraqi people following a conflict was particularly sensitive—more sensitive, even, than the deploying of military forces. This misjudgement unnecessarily constrained planning for the post-conflict phase. (Paragraph 357)

    96.  It has also been suggested that DfID's role in post-conflict planning was constrained by the attitude of the then Secretary of State towards the prospect of military action. Although our witness from DfID denied that this was the case, we remain to be convinced. (Paragraph 358)

    97.  The poor co-ordination of planning within the US Administration meant that better co-ordinated British input into the process had less impact than it should have had. (Paragraph 362)

    98.  The need to maintain a unified Iraq under central control has been a constraint—usually a reasonable constraint—on British freedom of action in the south-east of the country. (Paragraph 364)

    99.  Perversely, the failure of the wider international community to support the coalition's military action did little or nothing to constrain that action, but did make it more difficult for the coalition to restore law and order and to administer Iraq once hostilities were over. (Paragraph 365)

Planning assumptions for the transitional phase

    100.  The Government was right to plan for a humanitarian crisis. Such a situation might have arisen, and the Government would have been rightly condemned if its preparations had been inadequate. (Paragraph 369)

    101.  For the Government to argue that it was unaware of the extent of the repressive brutality of the Iraqi regime strains credibility. It was widely known, not least because of information published by the Government. (Paragraph 375)

Insecurity and disorder in the transitional phase

    102.  Much has been made of the many Iraqis who were involved in looting and destruction in the immediate aftermath of the removal of Saddam Hussein's regime. It should not be forgotten that thousands more were locked up indoors, fearing for their security and for their lives. (Paragraph 379)

    103.  The scale and shape of the force provided were best suited to achieving the coalition's desired effects in the combat phase, but not to carrying those effects through into the post-conflict phase. We acknowledge, however, that the scale of force which might have best achieved these effects was beyond the Government's means. (Paragraph 387)

    104.  A harsh critic might argue that coalition planning assumed that it would be possible to employ elements of the Iraqi police, army and administration to maintain law and order, because the alternatives were too difficult to contemplate. That assumption was not only incorrect, but incautious. A realistic judgement, based on good intelligence, should have warned of the risk of serious disorder. (Paragraph 388)

    105.  It was indeed crucial to protect Iraq's oil infrastructure from damage, as the main potential source of future Iraqi wealth. But it was a mistake not to have identified and protected (and to have been seen to be protecting) other key buildings and infrastructure as a priority. (Paragraph 390)

    106.  If 'a few more' troops were needed to protect key sites, this should have been identified as a scenario at the planning stage, and these troops should have been found and deployed with this specific task in mind. (Paragraph 392)

    107.  The Government should have taken more care to identify in advance sites in Iraq likely to contain records of use to the coalition, and should have ensured that forces were provided to protect these sites from damage and looting. (Paragraph 397)

    108.  While coalition forces successfully removed Saddam Hussein's regime with remarkable speed, they were not able to establish themselves on the ground with sufficient speed and precision to avoid a damaging period of lawlessness during which much of the potential goodwill of the Iraqi people was squandered. (Paragraph 398)

    109.  None of these criticisms, however, should be seen to detract from the thoroughly impressive way in which individual members of Armed Forces personnel demonstrated their ability to accomplish the transition between warfighting and peacekeeping operations swiftly and effectively. (Paragraph 399)

    110.  We commend the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) for the performance of its humanitarian role in Iraq, before, during and after the combat phase of operations, and we commend British forces for the way in which they co-operated with the ICRC. (Paragraph 402)

Lessons for future campaigns

    111.  We recommend that the Government should consider closely, in the light of operations in Iraq, how the United Kingdom provides peace support capabilities, and in particular how the transition is managed between warfighting and peacekeeping. We further recommend that the Government should consider whether either a dedicated part of the Armed Forces, or even a separate organisation altogether, could be specifically tasked with providing these capabilities. (Paragraph 407)

    112.  We are concerned about the continuing requirement on the ground for specialists from the military in areas which would under other circumstances be provided by civilian organisations. Many of these specialists will be reservists, and their prolonged deployment may have adverse consequences for retention in specialisms which are already suffering from undermanning. (Paragraph 411)

    113.  We agree that the provision of language training will need to be re-examined if the Armed Forces are to be more involved in expeditionary operations in the future. In an effects-based operation aiming to win over hearts and minds, an ability to communicate with the local population is vital. (Paragraph 414)

    114.  Preparations should have been made in advance of the military campaign to ensure that police advice on maintaining law and order would be available as soon as possible after the end of the combat phase. (Paragraph 416)

    115.  While we support entirely the notion that Iraqis should be encouraged to take responsibility for their own security, we are concerned that local militias which have been allowed to operate in the south-east of Iraq may represent vested interests. There is a danger that these may seek to use their position to pursue agendas which might not be to the advantage of the people of Iraq more generally. (Paragraph 417)


    116.  The circumstances of the conflict in Iraq were particular: operations without broad international consensus in a country with a relatively advanced but extremely decrepit infrastructure. While MoD is right to assess whether a national capability to repair infrastructure is required, it would be wrong to assume that a capability which might have been useful in Iraq will necessarily be required in future operations. (Paragraph 422)

    117.  Quick Impact Projects are, as one of our interlocutors told us in Iraq, a 'band-aid' solution, which cannot hope to approach the scale of the reconstruction effort required in Iraq. But they have been a vital tool for showing that there are immediate benefits from the presence of coalition forces and the end of Saddam Hussein's rule. We commend all those involved. (Paragraph 425)

    118.  Coalition efforts to clear unexploded ordnance throughout Iraq will make the country a far safer place for the people who live there. But the failure to provide sufficient forces to guard and secure munitions sites in the weeks and months after the conflict cost Iraqi civilian lives, and also provided potential enemies of the coalition with a ready stock of easily accessible weaponry. (Paragraph 431)

    119.  The Government should look again at whether the relatively modest funds that it has dedicated to supporting the clearance of unexploded ordnance in Iraq are adequate for the task at hand. (Paragraph 432)

    120.  Mistakes were made in identifying potential local leaders, and without better intelligence and a better understanding of Iraqi society, such mistakes were probably inevitable. (Paragraph 437)

    121.  The Armed Forces have done their utmost to fulfil their responsibilities to the Iraqi people as the occupying power, and we applaud them. But they have been under-resourced for this enormous task. It is unreasonable to expect the military to have a fine-grained understanding of how an unfamiliar society operates; but without this understanding, and without substantial civilian support in the form of experts and interpreters to help them to gain this understanding, mistakes were bound to be made which would make it more difficult to construct the kind of Iraq that the coalition wants to see: stable, secure and prosperous; a threat neither to its neighbours nor to the wider world. (Paragraph 441)

Information Operations

UK psychological operations capabilities

    122.  Our evidence suggests that if information operations are to be successful, it is essential that they should start in the period when diplomatic efforts are still being made, albeit backed by the coercive threat of military force through overt preparations. This would allow for the full potential of information operations to be exerted in advance of the start of hostilities and might even contribute to their avoidance. (Paragraph 455)


    123.  We believe that the British information operations campaign did not begin early enough. We are concerned that the lessons of the Kosovo campaign were not better learned in this important area. It is disappointing that the coalition is widely perceived to have 'come second' in perception management. However, we recognise that 'coming second' may be inevitable if a conflict of choice is being pursued by liberal democracies with a free media. We are, however, persuaded that information operations are an activity which can be expected to become of increasing importance in future operations. There were a number of successes which provide evidence of the potential effectiveness of information operations. We recommend that the Government should consider significantly enhancing our capabilities in this area. (Paragraph 465)

Role of the Media

    124.  We believe that the importance of the media campaign in the modern world remains under-appreciated by sections of the Armed Forces. The early establishment of a robust media operations capability in theatre must be a priority for any operation. Where an operation is perceived to be a 'war of choice' the ability to handle multiple media organisations in theatre with professionalism and sophistication is essential. (Paragraph 477)

    125.  We strongly believe that the live broadcast of the death of service personnel would be utterly unacceptable. We recommend that MoD begin discussions as a matter of urgency with media organisations to find a solution to this very real possibility in a future conflict. (Paragraph 480)

    126.  Overall the embedding of journalists with combat units worked well. The experience is likely to be seen as a precedent for future operations. Problems arose, however, firstly with the shortage, particularly early on, of properly trained and experienced media officers in some units and secondly because of the inflexibility of the deployment arrangements of the journalists. We recommend that MoD take steps to avoid these problems arising in future operations. (Paragraph 486)

    127.  Whatever the intentions, it is clear that the arrangements to provide a broader context for individual reports from embedded journalists did not work in Operation Telic. In part this was a consequence of advances in technology and of the growth in 24 hour news channels, both of which can be expected to apply at least as forcibly in any future conflict. MoD needs to consider how better to support the context setting of battlefield information in the future. (Paragraph 495)

    128.  MoD did not fully appreciate how the embedding system, coupled with rolling 24 hour news programmes, would undermine their ability to manage the information coming out of the combat theatre. Nor were they successful in managing the expectations of the different journalists in different centres such as the Forward Transmission Unit and Qatar. We believe that failure to support the media presence swiftly enough with enough adequately trained and skilled media relations personnel was a serious shortcoming and one that MoD should not allow to happen again. It is also the case that this campaign went the coalition's way most of the time—in the circumstances of a more difficult military campaign it is not clear how the Ministry of Defence would cope with the pressures of unfavourable coverage from the front line. (Paragraph 499)

Cause and Effect

    129.  We welcome the fact that on this occasion the decision to commit forces followed resolutions of both Houses of Parliament, and believe that it should be seen as an explicit precedent for future combat operations. (Paragraph 504)

    130.  The crafting of the targeting set to minimise civilian casualties was not only a choice made by the coalition in order to achieve a particular effect, or deliver a particular message; it was also a requirement of international law. (Paragraph 514)

    131.  The priority for military planning must be the achievement of military objectives. We are concerned that too great a focus on effects-based planning, and on the part military action can play as one component in a spectrum of political and diplomatic activity, may further complicate the tasks of military planners and commanders who are already operating in an ever more complex battle space and under more intense and intrusive scrutiny than ever before. (Paragraph 517)

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