Executive Summary of the Iraq Inquiry


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Table of Contents



The post-conflict period


Occupation

Looting In Basra

As described in Section 8, UK forces entered Basra City on the night of 6/7 April 2003 and rapidly gained control, meeting less resistance than anticipated. Once the city was under its control, the UK was responsible, as the Occupying Power, for maintenance of law and order. Within its predominantly Shia Area of Operations, the UK assumed that risks to Coalition Forces would be lower than in the so-called "Sunni triangle" controlled by the US.

Before the invasion, the JIC and the DIS had each identified that there was a risk of lawlessness breaking out in Iraq, and that it would be important to deal with it swiftly. Others, including Mr Blair, Sir Kevin Tebbit and the Iraq Policy Unit, had recognised the seriousness of that risk.

However, the formal authorisation for action in Iraq issued by Adm Boyce on 18 March contained no instruction on how to establish a safe and secure environment if lawlessness broke out as anticipated. Although it was known that Phase IV would begin quickly, no Rules of Engagement for that phase, including for dealing with lawlessness, were created and promulgated before UK troops entered the country.

Both before and during the invasion Lt Gen Reith made the absence of instructions to UK forces covering what to do if faced with lawless behaviour by the Iraqi population in Basra explicit to the Chiefs of Staff.

Faced with widespread looting after the invasion, and without instructions, UK commanders had to make their own judgements about what to do. Brigadier Graham Binns, commanding the 7 Armoured Brigade which had taken Basra City, told the Inquiry that he had concluded that "the best way to stop looting was just to get to a point where there was nothing left to loot".229

Notes (hide):

229: Private hearing, 2 June 2010, page 11.

Although the implementation of tactical plans to deal with lawlessness was properly the responsibility of in-theatre commanders, it was the responsibility of the Chief of the Defence Staff and the Chief of Joint Operations to ensure that appropriate Rules of Engagement were set, and preparations made, to equip commanders on the ground to deal with it effectively. They should have ensured that those steps were taken.

The impact of looting was felt primarily by the Iraqi population rather than by Coalition Forces. The latter initially experienced a "honeymoon period",230 although the situation was far from stabilised.

Notes (hide):

230: Public hearing Walker, 1 February 2010, page 16.

Lt Gen Reith anticipated that UK forces could be reduced to a medium scale effort by the autumn, when he expected the campaign to have reached "some form of 'steady-state'".231

Notes (hide):

231: Minute Reith to SECCOS, 14 April 2003, 'Phase 4: Roulement/Recovery of UK Forces' attaching Paper CJO, 14 April 2003, 'Phase 4 - Roulement/Recovery of UK Land Forces'.

The JIC correctly judged on 16 April that the local population had high hopes that the Coalition would rapidly improve their lives and that "resentment of the Coalition ... could grow quickly if it is seen to be ineffective, either politically or militarily. Such resentment could lead to violence."232

By the end of April, Mr Hoon had announced that UK troop levels would fall to between 25,000 and 30,000 by the middle of May, from an initial peak of around 46,000.

Consequently, by the start of May there was a clearly articulated expectation of a rapid drawdown of UK forces by the autumn despite the identified risk that the consent of the local population was built on potentially vulnerable foundations, which could be undermined rapidly and with serious consequences.

Looting In Baghdad

In the absence of a functioning Iraqi police force and criminal justice system, and without a clear Coalition Phase IV plan, looting and score-settling became a serious problem in Baghdad soon after the regime fell. The looting of ministry buildings and damage to state-owned infrastructure in particular added to the challenges of the Occupation.

Reflecting in June 2004, Mr David Richmond, the Prime Minister's Special Representative on Iraq from March to June 2004, judged that the failure to crack down on looting in Baghdad in April 2003 released "a crime wave which the Coalition has never been able to bring fully under control".233

After visiting Iraq in early May 2003, General Sir Mike Jackson, Chief of the General Staff, observed:

"A security vacuum still exists [in Baghdad] ... particularly at night. Looting, revenge killing and subversive activities are rife … Should a bloody and protracted insurgency establish itself in Baghdad, then a ripple effect is likely to occur."234

Gen Jackson recognised that the UK's ability to maintain the consent of the population in the South depended on a stable and secure Baghdad, and advised:

"The bottom line is that if we choose not to influence Baghdad we must be confident of the US ability to improve [its tactics] before tolerance is lost and insurgency sets in."

Gen Jackson, Major General David Richards (Assistant Chief of the General Staff) and Lieutenant General Sir Anthony Pigott (Deputy Chief of the Defence Staff (Commitments)) all offered advice in favour of deploying the UK's 16 Air Assault Brigade to Baghdad to support Coalition efforts to retrain Iraqi police officers and get them back on patrol.

However, the Chiefs of Staff collectively considered that the benefits of making a contribution to the security of Baghdad were outweighed by the risk that UK troops would be "tied down" outside the UK's Area of Responsibility, with adverse impact, and advised on 21 May against deploying 16 Air Assault Brigade. The Chiefs of Staff did not conclude that the tasks it was proposed that 16 Air Assault Brigade should undertake were unnecessary, but rather that US troops would complete them.

UK Influence On Post-Invasion Strategy: Resolution 1483

On 21 March 2003, the day after the start of the invasion, Mr Powell and Sir David Manning, two of Mr Blair's closest advisers, offered him advice on how to influence the post-invasion US agenda. Key among their concerns was the need for post-conflict administrative arrangements to have the legitimacy conferred by UN endorsement. Such UK plans for the post-conflict period as had been developed relied on the deployment of an international reconstruction effort to Iraq. Controversy surrounding the launch of the invasion made that challenging to deliver; the absence of UN endorsement would make it close to impossible.

Discussion between the US and UK on the content of a new UN Security Council resolution began the same day. Resolution 1483 (2003) was eventually adopted on 22 May.

US and UK objectives for the resolution were different, and in several substantive respects the text of resolution 1483 differed from the UK's preferred position.

The UK wanted oil revenues to be controlled by an Iraqi body, or failing that by the UN or World Bank, in line with the pre-invasion promise to use them exclusively for the benefit of Iraq. Instead, resolution 1483 placed the power to spend the Development Fund for Iraq into the hands of the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), overseen by a monitoring board. That was in line with US objectives, but did not address UK concerns.

The UK considered that an Interim Iraqi Administration should have real powers, and not be subordinate to the CPA. Resolution 1483 said that the CPA would retain its responsibilities until an internationally recognised representative government was established. The text did not go so far as to require an interim administration to report formally to the CPA, as the US wished, but that was in effect how the relationship between the CPA and the Governing Council established by resolution 1483 operated.

The UK's policy position was that the UN should take the lead in establishing the Interim Iraqi Administration. Resolution 1483 gave the UN a role working with the people of Iraq and the CPA, but did not give it the lead. Evidence considered by the Inquiry suggests that there was consistent reluctance on the part of the UN to take on such a role and the UK position was therefore not wholly realistic.

Resolution 1483 formally designated the UK and US as joint Occupying Powers in Iraq. It also set the conditions for the CPA's dominance over post-invasion strategy and policy by handing it control of funding for reconstruction and influence on political development at least equal to that of the UN.

UK Influence On The Coalition Provisional Authority

By the time resolution 1483 was adopted, the CPA was already operating in Iraq under the leadership of Ambassador L Paul Bremer, reporting to Mr Donald Rumsfeld, the US Defense Secretary. There was no reporting line from the CPA to the UK.

The resolution's designation of the US and UK as joint Occupying Powers did not reflect the reality of the Occupation. The UK contribution to the CPA's effort was much smaller than that of the US and was particularly concerned with Basra.

The UK took an early decision to concentrate its effort in one geographical area rather than accept a national lead for a particular element of the Coalition effort (such as police reform). However, it was inevitable that Iraq's future would be determined in Baghdad, as both the administrative centre and the place where the power shift from minority Sunni rule to majority Shia rule was going to be most keenly felt. Having decided to concentrate its effort on an area some distance removed from the capital, the UK's ability to influence policy under debate in Baghdad was curtailed.

In Baghdad itself, the UK provided only a small proportion of the staff for the military and civilian headquarters. The low numbers were influenced in part by reasonable concerns about the personal legal liabilities of UK staff working initially in ORHA and then in the CPA, and what their deployment might imply about the UK's responsibility for decisions made by those organisations, in the absence of formal consultation or the right of veto.

The pre-invasion focus on a leading UN role in Iraq meant that little thought had been given to the status of UK personnel during an occupation which followed an invasion without Security Council authorisation. Better planning, including proper assessment of a variety of different possible scenarios, would have allowed such issues to be worked through at a much earlier stage.

There was an urgent need for suitably experienced UK officials ready to deploy to Baghdad, but they had not been identified (see Section 15).

No governance arrangements were designed before the invasion which might have enabled officials and Ministers based in London and Washington to manage the implications of a joint occupation involving separate resources of a very different scale. Such arrangements would have provided a means to identify and resolve different perspectives on policy, and to facilitate joint decisions.

Once the CPA had been established, policy decisions were made largely in Baghdad, where there was also no formal US/UK governance structure. This created a risk described to the Inquiry by Sir Michael Wood, FCO Legal Adviser from 2001 to 2006, as "the UK being held jointly responsible for acts or omissions of the CPA, without a right to consult and a right of joint decision".235

Notes (hide):

235: Statement, 15 March 2011, page 22.

To manage that risk, the UK proposed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the US to establish procedures for working together on issues related to the Occupation, but it could not be agreed. Having supplied the overwhelming majority of the CPA's resources, the US had little incentive to give the UK an influential role in deciding how those resources were to be used, and the UK lacked the will and leverage to insist.

In the absence of formal arrangements, there was a clear risk that the UK would be inadequately involved in important decisions, and the UK struggled from the start to have a significant effect on the CPA's policies. This was a source of concern to both Ministers and officials in 2003, but the issue was never resolved.

Senior individuals deployed to Iraq by the UK at this time saw themselves either as working for the CPA in support of its objectives and as part of its chain of command, or as UK representatives within the CPA with a remit to seek to influence CPA decisions. No-one formally represented the UK position within the CPA decision-making process, a serious weakness which should have been addressed at an early stage.

Managing a joint occupation of such size and complexity effectively and coherently required regular formal and informal discussion and clear decision-making at all levels, both between capitals and in-country. Once attempts to agree an MOU had failed, the chances of constructing such mechanisms were slim.

In the absence of an MOU with the US, the UK's influence in Baghdad depended heavily on the personal impact of successive Special Representatives and British Ambassadors to Iraq and the relationships they were able to build with senior US figures.

Some instances of important CPA decisions in which the UK played little or no formal part were:

  • The decision to issue CPA Order No.2, which "dissolved" (or disbanded) a number of military and other security entities that had operated as part of Saddam Hussein's regime, including the armed forces (see Section 12). This was raised informally by Ambassador Bremer in his first meeting with Mr John Sawers, Mr Blair's Special Representative on Iraq, who – unbriefed – did not at that point take a contrary position. The concept of creating a new army had also been raised by Mr Walt Slocombe, CPA Senior Adviser on National Security and Defense, in discussion with Mr Hoon. Dissolution was a key decision which was to have a significant effect on the alienation of the Sunni community and the development of an insurgency in Iraq, and the terms and timing of this important Order should have been approved by both Washington and London.

  • Decisions on how to spend the Development Fund for Iraq, which resolution 1483 gave the CPA the power to make. CPA Regulation No.2 subsequently vested Ambassador Bremer with control of the Fund, effectively placing it under US control. This exacerbated concerns about the under-resourcing of CPA(South) as expressed in Mr Straw's letter to Mr Blair of 5 June 2003 (see Section 10.1).

  • The creation of the Iraqi Central Bank as an independent body in July 2003 (see Sections 9.2 and 10.1). This came as a surprise to the UK despite the close involvement of officials from the Treasury in arrangements for Iraq's new currency and budget.

  • The creation of a new Iraqi Central Criminal Court (see Section 9.2), the announcement of which UK officials could not delay for long enough to enable the Attorney General to give his view on its legality under the terms of resolution 1483.

  • Production of the CPA's 'Vision for Iraq' and 'Achieving the Vision' (see Sections 9.2 and 10.1).Mr Sawers alerted the FCO to the first document on6 July when it was already at an advanced stage of drafting, and by 18 July it had been signed off by the Pentagon. No formal UK approval was sought for a document which was intended to provide strategic direction to the Coalition's non-military effort in Iraq.

UK involvement in CPA decisions about the scope and implementation of de-Ba'athification policy is considered in Section 11.2.

In some areas, the UK was able to affect CPA policy through the influence that Mr Sawers or his successor Sir Jeremy Greenstock exerted on senior US officials. Both used their diplomatic experience to build connections with Iraqi politicians and contribute to the political development of Iraq. Instances of UK influence included:

  • Mr Sawers' involvement in the plans for an Interim Iraqi Administration, in respect of which he considered that "much of the thinking is ours".236

  • Sir Jeremy Greenstock's "two chickens, two eggs" plan, which overcame political stalemate between the CPA and Grand Ayatollah al-Sistani on how the new Iraqi Constitution should be created. The plan led to the 15 November Agreement which set the timetable for transfer of sovereignty to a transitional administration by 30 June 2004.

  • Ensuring that negotiations on the content of the Transitional Administrative Law reached a successful conclusion. Sir Jeremy Greenstock told the Inquiry that he had prevented the Kurdish delegation from leaving, "which Bremer wasn't aware of".237

  • The level of female representation in Iraq's new political structures, including the 25 percent "goal" for members of the National Assembly set by the Transitional Administrative Law, which the UK pursued with some success.

Notes (hide):

236: Telegram 028 IraqRep to FCO London, 1 June 2003, 'Iraq: Political Process'.

237: Private hearing, 26 May 2010, page 64.

In the absence of decision-making arrangements in which the UK had a formal role, too much reliance was placed on communication between Mr Blair and President Bush, one of the very small number of ways of influencing US policy. Some issues were addressed by this route: for instance, using his regular conversations with President Bush, Mr Blair was able, with some success, to urge caution in relation to the US operation in Fallujah in April 2004.

But the channel of communication between Prime Minister and President should be reserved for the most strategic and most intractable issues. It is not the right mechanism for day-to-day policy-making or an effective way of making tactical decisions.

It is impossible to say whether a greater and more formal UK input to CPA decisions would have led to better outcomes. But it is clear that the UK's ability to influence decisions made by the CPA was not commensurate with its responsibilities as joint Occupying Power.

A Decline In Security

From early June 2003, and throughout the summer, there were signs that security in both Baghdad and the South was deteriorating. The MOD's SPG warned that "more organised opposition to the Coalition may be emerging"238 as discontent about the Coalition's failure to deliver a secure environment began to grow in the Iraqi population.

The extent of the decline in Baghdad and central Iraq overshadowed the decline in Multi-National Division (South-East) (MND(SE)). Food shortages and the failure of essential services such as the supply of electricity and water, plus lack of progress in the political process, however, began to erode the relationship between UK forces and the local population. The deterioration was exemplified by attacks on UK forces in Majar al-Kabir in Maysan province on 22 and 24 June.

As the summer wore on, authoritative sources in the UK, such as the JIC, began to identify issues with the potential to escalate into conflict and to recognise the likelihood that extremist groups would become more co-ordinated. The constraint imposed on reconstruction activities by the lack of security began to be apparent. Mr Sawers and Sir David Manning expressed concern about whether the UK had sufficient troops deployed in MND(SE), and about the permeability of Maysan's substantial border with Iran.

From early July, security was seen in Whitehall as the key concern and was raised by Mr Blair with President Bush.

A circular analysis began to develop, in which progress on reconstruction required security to be improved, and improved security required the consent generated by reconstruction activity. Lieutenant General Robert Fry, Deputy Chief of the Defence Staff (Commitments), reported "a decline in Iraqi consent to the Coalition in MND(SE) due to the failure by the Coalition to deliver improvements in essential services" and that Shia leaders were warning of a short grace period before further significant deterioration.

By the autumn of 2003, violence was escalating in Baghdad and attacks were becoming more sophisticated. Attacks on the UN in August and September, which injured and killed a number of UN officials including the UN Special Representative for Iraq, prompted some organisations to withdraw their international staff. Although Basra was less turbulent than the capital, the risk of a ripple effect from Baghdad – as identified by Gen Jackson in May – remained.

The JIC assessed on 3 September that the security environment would probably worsen over the year ahead. There had been a number of serious attacks on the Coalition in MND(SE), and Islamic "extremists/terrorists"239 were expected to remain a long-term threat in Iraq. The UK's military and civilian representatives on the ground were reporting a growing insurgency in central Iraq.

Despite that evidence, military planning under the leadership of General Sir Michael Walker, Chief of the Defence Staff, proceeded on the basis that the situation in Basra would remain relatively benign.

The Inquiry considers that a deterioration in security could and should have been identified by Lt Gen Reith by the end of August 2003 and that the cumulative evidence of a deteriorating security situation should have led him to conclude that the underlying assumptions on which the UK's Iraq campaign was based was over-optimistic, and to instigate a review of the scale of the UK's military effort in Iraq.

There were a number of issues that might have been examined by such a review, including:

  • whether the UK had sufficient resources in MND(SE) to deal with a worsening security situation; and

  • whether the UK should engage outside MND(SE) in the interests of Iraq's overall stability (as had been advocated by Gen Jackson, Maj Gen Richards and Lt Gen Pigott).

No such review took place.

There was a strong case for reinforcing MND(SE) so that it could handle its high-priority tasks (providing essential security for reconstruction projects, protecting existing infrastructure, guarding key sites and improving border security to inhibit the import of arms from Iran) effectively in changing circumstances. Those tasks all demanded a higher level of manpower than was available. Although additional military personnel were deployed in September 2003, mainly to fill existing gaps in support for reconstruction activities, their numbers were far too small to have a significant impact.

The failure to consider the option of reinforcement at this time was a serious omission and Lt Gen Reith and Gen Walker should have ensured that UK force levels in MND(SE) were formally reconsidered in autumn 2003 or at the latest by the end of the year. Increases in UK force levels in order to address the security situation should have been recommended to Ministers. Any opportunity to regain the initiative and pre-empt further deterioration in the security situation was lost.

In October, Sir Jeremy Greenstock reported that Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez, Commander Combined Joint Task Force-7, had "come to recognise that Coalition operations are at a standstill and that there is a need to regain momentum".240 Doubts started to build about the chances of credible elections based on a legitimate constitution in the course of 2004 and work began to look for alternatives to the plan set out by Ambassador Bremer. The "bloodiest 48-hour period in Baghdad since March",241 including an attack on the al-Rashid Hotel in Baghdad's Green Zone, was sufficient to convince some that a pivotal point in the security situation had been reached.

Notes (hide):

240: Telegram 230 IraqRep to FCO London, 24 October 2003, 'Iraq: Security Update'.

241: Telegram 1426 Washington to FCO London, 28 October 2003, 'Iraq: US Views 28 October'.

When President Bush visited London in November, Mr Blair provided him with a paper written by Sir Jeremy Greenstock which argued that security should be the highest priority in the run-up to June 2004, when the Iraqi Transitional Government would take power. Sir Jeremy suggested that troop levels should be looked at again and highlighted "the dangers we face if we do not get a grip on the security situation" as a topic that President Bush and Mr Blair needed to discuss in stark terms.

The constraints within which the UK was operating as a result of the limited scale of forces deployed in Iraq were articulated clearly for the Chiefs of Staff in December. Lt Gen Fry argued that a strategy of "early effect"242 was needed which prioritised campaign success. Operation TELIC was the UK "Main Effort", but deploying additional resources in a way that was compliant with the Defence Planning Assumptions would require the withdrawal of resources from other operations.

Notes (hide):

242: Minute DCDS(C) to COSSEC, 5 December 2003, 'Op TELIC – Review of UK Military Strategy for Iraq'.

On 1 January 2004, Sir Jeremy Greenstock wrote bluntly: "This theatre remains a security crisis."243

Despite mounting evidence of violent insurgency, the UK's policy of military drawdown in Iraq continued. After force levels had been reviewed in January, the rationale for continued drawdown was based on adjusted criteria by which the success of Security Sector Reform would be judged, meaning that such reform would be implemented "only to applicable standards for Iraq".244

Notes (hide):

244: Minute Reith to PSO/CDS, 29 January 2004, 'Op TELIC Force Level Review – Jan 04'.

The Turning Point

February 2004 was the worst month for Coalition casualties since the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime. More than 200 people, mainly Iraqi citizens, were killed in suicide attacks. Attacks on the Iraqi Security Forces were increasing and concerns about Islamic extremists operating in Iraq began to grow. By the end of March, more than 200 attacks targeting Iraqi citizens were being reported each week.

In April, there was a sudden escalation in attacks by the Jaysh al-Mahdi (JAM) in Basra, described by the General Officer Commanding MND(SE) as "like a switch had been flicked".245 In Fallujah, a US offensive which followed the ambush and murder of four security contractors provoked an angry response from the Sunni community.

Notes (hide):

245: Public hearing Lamb, 9 December 2009, pages 67-68.

The significant worsening of security, coupled with revelations of abuse by members of the US military of Iraqi detainees held in Abu Ghraib prison, led many of the Inquiry's witnesses to conclude that the spring of 2004 had been a turning point.

At the end of April, Mr Blair's analysis was that the key issue in Iraq was not multi-faceted, rather it was "simple: security".246

Despite the failing security situation in MND(SE) in spring 2004, Gen Walker was explicit that no additional troops were required for the tasks currently assigned to the UK.

The Chiefs of Staff maintained the view they had originally reached in November 2003, that HQ Allied Rapid Reaction Corps (ARRC) should not be actively considered for deployment to Iraq, even though:

  • Iraq was a higher priority for the UK than Afghanistan;

  • security in Iraq was clearly worsening and had been identified by Mr Blair as the key issue; and

  • there had been a specific US request for deployment of HQ ARRC.

Transition

UK Influence On US Strategy Post-CPA

In June 2004, the US and UK ceased to be Occupying Powers in Iraq and the CPA was disbanded. Responsibility for day-to-day interaction on civil affairs with the Iraqi Interim Government on civil affairs passed to the newly appointed British and US Ambassadors.

After the handover, the UK's priorities were to maintain the momentum of the political process towards elections in January 2005, and to ensure that the conditions for the drawdown of its forces were achieved.

Mr Blair and President Bush continued to discuss Iraq on a regular basis. It continued to be the case that relatively small issues were raised to this level. The UK took false comfort that it was involved in US decision-making from the strength of that relationship.

Themes which Mr Blair emphasised to President Bush included the acceleration of Security Sector Reform and the Iraqiisation of security, UN engagement, better outreach to the Sunni community (often referred to as "reconciliation"), provision of direct support to Prime Minister Ayad Allawi and better use of local media to transmit a positive message about the coalition's intentions and actions.

Planning For Withdrawal

By July 2004, the UK envisaged that, providing the necessary criteria were met, there would be a gradual reduction in troop numbers during 2005 leading to final withdrawal in 2006, to be followed by a period of "Strategic Overwatch".

The most important of the criteria that would enable coalition troops to withdraw was the ability of the Iraqi Security Forces to take the lead on security (Iraqiisation). Having recognised that a stable and secure environment was the key factor on which progress in Iraq depended, by May 2004 the UK solution was "a better and quicker plan for building Iraqi capacity in the Police, Civil Defence Corps, the Army and the Intelligence Service".247 This made sense in the long term but was unlikely to meet the requirement to regain control of Iraq rapidly in the face of a mounting insurgency. Reform of the Iraqi Security Forces is addressed in detail in Section 12.

By mid-August, the level of attacks against coalition forces had matched the previous peak in April of the same year. In September, Lieutenant General John McColl (Senior British Military Representative – Iraq) judged that the Iraqi Security Forces would not be able to take full responsibility for security before 2006.

In September 2004, Gen Walker received a well-argued piece of advice from Lt Gen McColl which made clear that the conditions on which decisions on drawdown were to be based were unlikely to be met in the near future. Despite the warnings in Lt Gen McColl's paper and his advice that "the time is right for the consideration of the substantive issues",248 the Chiefs of Staff, chaired by Gen Walker, declined to engage in a substantive review of UK options.

Notes (hide):

248: Minute McColl to CDS and CJO, 26 September 2004, 'Report 130 of 26 Sep 04'.

The Inquiry recognises that the scale of the resources which the UK might have deployed to deal with the issues was substantially less than the US could bring to bear. It is possible that the UK may not have been able to make a real difference, when the key strategic change that might have affected the outcome was the deployment of a much larger force. But proper consideration ought to have been given to what options were available, including for the deployment of additional personnel. Mr Straw raised the need for such a debate with Mr Blair in October.

The UK had consistently resisted US requests to deploy additional personnel, which Lt Gen McColl described as having "chipped away at the US/UK relationship",249 but in October it was agreed that the Black Watch would be deployed to North Babil for 30 days to backfill US forces needed for operations in Fallujah. Approximately 350 personnel from 1st Battalion, the Royal Highland Fusiliers were also deployed to Iraq to provide additional security across MND(SE) during the election period in January and February 2005. The UK remained reluctant to commit any further forces in the longer term: when Dutch forces withdrew from Muthanna province, the UK instead redeployed forces from elsewhere in MND(SE) plus a small amount of additional logistic support.

In January 2005, Lt Gen Fry produced a thoughtful and realistic assessment of the prospects for security in Iraq, observing that "we are not on track to deliver the Steady State Criteria (SSC) before the UN mandate expires, or even shortly thereafter".250 He judged that "only additional military effort by the MNF-I [Multi-National Force – Iraq] as a whole" might be able to get the campaign back on track. Lt Gen Fry identified three possible courses of action for the UK: increasing the UK scale of effort, maintaining the status quo or, if it were judged that the campaign was irretrievable, accepting failure and seeking to mitigate UK liability.

Notes (hide):

250: Minute DCDS(C) to APS 2/SofS [MOD], 11 January 2005, 'Iraq 2005 – a UK MOD perspective'.

The Inquiry endorses Lt Gen Fry's assessment of the options open to the UK at this point and considers that full and proper consideration should have been given to each option by DOP.

In his advice to Mr Blair on 21 January, Gen Walker did not expose the assessment made by Lt Gen Fry that only additional military effort by the MNF-I might be able to get the campaign back on track.

On 30 January, elections for the Transitional National Assembly and Provincial Assemblies took place across Iraq. Security arrangements involved 130,000 personnel from the Iraqi Security Forces, supported by 184,500 troops from the MNF-I. The JIC assessed that perhaps fewer than 10 percent of voters had turned out in the Sunni heartlands and judged that "without Sunni engagement in the political process, it will not be possible significantly to undermine the insurgency".

In April, the JIC assessed that:

"A significant Sunni insurgency will continue through 2005 and beyond, but the opportunities for reducing it appear greater than we judged in early February."251

The Impact Of Afghanistan

In June 2004, the UK had made a public commitment to deploy HQ ARRC to Afghanistan in 2006, based on a recommendation from the Chiefs of Staff and Mr Hoon, and with Mr Straw's support. HQ ARRC was a NATO asset for which the UK was the lead nation and provided 60 percent of its staff.

It appears that senior members of the Armed Forces reached the view, throughout 2004 and 2005, 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.

In February 2005, the UK announced that it would switch its existing military effort in Afghanistan from the north to Helmand province in the south.

In 2002, A New Chapter, an MOD review of the 1998 Strategic Defence Review (SDR), had reaffirmed that the UK's Armed Forces would be unable to support two enduring medium scale military operations at the same time:

"Since the SDR we have assumed that we should plan to be able to undertake either a single major operation (of a similar scale and duration to our contribution to the Gulf War in 1990-91), or undertake a more extended overseas deployment on a lesser scale (as in the mid-1990s in Bosnia), while retaining the ability to mount a second substantial deployment ... if this were made necessary by a second crisis. We would not, however, expect both deployments to involve war-fighting or to maintain them simultaneously for longer than six months."252

Notes (hide):

252: Ministry of Defence, Strategic Defence Review: A New Chapter, July 2002, page 14.

As described in Section 16.1, since 2002 the Armed Forces had been consistently operating at or above the level of concurrency defined in the 1998 SDR, and the continuation of Op TELIC had placed additional strain on military personnel.

By May 2005, the UK had been supporting an operation of at least medium scale in Iraq for more than two years. The Ministerial Committee on Defence and Overseas Policy Sub-Committee on Iraq (DOP(I)) recognised that future force levels in Iraq would need to be considered in the context of the requirement to achieve "strategic balance" with commitments in Afghanistan, to ensure that both were properly resourced.

In July 2005, DOP agreed proposals for both the transfer of the four provinces in MND(SE) to Iraqi control and for the deployment of the UK Provincial Reconstruction Team then based in northern Afghanistan to Helmand province in the South, along with an infantry battlegroup and full helicopter support – around 2,500 personnel.

As described under the heading 'Iraqiisation' below, the proposals to transfer responsibility for security in the four provinces of MND(SE) to Iraqi control were based on high-risk assumptions about the capability of the Iraqi Security Forces to take the lead for security. If those assumptions proved to be inaccurate and the UK was unable to withdraw, agreement to the Helmand deployment in Afghanistan effectively constrained the UK's ability to respond by increasing troop levels in Iraq.

In January 2006, Cabinet approved the decision to deploy to Helmand. Dr Reid, the Defence Secretary, announced that the UK was "preparing for a deployment to southern Afghanistan" which included a Provincial Reconstruction Team as "part of a larger, more than 3,300-strong British force providing the security framework".253

Notes (hide):

253: House of Commons,Official Report,26 January 2006, columns 1529-1533.

The impact of that decision was summarised neatly by Gen Walker as:

"Militarily, the UK force structure is already stretched and, with two concurrent medium scale operations in prospect, will soon become exceptionally so in niche areas."254

Notes (hide):

254: Letter Walker to Richards, 24 January 2006, [untitled].

Niche capabilities such as helicopter support and Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance (ISTAR) were essential to the successful conduct of operations.

From July 2005 onwards, decisions in relation to resources for Iraq were effectively 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, should it have considered one necessary. When the US announced in January 2007 that it would send a surge of resources to Iraq, the UK was consequently unable to contemplate a parallel surge of its own.

The impact of the decision to deploy to Helmand on the availability of key equipment capabilities for Iraq, and on the level of stretch felt by military personnel, is addressed in Sections 14 and 16.

Iraqiisation

After becoming Defence Secretary in May 2005, Dr Reid had continued the policy of reducing UK troop levels based on the transition of lead responsibility for security to the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF). In one of his early acts as Defence Secretary, he announced the deployment of just over 400 additional personnel to enhance the UK's effort in training the ISF, which would "enable them to take on ever greater responsibility for their own security and so pave the way for UK troops to withdraw".255

Notes (hide):

255: House of Commons, Official Report, 25 May 2005, column 15WS.

The proposals for transfer of the four provinces in MND(SE) to Iraqi control agreed in July 2005 suggested transition from MNF-I to ISF primacy in Basra from March 2006, based on the assumption that the ISF would, by that point, be capable of taking on responsibility for security in what was likely to remain a very challenging environment.

There was sufficient reliable contemporary evidence available, including from the JIC and in reports from commanders in theatre, to demonstrate that the assumption that the ISF would be ready to take the lead in Basra by that point was probably unrealistic.

In September 2005, Mr Blair expressed his concerns about ISF capability, following reports of police involvement in attacks on the MNF in Basra. But despite concerns that had been expressed about the capacity of the ISF, Dr Reid recommended that a reduction in UK forces should take place in October or November 2005.

A few days after Dr Reid made his recommendation, the Jameat incident in Basra (see Section 12.1) raised questions about the ISF in MND(SE). Officials from the FCO, the MOD and DFID judged that the incident had highlighted the risks to achieving UK objectives in MND(SE), and that those risks had implications for military resources. Nevertheless, assumptions about ISF readiness were not re-examined by Ministers. The incident should have prompted a more searching analysis of whether the conditions necessary for drawdown were likely to be met within the planned timetable. Reluctance to consider the potential implications of the Jameat incident obscured what it had revealed about the security situation in MND(SE).

The critical importance of ISF capability in assessing readiness for transfer to Provincial Iraqi Control, on which UK plans to draw down were based, was emphasised by the 'Conditions for Provincial Transfer' published by the Joint Iraqi/MNF Committee to Transfer Security Responsibility, and by Dr Reid, who told DOP(I) that "successful Iraqiisation remains the key".256 DOP(I) decided that Dr Reid should have lead responsibility for building the capacity of the Iraqi Police Service (IPS) in Basra in addition to his responsibility for the Iraqi Army.

In October 2005, Mr Blair asked for a major and sustained push to make progress on the ability of the ISF to take the lead on security. Gen Jackson raised concerns about ISF effectiveness in a minute to Gen Walker, and concluded: "it is not to our credit that we have known about the inadequacies of the IPS for so long and yet failed to address them".257 The Assessments Staff reinforced the lack of progress in reforming the ISF.

Notes (hide):

257: Minute CGS to CDS, 18 October 2005, 'CGS visit to Iraq: 10-13 Oct 05'.

In October 2005, the Chiefs of Staff made a stark assessment of the insurgency and coalition strategy in Iraq. They concluded that "Ministers needed to be clear that the campaign could potentially be heading for 'strategic failure', with grave national and international consequences if the appropriate actions were not taken".258 Gen Walker judged that only 5 percent of UK military effort in MND(SE) was devoted to counter-insurgency operations. But neither Air Marshal Sir Glenn Torpy, Commander Joint Operations, nor Gen Walker reassessed UK force requirements in Iraq, based on those two assessments.

Notes (hide):

258: Minutes, 18 October 2005, Chiefs of Staff meeting.

The security situation at this point should have resulted in a reassessment of the UK troop levels needed to achieve the UK's key outcomes in MND(SE). Although the responsibility for tactical decision-making rested with commanders on the ground, it was for Gen Walker to ensure that those commanders had sufficient resources to deliver.

The absence of additional resources placed further pressure on the UK's ability to deliver the conditions required for transfer. At the end of 2005 and in early 2006 there were further indications that the ISF were not ready to operate alone. The MOD reported to the final DOP(I) meeting of 2005 that the capacity of the Iraqi administration and security forces to assume responsibility, acknowledging the challenge of increasing sectarianism and militia infiltration, was one of the key challenges remaining.

In March 2006, the JIC again highlighted doubts about the ability of the Iraqi Army to operate without MNF support and concerns about the corruption and infiltration of the IPS.

US concerns about UK plans for the transition of Maysan and Muthanna to Iraqi control in May were such that Dr Reid adapted them to include a small residual team providing mentoring and support to the Iraqi Army.

Dr Reid continued to press ahead with drawdown and announced that troop levels would reduce in May 2006 from approximately 8,000 to around 7,200 based on "completion of various security sector reform tasks, a reduction in the support levels for those tasks, and recent efficiency measures in theatre".259 That rationale did not include an assessment of the effect of those tasks on the capability of the ISF.

Notes (hide):

259: Letter Reid to Blair, 9 March 2006, 'Iraq: Force Level Review and Announcement'.

Preparation for withdrawal

A Major Divergence In Strategy

US and UK strategies for Iraq had in effect been on different courses since the UK decision to focus its attention on MND(SE) in 2003. As a result of that decision, the UK had acquired distinctly different priorities from the US. It was only marginally involved in the central tasks of stabilising the Iraqi Government in Baghdad and managing sectarian divisions, while it had come to see its main task in Basra as one of keeping the situation calm while building the case for drawdown.

For some time, there had been indications of tension between the US and UK regarding assessments of progress, and differing assumptions about whether plans were needed for long-term bases in Iraq. In May 2006, Mr Blair was told about "rumblings from the US system about UK failure to grip the security situation in what they regard as a strategically vital part of Iraq".260 Gen Jackson felt compelled to report that:

Notes (hide):

260: Minute Phillipson to Prime Minister, 2 May 2006, 'VTC with President Bush, 1615 2 May 2006'.

"The perception, right or wrong, in some – if not all – US military circles is that the UK is motivated more by the short-term political gain of early withdrawal than by the long-term importance of mission accomplishment; and that, as a result, MND(SE)'s operational posture is too laissez faire and lacks initiative ..."261

Notes (hide):

261: Minute CGS to CDS, 22 May 2006, 'CGS visit to Iraq: 15-18 May 06'.

In January 2007, the divergence between US and UK strategies was thrown into sharp relief by President Bush's announcement that the US would adopt a new strategy, of which a prominent feature would be the deployment of a surge of US forces, primarily to Baghdad and its environs. UK assessments of the prospects for the new US policy were bleak, reflecting widespread pessimism about the prospects for Iraq. UK strategy continued to look towards withdrawal.

US concerns about the differences in approach were evident. In February 2007, Sir David Manning, British Ambassador to the US, reported that Secretary Rice had asked him "to tell her honestly whether the UK was now making for the exit as fast as possible".262

Notes (hide):

262: Letter Manning to Hayes, 1 February 2007, 'Conversation with the US Secretary of State, 31 January 2007'.

The divergence in strategies was also illustrated by the conditions-based process through which the four provinces in MND(SE) were transferred to Provincial Iraqi Control (PIC) during 2007. Although each transfer was signed off by senior members of the US military, there was persistent reporting of US concerns about readiness for PIC, whether the conditions had actually been met and the wider impact of transfer.

The US was also uncomfortable about arrangements made by the UK with a militia group in Basra which allowed the safe exit of UK troops from their main base in the city.

A Possible Civil War

By March 2006, senior members of the UK military were considering the possibility of civil war in Iraq, prompted by rising levels of sectarian violence and concerns that the Iraqi Government was "not ... perceived as even-handed in security issues".263 The risk of civil war had been acknowledged by Prime Minister Ibrahim Ja'afari in the wake of the bombing of the al-Askari mosque in February. Although there was general agreement that the situation in Iraq did not constitute civil war, the risk that one might develop was considered to be real.

Notes (hide):

263: Minute Houghton to CDS, 5 March 2006, 'SBMR-I Weekly Report (201) 5 March 06'.

At this time, the presence in Iraq of the MNF was authorised by resolution 1637 (2005). The exchange of letters between Prime Minister Ja'afari and the President of the Security Council which accompanied the resolution clearly identified providing security for the Iraqi people as the reason why a continued MNF presence was necessary.

In late April, FCO officials were concerned that security in Basra was declining and that a determined and sustained effort, including a more assertive military posture, would be required to deliver the UK's objective of transferring Basra to Iraqi control by late 2006 or early 2007.

Accounts from mid-2006 suggested that security in MND(SE) was a significant concern, characterised by "steady, if generally unspectacular, decline"264 and increased militia activity. The UK military's approach had generated US concern and the security situation was limiting UK civilian activity.

Notes (hide):

264: Minute senior government official specialising in the Middle East to Dowse, 12 May 2006, 'Situation in Basrah'.

Gen Jackson's assessment in May of the short-term security prospects in Iraq was bleak. He judged that "what we will leave behind will not look much like strategic success. Ten years hence our strategy may fully bear fruit."265

Notes (hide):

265: Minute CGS to CDS, 22 May 2006, 'CGS visit to Iraq: 15-18 May 06'.

After visiting Iraq in early May, Air Chief Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup, Chief of the Defence Staff, advised Dr Reid that there should be no change to the operational approach and that there were "compelling reasons" why the UK should "press on" with handing over security to Iraq, including to permit the UK's continuing build-up in Afghanistan.266 ACM Stirrup identified the risk that UK withdrawal from Basra would be seen as a "strategic failure" and suggested that "astute conditioning of the UK public may be necessary" to avoid that.

Notes (hide):

266: Minute Stirrup to SofS [MOD], 8 May 2006, 'CDS Visit to Iraq and Afghanistan – 5-7 May 06'.

ACM Stirrup's view that the UK should press ahead with drawdown despite the security challenges in Basra was not consistent with Government policy that withdrawal should be conditions-based.

ACM Stirrup's acceptance that the "law of diminishing returns" was "now firmly in play" and that there was "an increasing risk" that UK forces would "become part of the problem, rather than the solution" had some validity: it was clear from accounts of the situation in Basra that UK forces were not preventing a steady decline in security. ACM Stirrup was also right to advise Dr Reid that the MNF in Iraq faced a "multifaceted", sophisticated and dangerous enemy; that serious issues remained in Basra (militia activity, poor governance, insecurity); and that it was possible the UK would be accused of strategic failure.

The established policy was that UK forces would withdraw as the capabilities of the ISF increased until responsibility could be handed over to the Iraqi Government. ACM Stirrup's proposed remedy of continued drawdown and managing public opinion did not mitigate the risk of strategic failure he described.

In the summer of 2006, in recognition of the need to stabilise Basra and prepare it for transition to Iraqi control, the UK developed the Basra Security Plan, "a plan to improve Basra through operations, high impact reconstruction and SSR [Security Sector Reform] ... lasting for up to six months".267 The military element of the plan became known as Operation SALAMANCA and included operations against militia groups.

Notes (hide):

267: Minute Burke-Davies to APS/Secretary of State [MOD], 24 August 2006, 'Iraq: Op SALAMANCA'.

In August 2006, ACM Stirrup was asked to give direction on both seeking US help for Op SALAMANCA and the possibility of deploying UK forces to support US operations outside MND(SE).

While ACM Stirrup stressed the importance of senior Iraqi political support if Op SALAMANCA was to be a success, Lieutenant General Nicholas Houghton, the Senior British Military Representative – Iraq, indicated a concern that even with US support the capabilities available in MND(SE) might not be sufficient successfully to deliver Op SALAMANCA.

ACM Stirrup directed that it was acceptable for the UK to make use of US enablers, such as aviation, in MND(SE), but that, in general, commitments in MND(SE) were to be met by existing MND(SE) personnel (including contractors) and any shortfalls were to be identified and considered appropriately.

ACM Stirrup also directed that the deployment of UK troops to Multi-National Division (Centre South):

"... crossed a clear policy 'red line' and seemed counter-intuitive, given that consideration was also being given to obtaining US forces for MND(SE). The UK needed to draw down its force levels as soon as practicable, both in MND(SE) and elsewhere."268

Notes (hide):

268: Minutes, 2 August 2006, Chiefs of Staff meeting.

The decision not to allow the use of US support in Basra was an important one. The Inquiry considers that the question of what was needed to make Op SALAMANCA a success should have been addressed directly by ACM Stirrup, whose response instead precluded proper consideration of whether additional UK resources would be required.

There was continuing resistance to any suggestion that UK forces should operate outside MND(SE) and there may have been concern that US participation in Op SALAMANCA would have led to an obligation on the UK to engage more outside MND(SE). This might not, as ACM Stirrup observed, be consistent with a commitment to drawdown, but might have reduced the risk of strategic failure.

The nature of Op SALAMANCA was constrained by the Iraqi Government in September 2006, so that the eventual operation (renamed Operation SINBAD) left "Basra in the hands of the militant militia and death squads, with the ISF unable to impose, let alone maintain, the rule of law".269 This contributed to the conditions which led the UK into negotiations with JAM in early 2007.

Notes (hide):

269: Minute Shirreff, 21 September 2006, 'GOC MND(SE) – Southern Iraq Update – 21 September 2006'.

Attempts were subsequently made to present Op SINBAD as equivalent to the 2007 US surge. Although there was some resemblance between the "Clear, Hold, Build" tactics to be used by US surge forces and the UK's tactics for Op SINBAD, the UK operation did not deploy sufficient additional resources to conduct "Hold" and "Build" phases with anything like the same strategic effect. The additional 360 troops deployed by the UK could not have had the same effect as the more than 20,000 troops surged into Baghdad and its environs by the US.

At the end of 2006, tensions between the military and civilian teams in MND(SE) became explicit. In a report to Mr Blair, Major General Richard Shirreff, General Officer Commanding MND(SE), diagnosed that the existing arrangement, in which the Provincial Reconstruction Team was located in Kuwait, "lacks unity of command and unity of purpose"270 and proposed the establishment of a "Joint Inter-Agency Task Force" in Basra led by the General Officer Commanding MND(SE).

ACM Stirrup's advice to Mr Blair was that it was "too late" to implement Maj Gen Shirreff's proposal. That may have been the right conclusion, but the effect was to deter consideration of a real problem and of ways in which military and civilian operations in MND(SE) could be better aligned.

The adequacy of UK force levels in Iraq and the effectiveness of the UK's efforts in MND(SE) were explicitly questioned in Maj Gen Shirreff's end of tour report.

Force Level Review

The balance of forces between Iraq and Afghanistan was reviewed by DOP in February 2007 on the basis that the UK could only sustain the enduring operational deployment of eight battlegroups.

ACM Stirrup's "strong advice",271 with which DOP agreed, was that the UK should provide two additional battlegroups to the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, reducing the Iraq to Afghanistan battlegroup ratio from 6:2 to 5:3 and then 4:4.

This advice did not include an assessment of either the actual state of security in Basra or the impact on the UK's ability to deliver its objectives (including that drawdown should be conditions-based) and responsibilities under resolution 1723 (2006). The advice did identify US "nervousness" about the UK proposals.

In early May, Sir Nigel Sheinwald, Mr Blair's Foreign Policy Adviser, sought ACM Stirrup's advice on the future of the UK military presence in Iraq. ACM Stirrup advised that the UK should press ahead with drawdown from Iraq on the basis that there was little more the UK could achieve. There was "no militarily useful mission".272

Mr Blair was concerned about the implications of ACM Stirrup's position unless the political circumstances in Basra changed first. He commented: "it will be very hard to present as anything other than a total withdrawal ... it cd be very dangerous for the stability of Iraq, & the US will, rightly, be v. concerned."273

After visiting Basra again in mid-May, ACM Stirrup continued to recommend the drawdown of UK forces. But other contemporary evidence indicated a more negative picture of circumstances in Basra than ACM Stirrup's view that:

"... the Iraqis are increasingly in a position to take on responsibility for their own problems and therefore they might wish to look to propose the south of the country as a model through which we can recommend a drawdown of forces."274

Notes (hide):

274: Minute Poffley to PSSC/SofS [MOD], 17 May 2007, 'CDS visit to Iraq 13-16 May 07'.

In July 2007, FCO and MOD officials recognised that leaving Basra Palace would mean moving to PIC in fact if not in name. Mr Brown, who had become Prime Minister in June, was keen that the gap between leaving the Palace and transfer to PIC should be as small as possible, since UK situational awareness and ability to conduct operations in Basra would be limited once the Palace was no longer in use.

During a visit to Iraq at the start of July, ACM Stirrup sought to convince senior US officers that Basra was ready for transfer to PIC on the basis that it would not be possible to demonstrate readiness until after the transfer had taken place. General David Petraeus, Commanding General MNF-I, and Ambassador Ryan Crocker, US Ambassador to Iraq, remained "circumspect" on the timing of PIC.275 They considered that there remained "significant problems" associated with "unstable politics" and "JAM infiltration" in Basra.

As they reached the end of their respective tours of duty, both Major General Jonathan Shaw, General Officer Commanding MND(SE) from January to August 2007, and Lieutenant General William Rollo, Senior British Military Representative – Iraq from July 2007 to March 2008, identified the impact of limited resources on the UK's military effort and questioned the drive for continued drawdown in Iraq in order to prioritise resources for Helmand. Maj Gen Shaw wrote: "We have been hamstrung for resources throughout the tour, driven by the rising strategic significance of the Afghan deployment."276

Notes (hide):

276: Letter Shaw to Houghton, 14 August 2007, 'Post operation report Shawforce Jan-Aug 07'.

During a visit to Iraq in October 2007, ACM Stirrup was briefed by Major General Graham Binns, General Office Commanding MND(SE) from August 2007 to February 2008, that the ISF might have only limited ability to cope in the event that JAM resumed combat operations. The JIC and others also identified continued weaknesses in the ISF. Their "ability and willingness to maintain security in the South remains patchy and dependent on MNF training, logistic and specialist air support".277

The Beginning Of The End

On 27 February 2008, the JIC assessed security prospects in the South at the request of the Permanent Joint Headquarters (PJHQ): security in Basra remained a concern.

In March 2008, Prime Minister Maliki instigated the Charge of the Knights to tackle militia groups in Basra. That such an important operation came as a surprise was an indication of the distance between the UK and Iraqi Governments at this point.

When the Charge of the Knights began, the UK found itself to be both compromised in the eyes of the Iraqi Government and unable to offer significant operational support, as a result of the tactical decision to negotiate with JAM1 and the absence of situational awareness in Basra after withdrawing from the Basra Palace site.

On 1 April, ACM Stirrup briefed the Overseas and Defence Sub-Committee of the National Security, International Relations and Development Committee (NSID(OD)) that the UK military task would be complete by the end of 2008; its timetable would not be affected by the Charge of the Knights.

ACM Stirrup's conclusion that there was no need to review UK drawdown plans was premature in the light of both the level of uncertainty generated by the Charge of the Knights and continued questions about the ability of the ISF to take the security lead in Basra.


Next Section: Did the UK achieve its objectives in Iraq?

Table of Contents


Notes:

229: Private hearing, 2 June 2010, page 11.

230: Public hearing Walker, 1 February 2010, page 16.

231: Minute Reith to SECCOS, 14 April 2003, 'Phase 4: Roulement/Recovery of UK Forces' attaching Paper CJO, 14 April 2003, 'Phase 4 - Roulement/Recovery of UK Land Forces'.

232: JIC Assessment, 16 April 2003, 'Iraq: The Initial Landscape Post-Saddam'.

233: Telegram 359 IraqRep to FCO London, 28 June 2004, 'Iraq: Valedictory: The End of Occupation'.

234: Minute CGS to CDS, 13 May 2003, 'CGS Visit to Op. TELIC 7-10 May 2003'.

235: Statement, 15 March 2011, page 22.

236: Telegram 028 IraqRep to FCO London, 1 June 2003, 'Iraq: Political Process'.

237: Private hearing, 26 May 2010, page 64.

238: Minute SECCOS to PSO/CDS, 10 June 2003, 'OP COS Paper: UK Contribution to Iraq: Strategic Intent and Direction' attaching Paper SPG, 9 June 2003, 'UK contribution to Iraq: strategic intent and direction'.

239: JIC Assessment, 3 September 2003, 'Iraq: Threats to Security'.

240: Telegram 230 IraqRep to FCO London, 24 October 2003, 'Iraq: Security Update'.

241: Telegram 1426 Washington to FCO London, 28 October 2003, 'Iraq: US Views 28 October'.

242: Minute DCDS(C) to COSSEC, 5 December 2003, 'Op TELIC – Review of UK Military Strategy for Iraq'.

243: Telegram 337 IraqRep to FCO London, 1 January 2004, 'Iraq: Six Final Months of Occupation'.

244: Minute Reith to PSO/CDS, 29 January 2004, 'Op TELIC Force Level Review – Jan 04'.

245: Public hearing Lamb, 9 December 2009, pages 67-68.

246: Letter Rycroft to Owen, 26 April 2004, 'Iraq: 15 Reports for the Prime Minister'.

247: Letter Bowen to Baker, 13 May 2004, 'Iraq: Security'.

248: Minute McColl to CDS and CJO, 26 September 2004, 'Report 130 of 26 Sep 04'.

249: Report McColl to CDS and CJO, 20 October 2004, 'SBMR-I Hauldown Report – Lt Gen McColl'.

250: Minute DCDS(C) to APS 2/SofS [MOD], 11 January 2005, 'Iraq 2005 – a UK MOD perspective'.

251: JIC Assessment, 6 April 2005, 'Iraq: The State of the Insurgency'.

252: Ministry of Defence, Strategic Defence Review: A New Chapter, July 2002, page 14.

253: House of Commons,Official Report,26 January 2006, columns 1529-1533.

254: Letter Walker to Richards, 24 January 2006, [untitled].

255: House of Commons, Official Report, 25 May 2005, column 15WS.

256: Paper Reid, 11 October 2005, 'Iraq: Security Update'.

257: Minute CGS to CDS, 18 October 2005, 'CGS visit to Iraq: 10-13 Oct 05'.

258: Minutes, 18 October 2005, Chiefs of Staff meeting.

259: Letter Reid to Blair, 9 March 2006, 'Iraq: Force Level Review and Announcement'.

260: Minute Phillipson to Prime Minister, 2 May 2006, 'VTC with President Bush, 1615 2 May 2006'.

261: Minute CGS to CDS, 22 May 2006, 'CGS visit to Iraq: 15-18 May 06'.

262: Letter Manning to Hayes, 1 February 2007, 'Conversation with the US Secretary of State, 31 January 2007'.

263: Minute Houghton to CDS, 5 March 2006, 'SBMR-I Weekly Report (201) 5 March 06'.

264: Minute senior government official specialising in the Middle East to Dowse, 12 May 2006, 'Situation in Basrah'.

265: Minute CGS to CDS, 22 May 2006, 'CGS visit to Iraq: 15-18 May 06'.

266: Minute Stirrup to SofS [MOD], 8 May 2006, 'CDS Visit to Iraq and Afghanistan – 5-7 May 06'.

267: Minute Burke-Davies to APS/Secretary of State [MOD], 24 August 2006, 'Iraq: Op SALAMANCA'.

268: Minutes, 2 August 2006, Chiefs of Staff meeting.

269: Minute Shirreff, 21 September 2006, 'GOC MND(SE) – Southern Iraq Update – 21 September 2006'.

270: Letter Shirreff to Blair, 29 December 2006, [untitled].

271: Paper MOD officials, 13 February 2007, 'Iraq and Afghanistan: Balancing Military Effort in 2007'.

272: Minute Sheinwald to Prime Minister, 3 May 2007, 'Iraq'.

273: Manuscript comment Blair on Minute Sheinwald to Prime Minister, 3 May 2007, 'Iraq'.

274: Minute Poffley to PSSC/SofS [MOD], 17 May 2007, 'CDS visit to Iraq 13-16 May 07'.

275: Minute Kyd to PS/SofS [MOD], 5 July 2007, 'CDS visit to Iraq 1-3 Jul 07'.

276: Letter Shaw to Houghton, 14 August 2007, 'Post operation report Shawforce Jan-Aug 07'.

277: JIC Assessment, 27 February 2008, 'Iraq: Security Prospects in the South'.