Thursday, 3 December 2009

The Longest Pause

The 'circle of silence' took other victims than accepted governance practice and propriety: it severely hampered the execution of the strategic, options-available planning that had been properly carried out at the Ministry of Defence. That politically-driven imperative, that Parliament and the public should be kept unaware of commitments to war, under the guise of preserving the integrity of attempts to gain more effective containment and inspection of Saddam's regime rather than war, left the soldiers (at every war stage - prewar, action itself, and properly administrating the victory) without time and without resources.

Lawrence Freedman - having listened to the reasons for prohibition on engaging the defence logistics organisation to obtain equipment, requisitioning of transport, funding for all aspects of the war from the Chief of Defence Staff during the Iraq war, Admiral Lord Boyce - asked The Question:

What other reasons prevented execution of the strategic planning?

The silence went on, and on. It was damning. At last the permanent secretary at the Ministry of Defence, in finely wrought mandarin-speak, said that at no stage did the Treasury deny funding for this operation [empasis added, ed.] The Defence budget was too small.

Well, it would be wouldn't it? It wasn't set for waging an aggressive war despite such an act having been New Labour policy from long before the last Defence budget had been set.

There was failure to authorise the purchase of 'long lead items', heroic efforts were needed to move from strategic to executive planning: for 'silence' reasons; from unwillingness to tell the military which strategic option of the three prepared New Labour wanted; and, unforgiveably, from over all lack of Defence funding.

What were the military supposed to do? Go to war on a just-in-time basis?


Carter said...

"What were the military supposed to do? Go to war on a just-in-time basis?"

Yes HG .... that is exectly what they were expected to do. It continues, and good men are dying because of it.

Scrobs... said...

It was a flawed political decision from the start, and I'm not at all convinced that after Brown is kicked into touch next year, that Cameron will improve the situation either.

hatfield girl said...

I can't really understand why the UK has had tens of thousands of troops fighting for the last decade in aggressive wars, Scrobs.

All the explanations - punching above our weight (repellent phrase); supporting our formal allied commitments; humanitarian intervention; sucking up to America; giving reason for a standing army now the Cold War is over (it's not as if Brown has been funding for a keeping the forces fighting fit, is it?) - are really not good enough.

It's still not fashionable to have the 'far away countries' mindset, but these ARE far away countries that present no threat to the UK, unlike the European theatre in mid last century.

Surely all these people are not dying and their lives and countries destroyed on behalf of some half-baked theory followed by a minority political interest in constructing some kind of global security forces ideology? A sort of military force counterpart to global financial regulation, and global planned economic intervention in the name of climate change.

That's a shade of Orwell too far.

What are we fighting for?