Executive Summary of the Iraq Inquiry

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Table of Contents

Key findings

Development of UK strategy and options, 9/11 to early January 2002

The following key findings are from Section 3.1:

  • After the attacks on the US on 9/11, Mr Blair declared that the UK would stand "shoulder to shoulder" with the US to defeat and eradicate international terrorism.

  • Mr Blair took an active and leading role throughout the autumn of 2001 in building a coalition to act against that threat, including taking military action against the Taliban regime in Afghanistan.

  • Mr Blair also emphasised the potential risk of terrorists acquiring and using a nuclear, biological or chemical weapon, and the dangers of inaction.

  • In relation to Iraq, Mr Blair sought to influence US policy and prevent precipitate military action by the US, which he considered would undermine the success of the coalition which had been established for action against international terrorism. He recommended identifying an alternative policy which would command widespread international support.

  • In December 2001, Mr Blair suggested a strategy for regime change in Iraq that would build over time, including "if necessary" taking military action without losing international support.

  • The tactics chosen by Mr Blair were to emphasise the threat which Iraq might pose, rather than a more balanced consideration of both Iraq's capabilities and intent; and to offer the UK's support for President Bush in an effort to influence his decisions on how to proceed.

  • That remained Mr Blair's approach in the months that followed.

Development of UK strategy and options, January to April 2002 – "axis of evil" to Crawford

The following key findings are from Section 3.2:

  • The UK continued to pursue implementation of the "smarter" economic sanctions regime in the first months of 2002, but continuing divisions between Permanent Members of the Security Council meant there was no agreement on the way forward.

  • In public statements at the end of February and in the first week of March 2002, Mr Blair and Mr Straw set out the view that Iraq was a threat which had to be dealt with.

  • At Cabinet on 7 March, Mr Blair and Mr Straw emphasised that no decisions had been taken and Cabinet was not being asked to take decisions. Cabinet endorsed the conclusion that Iraq's weapons of mass destruction (WMD) programmes posed a threat to peace and endorsed a strategy of engaging closely with the US Government in order to shape policy and its presentation.

  • At Crawford, Mr Blair offered President Bush a partnership in dealing urgently with the threat posed by Saddam Hussein. He proposed that the UK and US should pursue a strategy based on an ultimatum calling on Iraq to permit the return of weapons inspectors or face the consequences.

  • Following his meeting with President Bush, Mr Blair stated that Saddam Hussein had to be confronted and brought back into compliance with the UN.

  • The acceptance of the possibility that the UK might participate in a military invasion of Iraq was a profound change in UK thinking. Although no decisions had been taken, that became the basis for contingency planning in the months ahead.

Development of UK strategy and options, April to July 2002

The following key findings are from Section 3.3:

  • By July 2002, the UK Government had concluded that President Bush was impatient to move on Iraq and that the US might take military action in circumstances that would be difficult for the UK.

  • Mr Blair's Note to President Bush of 28 July sought to persuade President Bush to use the UN to build a coalition for action by seeking a partnership with the US and setting out a framework for action.

  • Mr Blair told President Bush that the UN was the simplest way to encapsulate a "casus belli" in some defining way, with an ultimatum to Iraq once military forces started to build up in October. That might be backed by a UN resolution.

  • Mr Blair's Note, which had not been discussed or agreed with his colleagues, set the UK on a path leading to diplomatic activity in the UN and the possibility of participation in military action in a way that would make it very difficult for the UK subsequently to withdraw its support for the US.

Development of UK strategy and options, late July to 14 September 2002

The following key findings are from Section 3.4:

  • In discussions with the US over the summer of 2002, Mr Blair and Mr Straw sought to persuade the US Administration to secure multilateral support before taking action on Iraq; and to do so through the UN. They proposed a strategy in which the first objective was to offer Iraq the opportunity and last chance to comply with its obligations to disarm.

  • If Iraq did not take that opportunity and military action was required, the UK was seeking to establish conditions whereby such action would command multilateral support and be taken with the authority of the Security Council.

  • Mr Blair also decided to publish an explanation of why action was needed to deal with Iraq; and to recall Parliament to debate the issue.

  • The UK made a significant contribution to President Bush's decision, announced on 12 September, to take the issue of Iraq back to the UN.

  • Statements made by China, France and Russia after President Bush's speech highlighted the different positions of the five Permanent Members of the Security Council, in particular about the role of the Council in deciding whether military action was justified. As a result, the negotiation of resolution 1441 was complex and difficult.

Development of UK strategy and options, September to November 2002 – the negotiation of resolution 1441

The following key findings are from Section 3.5:

  • The declared objective of the US and UK was to obtain international support within the framework of the UN for a strategy of coercive diplomacy for the disarmament of Iraq. For the UK, regime change was a means to achieve disarmament, not an objective in its own right.

  • The negotiation of resolution 1441 reflected a broad consensus in the UN Security Council on the need to achieve the disarmament of Iraq.

  • To secure consensus in the Security Council despite the different positions of the US and France and Russia, resolution 1441 was a compromise containing drafting 'fixes'.

  • That created deliberate ambiguities on a number of key issues including: the level of non-compliance with resolution 1441 which would constitute a material breach; by whom that determination would be made; and whether there would be a second resolution explicitly authorising the use of force.

Development of UK strategy and options, November 2002 to January 2003

The following key findings are from Section 3.6:

  • Following the adoption of resolution 1441, the UK was pursuing a strategy of coercive diplomacy to secure the disarmament of Iraq. The hope was that this might be achieved by peaceful means, but views differed on how likely that would be.

  • The UK Government remained convinced that Iraq had retained prohibited weapons and was pursuing chemical, biological and ballistic missile programmes in contravention of its obligations to disarm; and that the absence of evidence of weapons and programmes was the result of a successful policy of concealment.

  • By early January 2003, Mr Blair had concluded that Iraq had had "no change of heart" and military action to remove Saddam Hussein's regime was likely to be required to disarm Iraq.

  • The US Administration was planning military action no later than early March.

  • Mr Blair and Mr Straw concluded that a second UN resolution would be essential to secure domestic and international support for military action. In the absence of a "smoking gun", that would require more time and a series of reports from the UN inspectors which established a pattern of Iraqi non-compliance with its obligations.

  • Mr Blair secured President Bush's support for a second resolution but did not secure agreement that the inspections process should continue until the end of March or early April. That left little time for the inspections process to provide the evidence that would be needed to achieve international agreement on the way ahead.

Development of UK strategy and options, 1 February to 7 March 2003

The following key findings are from Section 3.7:

  • By the time the Security Council met on 7 March 2003 there were deep divisions within it on the way ahead on Iraq.

  • Following President Bush's agreement to support a second resolution to help Mr Blair, Mr Blair and Mr Straw continued during February and early March 2003 to develop the position that Saddam Hussein was not co-operating as required by resolution 1441 (2002) and, if that situation continued, a second resolution should be adopted stating that Iraq had failed to take the final opportunity offered by the Security Council.

  • On 6 February, Mr Blair said that the UK would consider military action without a further resolution only if the inspectors reported that they could not do their job and a resolution was vetoed unreasonably. The UK would not take military action without a majority in the Security Council.

  • Mr Blair's proposals, on 19 February, for a side statement defining tough tests for Iraq's co-operation and a deadline of 14 March for a vote by the Security Council, were not agreed by the US.

  • The initial draft of a US, UK and Spanish resolution tabled on 24 February, which simply invited the Security Council to decide that Iraq had failed to take the final opportunity offered by resolution 1441, failed to attract support.

  • Throughout February, the divisions in the Security Council widened.

  • France, Germany and Russia set out their common position on 10 and 24 February. Their joint Memorandum of 24 February called for a programme of continued and reinforced inspections with a clear timeline and a military build-up to exert maximum pressure on Iraq to disarm.

  • The reports to the Security Council by the IAEA reported increasing indications of Iraqi co-operation. On 7 March, Dr ElBaradei reported that there was no indication that Iraq had resumed nuclear activities and that it should be able to provide the Security Council with an assessment of Iraq's activities in the near future.

  • Dr Blix reported to the Security Council on 7 March that there had been an acceleration of initiatives from Iraq and, while they did not constitute immediate co-operation, they were welcome. UNMOVIC would be proposing a work programme for the Security Council's approval, based on key tasks for Iraq to address. It would take months to verify sites and items, analyse documents, interview relevant personnel and draw conclusions.

  • A revised draft US, UK and Spanish resolution, tabled after the reports by Dr Blix and Dr ElBaradei on 7 March and proposing a deadline of 17 March for Iraq to demonstrate full co-operation, also failed to attract support.

  • China, France and Russia all stated that they did not favour a resolution authorising the use of force and that the Security Council should maintain its efforts to find a peaceful solution.

  • Sir Jeremy Greenstock advised that a "side statement" with defined benchmarks for Iraqi co-operation could be needed to secure support from Mexico and Chile.

  • Mr Blair told President Bush that he would need a majority of nine votes in the Security Council for Parliamentary approval for UK military action.

Iraq WMD assessments, pre-July 2002

The following key findings are from Section 4.1:

  • The ingrained belief that Saddam Hussein's regime retained chemical and biological warfare capabilities, was determined to preserve and if possible enhance its capabilities, including at some point in the future a nuclear capability, and was pursuing an active policy of deception and concealment, had underpinned the UK Government's policy towards Iraq since the Gulf Conflict ended in 1991.

  • Iraq's chemical, biological and ballistic missile programmes were seen as a threat to international peace and security in the Middle East, but overall, the threat from Iraq was viewed as less serious than that from other key countries of concern – Iran, Libya and North Korea.

  • The Assessments issued by the Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC) reflected the uncertainties within the intelligence community about the detail of Iraq's activities.

  • The statements prepared for, and used by, the UK Government in public from late 2001 onwards conveyed more certainty than the JIC Assessments about Iraq's proscribed activities and the potential threat they posed.

  • The tendency to refer in public statements only to Iraq's "weapons of mass destruction" was likely to have created the impression that Iraq posed a greater threat than the detailed JIC Assessments would have supported.

  • There was nothing in the JIC Assessments issued before July 2002 that would have raised any questions in policy-makers' minds about the core construct of Iraq's capabilities and intent. Indeed, from May 2001 onwards, the perception conveyed was that Iraqi activity could have increased since the departure of the weapons inspectors, funded by Iraq's growing illicit income from circumventing the sanctions regime.

  • In the light of sensitivities about their content and significance, publication of documents on 'Iraq's Weapons of Mass Destruction', 'Weapons Inspections' and 'Abuse of Human Rights' was postponed until the policy on Iraq was clearer.

Iraq WMD assessments, July to September 2002

The following key findings are from Section 4.2:

  • The urgency and certainty with which the Government stated that Iraq was a threat which had to be dealt with fuelled the demand for publication of the dossier and led to Mr Blair's decision to publish it in September, separate from any decision on the way ahead.

  • The dossier was designed to "make the case" and secure Parliamentary and public support for the Government's position that action was urgently required to secure Iraq's disarmament.

  • The JIC accepted ownership of the dossier and agreed its content. There is no evidence that intelligence was improperly included in the dossier or that No.10 improperly influenced the text.

  • The assessed intelligence had not established beyond doubt either that Saddam Hussein had continued to produce chemical and biological weapons or that efforts to develop nuclear weapons continued. The JIC should have made that clear to Mr Blair.

  • In his statement to Parliament on 24 September 2002, Mr Blair presented Iraq's past, current and potential future capabilities as evidence of the severity of the potential threat from Iraq's weapons of mass destruction; and that at some point in the future that threat would become a reality.

  • The dossier's description of Iraq's capabilities and intent became part of the baseline against which the UK Government measured Iraq's future statements and actions and the success of weapons inspections.

  • The widespread perception that the September 2002 dossier overstated the firmness of the evidence has produced a damaging legacy which may make it more difficult to secure support for Government policy, including military action, where the evidence depends on inferential judgements drawn from intelligence.

  • There are lessons which should be implemented in using information from JIC Assessments to underpin policy decisions.

Iraq WMD assessments, October 2002 to March 2003

The following key findings are from Section 4.3:

  • The ingrained belief already described in this Section underpinned the UK Government's position that Iraq was a threat that had to be dealt with and it needed to disarm or be disarmed. That remained the case up to and beyond the decision to invade Iraq in March 2003.

  • The judgements about Iraq's capabilities and intentions relied too heavily on Iraq's past behaviour being a reliable indicator of its current and future actions.

  • There was no consideration of whether, faced with the prospect of a US-led invasion, Saddam Hussein had taken a different position.

  • The JIC made the judgements in the UK Government September dossier part of the test for Iraq.

  • Iraq's statements that it had no weapons or programmes were dismissed as further evidence of a strategy of denial.

  • The extent to which the JIC's judgements depended on inference and interpretation of Iraq's previous attitudes and behaviour was not recognised.

  • At no stage was the hypothesis that Iraq might no longer have chemical, biological or nuclear weapons or programmes identified and examined by either the JIC or the policy community.

  • A formal reassessment of the JIC's judgements should have taken place after Dr Blix's report to the Security Council on 14 February 2003 or, at the very latest, after his report of 7 March.

  • Intelligence and assessments made by the JIC about Iraq's capabilities and intent continued to be used to prepare briefing material to support Government statements in a way which conveyed certainty without acknowledging the limitations of the intelligence.

  • The independence and impartiality of the JIC remains of the utmost importance.

  • SIS had a responsibility to ensure that key recipients of its reporting were informed in a timely way when doubts arose about key sources and when, subsequently, intelligence was withdrawn.

The search for WMD

The following key findings are from Section 4.4:

  • The search for evidence of WMD in Iraq was started during the military campaign by Exploitation Task Force-75 and was carried forward from June 2003 by the Iraq Survey Group (ISG). The UK participated in both.

  • As the insurgency developed, the ISG's operating conditions became increasingly difficult. There was competition for resources between counter-terrorism operations and the search for WMD evidence, and some ISG staff were diverted to the former.

  • Mr Blair took a close interest in the work of the ISG and the presentation of its reports and the wider narrative about WMD. He raised the subject with President Bush.

  • The Government was confident that pre-conflict assessments of Iraq's WMD capabilities would be confirmed once Saddam Hussein's regime had been removed.

  • It quickly became apparent that it was unlikely that significant stockpiles would be found. This led to challenges to the credibility of both the Government and the intelligence community.

  • There were soon demands for an independent judge-led inquiry into the pre-conflict intelligence.

  • The Government was quick to acknowledge the need for a review, rejecting an independent inquiry in favour of reviews initiated by the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee and the Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament.

  • The Government's reluctance to establish an independent public inquiry became untenable in January 2004 when President Bush announced his own decision to set up an independent inquiry in the US.

  • Faced with criticism of the pre-conflict intelligence and the absence of evidence of a current Iraqi WMD capability, Mr Blair sought to defend the decision to take military action by emphasising instead:

  • Saddam Hussein's strategic intent;

  • the regime's breaches of Security Council resolutions; and

  • the positive impact of military action in Iraq on global counter-proliferationefforts.

  • The ISG's principal findings – that Iraq's WMD capability had mostly been destroyed in 1991 but that it had been Saddam Hussein's strategic intent to preserve the capability to reconstitute his WMD – were significant, but did not support statements made by the UK and US Governments before the invasion, which had focused on Iraq's current capabilities and an urgent and growing threat.

  • The explanation for military action put forward by Mr Blair in October 2004 drew on the ISG's findings, but was not the explanation given before the conflict.

Advice on the legal basis for military action, November 2002 to March 2003

The following key findings are from Section 5:

  • On 9 December, formal 'instructions' to provide advice were sent to Lord Goldsmith. They were sent by the FCO on behalf of the FCO and the MOD as well as No.10. The instructions made it clear that Lord Goldsmith should not provide an immediate response.

  • Until 27 February, No.10 could not have been sure that Lord Goldsmith would advise that there was a basis on which military action against Iraq could be taken in the absence of a further decision of the Security Council.

  • Lord Goldsmith's formal advice of 7 March set out alternative interpretations of the legal effect of resolution 1441. While Lord Goldsmith remained "of the opinion that the safest legal course would be to secure a second resolution", he concluded (paragraph 28) that "a reasonable case can be made that resolution 1441 was capable of reviving the authorisation in resolution 678 without a further resolution".

  • Lord Goldsmith wrote that a reasonable case did not mean that if the matter ever came to court, he would be confident that the court would agree with this view. He judged a court might well conclude that OPs 4 and 12 required a further Security Council decision in order to revive the authorisation in resolution 678.

  • At a meeting on 11 March, there was concern that the advice did not offer a clear indication that military action would be lawful. Lord Goldsmith was asked, after the meeting, by Admiral Boyce on behalf of the Armed Forces, and by the Treasury Solicitor, Ms Juliet Wheldon, in respect of the Civil Service, to give a clear-cut answer on whether military action would be lawful rather than unlawful.

  • Lord Goldsmith concluded on 13 March that, on balance, the "better view" was that the conditions for the operation of the revival argument were met in this case, meaning that there was a lawful basis for the use of force without a further resolution beyond resolution 1441.

  • Mr Brummell wrote to Mr Rycroft on 14 March:

"It is an essential part of the legal basis for military action without a further resolution of the Security Council that there is strong evidence that Iraq has failed to comply with and co-operate fully in the implementation of resolution 1441 and has thus failed to take the final opportunity offered by the Security Council in that resolution. The Attorney General understands that it is unequivocally the Prime Minister's view that Iraq has committed further material breaches as specified in [operative] paragraph 4 of resolution 1441, but as this is a judgment for the Prime Minister, the Attorney would be grateful for confirmation that this is the case."

  • Mr Rycroft replied to Mr Brummell on 15 March: "This is to confirm that it is indeed the Prime Minister's unequivocal view that Iraq is in further material breach of its obligations, as in OP4 [operative paragraph 4] of UNSCR 1441, because of 'false statements or omissions in the declarations submitted by Iraq pursuant to this resolution and failure to comply with, and co-operate fully in the interpretation of, this resolution'."

  • Senior Ministers should have considered the question posed in Mr Brummell's letter of 14 March, either in the Defence and Overseas Policy Committee or a "War Cabinet", on the basis of formal advice. Such a Committee should then have reported its conclusions to Cabinet before its Members were asked to endorse the Government's policy.

  • Cabinet was provided with the text of Lord Goldsmith's Written Answer to Baroness Ramsey setting out the legal basis for military action.

  • That document represented a statement of the Government's legal position – it did not explain the legal basis of the conclusion that Iraq had failed to take "the final opportunity" to comply with its disarmament obligations offered by resolution 1441.

  • Cabinet was not provided with written advice which set out, as the advice of 7 March had done, the conflicting arguments regarding the legal effect of resolution 1441 and whether, in particular, it authorised military action without a further resolution of the Security Council.

  • The advice should have been provided to Ministers and senior officials whose responsibilities were directly engaged and should have been made available to Cabinet.

Development of the military options for an invasion of Iraq

The following key findings are from Section 6.1:

  • The size and composition of a UK military contribution to the US-led invasion of Iraq was largely discretionary. The US wanted some UK capabilities (including Special Forces), to use UK bases, and the involvement of the UK military to avoid the perception of unilateral US military action. The primary impetus to maximise the size of the UK contribution and the recommendations on its composition came from the Armed Forces, with the agreement of Mr Hoon.

  • From late February 2002, the UK judged that Saddam Hussein's regime could only be removed by a US-led invasion.

  • In April 2002, the MOD advised that, if the US mounted a major military operation, the UK should contribute a division comprising three brigades. That was perceived to be commensurate with the UK's capabilities and the demands of the campaign. Anything smaller risked being compared adversely to the UK's contribution to the liberation of Kuwait in 1991.

  • The MOD saw a significant military contribution as a means of influencing US decisions.

  • Mr Blair and Mr Hoon wanted to keep open the option of contributing significant forces for ground operations as long as possible, but between May and mid-October consistently pushed back against US assumptions that the UK would provide a division.

  • Air and maritime forces were offered to the US for planning purposes in September.

  • The MOD advised in October that the UK was at risk of being excluded from US plans unless it offered ground forces, "Package 3", on the same basis as air and maritime forces. That could also significantly reduce the UK's vulnerability to US requests to provide a substantial and costly contribution to post-conflict operations.

  • From August until December 2002, other commitments meant that UK planning for Package 3 was based on providing a divisional headquarters and an armoured brigade for operations in northern Iraq. That was seen as the maximum practicable contribution the UK could generate within the predicted timescales for US action.

  • The deployment was dependent on Turkey's agreement to the transit of UK forces.

  • Mr Blair agreed to offer Package 3 on 31 October 2002.

  • That decision and its potential consequences were not formally considered by a Cabinet Committee or reported to Cabinet.

  • In December 2002, the deployment of 3 Commando Brigade was identified as a way for the UK to make a valuable contribution in the initial stages of a land campaign if transit through Turkey was refused. The operational risks were not explicitly addressed.

  • Following a visit to Turkey on 7 to 8 January 2003, Mr Hoon concluded that there would be no agreement to the deployment of UK ground forces through Turkey.

  • By that time, in any case, the US had asked the UK to deploy for operations in southern Iraq.

Military planning for the invasion, January to March 2003

The following key findings are from Section 6.2:

  • The decisions taken between mid-December 2002 and mid-January 2003 to increase the combat force deployed to three brigades and bring forward the date on which UK forces might participate in combat operations compressed the timescales available for preparation.

  • The decision to deploy a large scale force for potential combat operations was taken without collective Ministerial consideration of the decision and its implications.

  • The large scale force deployed was a one-shot capability. It would have been difficult to sustain the force if combat operations had been delayed until autumn 2003 or longer, and it constrained the capabilities which were available for a UK military contribution to post-conflict operations.

Military equipment (pre-conflict)

The following key findings are from Section 6.3:

  • The decisions taken between mid-December 2002 and mid-January 2003 to increase combat forces and bring forward the date on which UK forces might participate in combat operations compressed the timescales available for preparation.

  • The achievements made in preparing the forces in the time available were very considerable, but the deployment of forces more quickly than anticipated in the Defence Planning Assumptions meant that there were some serious equipment shortfalls when conflict began.

  • Those shortfalls were exacerbated by the lack of an effective asset tracking system, a lesson from previous operations and exercises that the MOD had identified but not adequately addressed.

  • Ministers were not fully aware of the risks inherent in the decisions and the MOD and PJHQ were not fully aware of the situation on the ground during the conflict.

Planning for a post-Saddam Hussein Iraq

The following key findings are from Section 6.4, and relate to evidence in Sections 6.4 and 6.5:

  • Before the invasion of Iraq, Ministers, senior officials and the UK military recognised that post-conflict civilian and military operations were likely to be the strategically decisive phase of the Coalition's engagement in Iraq.

  • UK planning and preparation for the post-conflict phase of operations, which rested on the assumption that the UK would be able quickly to reduce its military presence in Iraq and deploy only a minimal number of civilians, were wholly inadequate.

  • The information available to the Government before the invasion provided a clear indication of the potential scale of the post-conflict task and the significant risks associated with the UK's proposed approach.

  • Foreseeable risks included post-conflict political disintegration and extremist violence in Iraq, the inadequacy of US plans, the UK's inability to exert significant influence on US planning and, in the absence of UN authorisation for the administration and reconstruction of post-conflict Iraq, the reluctance of potential international partners to contribute to the post-conflict effort.

  • The Government, which lacked both clear Ministerial oversight of post-conflict strategy, planning and preparation, and effective co-ordination between government departments, failed to analyse or manage those risks adequately.

  • Mr Blair, who recognised the significance of the post-conflict phase, did not press President Bush for definite assurances about US plans, did not consider or seek advice on whether the absence of a satisfactory plan called for reassessment of the terms of the UK's engagement and did not make agreement on such a plan a condition of UK participation in military action.

The invasion

The following key findings are from Section 8:

  • It took less than a month to achieve the departure of Saddam Hussein and the fall of Baghdad.

  • The decision to advance into Basra was made by military commanders on the ground.

  • The UK was unprepared for the media response to the initial difficulties. It had also underestimated the need for sustained communication of key strategic messages to inform public opinion about the objectives and progress of the military campaign, including in Iraq.

  • For any future military operations, arrangements to agree and disseminate key strategic messages need to be put in place, in both London and on the ground, before operations begin.

  • The UK acceded to the post-invasion US request that it assume leadership of a military Area of Responsibility (AOR) encompassing four provinces in southern Iraq, a position it then held for six years, without a formal Ministerial decision and without carrying out a robust analysis of the strategic implications for the UK or the military's capacity to support the UK's potential obligations in the region.

The post-conflict period

The following key findings are from Section 9.8, and relate to evidence in Sections 9.1 to 9.7:

  • Between 2003 and 2009, the UK's most consistent strategic objective in relation to Iraq was to reduce the level of its deployed forces.

  • The UK struggled from the start to have a decisive effect on the Coalition Provisional Authority's (CPA's) policies, even though it was fully implicated in its decisions as joint Occupying Power.

  • US and UK strategies for Iraq began to diverge almost immediately after the conflict. Although the differences were managed, by early 2007 the UK was finding it difficult to play down the divergence, which was, by that point, striking.

  • The UK missed clear opportunities to reconsider its military approach in Multi-National Division (South-East).

  • Throughout 2004 and 2005, it appears that senior members of the Armed Forces reached the view that little more would be achieved in MND(SE) and that it would make more sense to concentrate military effort on Afghanistan where it might have greater effect.

  • From July 2005 onwards, decisions in relation to resources for Iraq were made under the influence of the demands of the UK effort in Afghanistan. Although Iraq remained the stated UK main effort, the Government no longer had the option of a substantial reinforcement of its forces there.

  • The UK's plans to reduce troop levels depended on the transition of lead responsibility for security to the Iraqi Security Forces, even as the latter's ability to take on that responsibility was in question.

  • The UK spent time and energy on rewriting strategies, which tended to describe a desired end state without setting out how it would be reached.

  • UK forces withdrew from Iraq in 2009 in circumstances which did not meet objectives defined in January 2003.


The following key findings are from Section 10.4, and relate to evidence in Sections 10.1 to 10.3:

  • The UK failed to plan or prepare for the major reconstruction programme required in Iraq.

  • Reconstruction was the third pillar in a succession of UK strategies for Iraq. The Government never resolved how reconstruction would support broader UK objectives.

  • Following the resignation of Ms Clare Short, the International Development Secretary, and the adoption of UN Security Council resolution 1483 in May 2003, DFID assumed leadership of the UK's reconstruction effort in Iraq. DFID would subsequently define, within the framework established by the Government, the scope and nature of that effort.

  • At key points, DFID should have considered strategic questions about the scale, focus and purpose of the UK's reconstruction effort in Iraq.

  • The US-led Coalition Provisional Authority excluded the UK from discussions on oil policy and on disbursements from the Development Fund for Iraq.

  • Many of the failures which affected pre-invasion planning and preparation persisted throughout the post-conflict period. They included poor inter-departmental co-ordination, inadequate civilian military co-operation and a failure to use resources coherently.

  • An unstable and insecure environment made it increasingly difficult to make progress on reconstruction. Although staff and contractors developed innovative ways to deliver projects and manage risks, the constraints were never overcome. Witnesses to the Inquiry identified some successes, in particular in building the capacity of central Iraqi Government institutions and the provincial government in Basra.

  • Lessons learned through successive reviews of the UK approach to post-conflict reconstruction and stabilisation, in Iraq and elsewhere, were not applied in Iraq.


The following key findings are from Section 11.2, and relate to evidence in Section 11.1:

  • Early decisions on the form of de-Ba'athification and its implementation had a significant and lasting negative impact on Iraq.

  • Limiting de-Ba'athification to the top three tiers of the party, rather than extending it to the fourth, would have had the potential to be far less damaging to Iraq's post-invasion recovery and political stability.

  • The UK's ability to influence the CPA decision on the scope of the policy was limited and informal.

  • The UK chose not to act on its well-founded misgivings about handing over the implementation of de-Ba'athification policy to the Governing Council.

Security Sector Reform

The following key findings are from Section 12.2, and relate to evidence in Section 12.1:

  • Between 2003 and 2009, there was no coherent US/UK strategy for Security Sector Reform (SSR).

  • The UK began work on SSR in Iraq without a proper understanding of what it entailed and hugely underestimated the magnitude of the task.

  • The UK was unable to influence the US or engage it in a way that produced an Iraq-wide approach.

  • There was no qualitative way for the UK to measure progress. The focus on the quantity of officers trained for the Iraqi Security Forces, rather than the quality of officers, was simplistic and gave a misleading sense of comfort.

  • After 2006, the UK's determination to withdraw from Iraq meant that aspirations for the Iraqi Security Forces were lowered to what would be "good enough" for Iraq. It was never clear what that meant in practice.

  • The development of the Iraqi Army was considerably more successful than that of the Iraqi Police Service. But the UK was still aware before it withdrew from Iraq that the Iraqi Army had not been sufficiently tested. The UK was not confident that the Iraqi Army could maintain security without support.


The following key findings are from Section 13.2, and relate to evidence in Section 13.1:

  • The direct cost of the conflict in Iraq was at least £9.2bn (the equivalent of £11.83bn in 2016). In total, 89 percent of that was spent on military operations.

  • The Government's decision to take part in military action against Iraq was not affected by consideration of the potential financial cost to the UK of the invasion or the post-conflict period.

  • Ministers were not provided with estimates of military conflict and post-conflict costs, or with advice on their affordability, when decisions were taken on the scale of the UK's military contribution to a US-led invasion of Iraq, and on the UK's role in the post-conflict period. They should have been.

  • There was no articulated need for additional financial resources for military operations in Iraq that was not met.

  • The arrangements for funding military Urgent Operational Requirements and other military costs worked as intended, and did not constrain the UK military's ability to conduct operations in Iraq.

  • The controls imposed by the Treasury on the MOD's budget in September 2003 did not constrain the UK military's ability to conduct operations in Iraq.

  • The Government was slow to recognise that Iraq was an enduring operation, and to adapt its funding arrangements to support both military operations and civilian activities.

  • The arrangements for securing funding for civilian activities could be slow and unpredictable. Some high-priority civilian activities were funded late or only in part.

Military equipment (post-conflict)

The following key findings are from Section 14.2, and relate to evidence in Section 14.1:

  • Between 2003 and 2009, UK forces in Iraq faced gaps in some key capability areas, including protected mobility, Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance (ISTAR) and helicopter support.

  • It was not sufficiently clear which person or department within the MOD had responsibility for identifying and articulating capability gaps.

  • Delays in providing adequate medium weight Protected Patrol Vehicles (PPVs) and the failure to meet the needs of UK forces in MND(SE) for ISTAR and helicopters should not have been tolerated.

  • The MOD was slow in responding to the developing threat in Iraq from Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs). The range of protected mobility options available to commanders in MND(SE) was limited. Although work had begun before 2002 to source an additional PPV, it was only ordered in July 2006 following Ministerial intervention.

  • Funding was not a direct barrier to the identification and deployment of additional solutions to the medium weight PPV gap. But it appears that the longer-term focus of the Executive Committee of the Army Board on the Future Rapid Effect System programme inhibited it from addressing the more immediate issue related to medium weight PPV capability.

  • The decision to deploy troops to Afghanistan had a material impact on the availability of key capabilities for deployment to Iraq, particularly helicopters and ISTAR.

Civilian personnel

The following key findings are from Section 15.2, and relate to evidence in Section 15.1:

  • Before the invasion of Iraq, the Government had made only minimal preparations for the deployment of civilian personnel.

  • There was an enduring gap between the Government's civilian capacity and the level of its ambition in Iraq.

  • There was no overarching consideration by the Government of the extent to which civilians could be effective in a highly insecure environment, or of the security assets needed for civilians to do their jobs effectively.

  • The evidence seen by the Inquiry indicates that the Government recognised its duty of care to UK-based and locally engaged civilians in Iraq. A significant effort was made to keep civilians safe in a dangerous environment.

Service Personnel

The following key findings are from Section 16.4, and relate to evidence in Sections 16.1 to 16.3:

  • In 2002, the UK military was already operating at, and in some cases beyond, the limits of the guidelines agreed in the 1998Strategic Defence Review. Asa result, the Harmony Guidelines were being breached for some units and specialist trades.

  • The Government's decision to contribute a military force to a US-led invasion of Iraq inevitably increased the risk that more Service Personnel would be put in breach of the Harmony Guidelines. The issue of the potential pressure on Service Personnel was not a consideration in the decision.

  • The MOD planned and prepared effectively to provide medical care in support of Operation TELIC.

  • There were major improvements in the provision of medical care, mental healthcare and rehabilitative care available to Service Personnel over the course of Op TELIC.

  • Most of the contacts between the MOD and bereaved families were conducted with sensitivity. In a few cases, they were not. The MOD progressively improved how it engaged with and supported bereaved families, in part driven by consistent public and Ministerial pressure.

  • The Government's decision in 2006 to deploy a second medium scale force to Helmand province in Afghanistan further increased the pressure on Service Personnel, on elements of the MOD's welfare, medical and investigative systems, and the coronial system.

  • Much of the MOD's and the Government's effort from 2006 was focused on addressing those pressures.

  • The MOD should have planned and prepared to address those pressures, rather than react to them.

  • The Government should have acted sooner to address the backlog of inquests into the deaths of Service Personnel. The support it did provide, in June 2006, cleared the backlog.

  • The MOD made a number of improvements to the Board of Inquiry process, but some proposals for more substantive reform (including the introduction of an independent member) were not fully explored. The MOD significantly improved the way it communicated with and supported bereaved families in relation to military investigations and inquests.

  • The MOD was less effective at providing support to Service Personnel who were mobilised individually (a category which included almost all Reservists) and their families, than to formed units.

Civilian casualties

The following key findings are from Section 17:

  • The Inquiry considers that a Government has a responsibility to make every reasonable effort to understand the likely and actual effects of its military actions on civilians.

  • In the months before the invasion, Mr Blair emphasised the need to minimise the number of civilian casualties arising from an invasion of Iraq. The MOD's responses offered reassurance based on the tight targeting procedures governing the air campaign.

  • The MOD made only a broad estimate of direct civilian casualties arising from an attack on Iraq, based on previous operations.

  • With hindsight, greater efforts should have been made in the post-conflict period to determine the number of civilian casualties and the broader effects of military operations on civilians. More time was devoted to the question of which department should have responsibility for the issue of civilian casualties than it was to efforts to determine the actual number.

  • The Government's consideration of the issue of Iraqi civilian casualties was driven by its concern to rebut accusations that Coalition Forces were responsible for the deaths of large numbers of civilians, and to sustain domestic support for operations in Iraq.

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