According to General Lord Dannatt, the UK should hold a Chilcott-style inquiry into Afghanistan.
Gen Lord Dannatt, the former commander of the army, suggested yesterday night that Britain should establish a Chilcott-style inquiry into its military operation in Afghanistan and admit Tony Blair’s strategic mistakes.
Lord Dannatt, who served as Chief of the Widespread Staff from 2006 to 2009, emphasized the decision in 2006 to commit British troops to Helmand Province despite general concerns that forces would remain extensively committed in Iraq.
Last night, he stated that Tony Blair’s government’s strategic miscalculations drove an under-strength military presence to shift its role from humanitarian security building via development to defending territory against overestimated opposition forces.
The choice to back an invasion of Iraq when the UK was already committed to Afghanistan was at the top of the list of miscalculations, according to Blair. Blair’s own 1998 military review had permitted the British Army to engage in just one long-term operation at a time, he added.
Other issues were the dismissal of corrupt Helmand governor Sher Mohammed Akhundzada in 2005, despite intelligence warnings that the Taliban would be a serious foe.
Later, Akhundzada boasted about handing over his personal 3,000-strong force to the Taliban.
Last night, Lord Dannatt said, “I don’t think anyone would disagree with the UK aiding the US in sweeping away the Taliban who were harboring Al Qaeda in 2001, and this was done satisfactorily by mid-2002.”
“However, any optimism that the US would lead an attempt to put in place a regime in Kabul that could effectively manage the country was dashed by its choice to return to Iraq. As we all know now, this was a strategic blunder of biblical proportions.”
Tony Blair proposed to command a Nato campaign in southern Afghanistan in 2006 after committing 10,000 troops to Iraq in 2004.
Lord Dannatt explained, “As planning for the new operation in Afghanistan progressed, it was against the backdrop of a massive deployment in Iraq that was supposed to draw down.”
Lord Dannatt claimed that after the first major military confrontation, the Battle of Nawzad, in which coalition troops suffered few fatalities compared to 680 Taliban dead, hopes that the Taliban would be deterred were quickly crushed.
“They’d put our commitment to the test, and we’d come across as a bit feisty, so the hope was that they’d realize it wasn’t worth the candle and tolerate us. “Brinkwire Summary News” isn’t one of them.