Live Blog – 3 December 2009

Wednesday 3 December 2009

(There was one evidence session today, scheduled for 09:00 – 12:00.)

Topic: Military Planning

Kevin Tebbit, Permanent Secretary (Ministry of Defence), 1998-2005

Admiral Lord Michael Boyce, Chief of the Defence Staff, 2001-2003

This morning’s hearing, as it happened

This morning’s witnesses were Sir Kevin Tebbit KCB CBE and Admiral Lord Michael Boyce GCB, speaking on the issue of ‘Military Planning′.

(It’s Andrew blogging for you today. Being as I’m not the fastest typist in the world I’m going to refer to everone by initials, so the committee wil be JC, LF, MG, RL, and B(aroness)P, and the witnesses KT and MB. I’ll re-edit everything later tonight for a more permanent record.)

12.05 JC – winds up – briefs for tomorrow and thanks witnesses.

12.04 BP – about winning plan – KT – mentions disarmament etc, overall plan objectives.

12.01 KT – we (Hoon) pressed our case to the US and emphasised our concerns. We thought we made progress with them and the UN, but the bombing of the UN office in Baghdad was a serious blow.

11.58 KT – no-one expect the breakdown towards violence in Iraq. A UN framework needed for the exit strategy. LF – small forces would not be able to cope. MB – absolutely. KT – we expected Iraqi policing etc but this was unattainable.

11.52 LF – how good was aftermath departmental planning? MB – not good – criticises DFID and Clare Short. KT – focus was on poverty rather than funding issues. Planning in US in three phases, conceptual, intellectual; NSC then put in control; then to military (Rumsfeld). Strong feelings in US that not much was to be done.

11.48 KT – re wider plan – expectation of bigger humanitarian concerns but didn’t see problem that transpired with governing body.

11.44 MB – Concern that we didn’t have “the boots on the ground” to conciliate. Going down to Brigade-size deployment was expected to be sufficient to control the Basra area.

11.42 LF – was aftermath planning a great concern? Yes – important to maintain Iraqi army to maintain order, also professional (Ba’athist) classes to allow society to reestablish.

11.38 KT – recalls PM concern about minimising civilian casualties. Predicting Saddam was problematic. LF – late intelligence? – MB – were were prepared to operate in that environment.

11.35 LF – how did you describe risks to Ministers? MB – threat assessments, some risks mitigated by working only in the South of Iraq. Normal processes involved, including casualty assessments. Expectation was that BCW would be employed by Iraq, although this didn’t happened. KT – not higher than ’91 Gulf War ie modest. Expected use as a last resort by Iraq.

11.30 LF – When was the policy set to enforce action? KT – I think Jan 7th but formally Jan 20th. LF – meeting between on 15th ? KT – seems about right.

11.25 RL – Did the benefit of going with US outweigh the disadvantages? KT – proliferation issues were the overriding concern. JC to MB – certificate of authority requested – MB – important for authorise action. LF to KT – same qn – KT – not clear on how this related prior to the second resolution process, but was important.

11.20 RL – second resolution. To MB – did you have concerns? MB – we made it clear we had to have legal authority. He was prepared to stop action without this. Effect on US? That would be pure speculation. RL to KT – what would have happened had we not acted – KT – depended on circumstances. There could be damage to the US relationship. Decision was to go forward but this was right at the end.

11.15 KT – meetings were regular between departments. Seemed to be working pretty well. Concern to get all departments behind overall policy. MB – depts inputted into meetings.
KT – planning had moved on in US and it was important that we kept pace.

11.10 KT – these issues have already been looked at by Parliamentary committees. RL – to MB – did you have full communications with Govt? Yes. Full open consultations. Reservations? Views expressed about problems as they came up. RL – sofa Govt? Not my problem but I achieved full contact where needed.

11.00 KT – Rigorous systems were in place. It was a complex and complicated process but basically all in place in time. Enhanced body armour was an issue – gives numbers. Commanders in theatre were responsible for this. Top down approach, field commander issue to ensure equipment in place. NBC equipment was highlighted but commanders signaled that they were ready. Tracking system problems. It was a massive effort in half the time compared with with ’91.

10.55 RL – to outbreak of action – stretching ourselves close to limits – bit of rush. What were the consequences of this? MB – Oman exercise in 2001 give battle training. 2002 in Qatar was command exercise. Late changes meant US helped greatly in this. Preparedness – confident about Air Force and landing capability. Army was late but ready in March. Equipment was also OK. Fact is some people get killed in wars.

10.29 Sound breaking up – MB – Rumsfeld and Meyers only “got it” about UK participation later on. MG – was there a later time (March) when the US could not go alone. MB – Yes 4th Infantry Division was caught in the North, we were supplying a third of the armour and the air planning was integrated by this time. JC – break time.

10.23 JC – close to break – any other qns? BP – was UK participation taken for granted. KT – State was more supportive – Neo-cons were idealistic and felt authority existed through R.687 and that Iraq would fall easily. Chalabi and co had influence there. They thought 9/11 was worse than Pearl Harbour and the pre-emption policy evolved from this. The British view was we could shape US policy to a degree.

10.18 LF – when did we develop the Southern option? MB – around Dec ’02. KT – Turkey route blocked in Jan ’03.

10.12 LF – asks about Northern option thinking. MB – doubt about Turkey’s participation. It took time to redeploy to the South. KT – concerns about Saddam’s forces moving north re Kurdish issue. Concerns about security of oilfields.

10.08 LF – roles of different services? MB – Chiefs of Staff saw full involvement, land, sea and air. KT – did not see military establishment driving the agenda. Can’t speak about situation in US.

10.04 KT – Thinking was still on ’90/’91 lines. MB – after R.1441 planning could go overt.

10.01 LF – asks about political signals. KT – lack of clarity about plans – Chiefs of Staffs unsure about “winning concept”. LF – cost factors? KT – No suggestion Treasury was denying funding but defence budget overall was too small.

09.56 RL – did the US need us to go with them? MB and KT – they wanted us to be on board. KT – the military build up may have convinced Saddam to comply with UN. Broader context was not narrow so it was important to show our participation.

09.50 MB – theoretical planning was not allowed to become practical planning. Beyond September the large scale option was on the table. KT – US planning assumptions were moving around but we couldn’t have gone at the end of 2002. The Turkey option was still on the table at this time.

09.45 KT – Rice said US policy was later transformed to go down UN route but this was taken with a pince of salt. A multilateral approach was fundamental to the UK position.

09.42 KT – in July planning was in compartments and the US was difficult to influence. Difference from ’91 was that US Joint Chiefs of Staff were less involved – Pentagon (Rumsfeld) took the lead this time. MB – There was a lack of communication within the US between Defense and State – we even contributed to exchange of information as we had access to both.

09.37 KT – speaks of policy vacuum given lack of US rationale. General feeling in London was that a deeper involvement was needed on broader planning issues.

09.33 MB – No discussions with logistic planning due to secrecy concerns. RL – risks? MB – Right way was through UN. It was thought we a larger influence if we went with a larger force.

09.30 RL – difficult situation – Northern option re Turkey was on the table but we weren’t to lead this. MB – This was the favoured option with US 4th Armoured Division (Infantry Division? – will check transcript when available and correct as required) in the lead role.

09.27 RL – refers to Meyer – word to Washington about divisional sized force. MB – US believed we would go despite the need for a UN process. KT – caution on UK side, mentions worry about misleading signals.

09.23 In May we did not know which option the US would choose so planning was very open. MB – beyond June we were more involved at Tampa (CENTCOM). There were “twin tracks”, US and UN.

09.19 MB – Considered brigade to division sized operation. Depended on US shortages. US was keeping planning tight, UK was not part of this. We would not make a big difference. KT – we were not looking for a military option. Long planning process required. Generation difficulties lead to a need for advanced planning.

09.15 KT – MoD say serious need for disarmament but no other recommendations. Defines POLMIL – policy Vs military considerations. MB – Thinking started in may but only a few people involved. Policy directors area and strategic planners.

09.10 RL – asks about MoD contribution to options paper and Crawford. KT – considered question that MoD would not rule out that UK might be asked for participation. There were policy papers but no military planning.

09.07 Mod did not want to get involved in talking about Iraq. Afghanistan was the priority then. Thoughts about “What if” the US asks UK about getting involved in Iraq.

09.02 JC opens and recaps on the purpose of the hearings. RL to KB. Starts at 9/11. Containment creaking. Start of talk – “doing Iraq next”. What point after 9/11 did Mod consider contingency of Iraq action?

Archived Comments

By Alex

Submitted on 2009/12/03 at 10:48am

It’s the US 4th Infantry Division they’re referring to, which was meant to open a northern front but was refused passage by the Turks and therefore missed the invasion.

There is no UK 4th Armoured Division. There is a 4th Armoured Brigade, but it was the 7th, with 16th Air Assault and 3rd Commando, that took part in the invasion.

By andrewsimon

Submitted on 2009/12/03 at 12:11pm

Alex –

Thanks for that. My error – now corrected.

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