Chilcot and the lessons for future conflicts

Letter published in The Times, 7 July 2016. © Richard Kemp

The Chilcot report is wrong to say that the invasion of Iraq in 2003 was unnecessary. Saddam’s regime had to be brought down immediately. He was a long-term supporter of terrorism.

He had links to al-Qaeda that could easily have developed into full blown co-operation. The potential threat posed by a terrorist organisation that had proven its intent to kill our citizens without restraint, supported by a state’s resources — with or without weapons of mass destruction — had to be prevented at all costs. The invasion of Iraq was not just reasonable action by George W Bush and Tony Blair, it was their duty.

I agree with the report, however, about the shortcomings in military equipment and advice and the inadequate planning for post-invasion Iraq. These are linked and resulted in inadequate and ill-equipped British military forces being deployed to contain the situation in southern Iraq and ultimately failing to do so.

This was certainly not a failure of troops on the ground but of their political and military leaders in the UK who still thought they were fighting the last war — Northern Ireland — with the tactics and priorities used against the IRA.

Colonel Richard Kemp
Commander of British forces in Afghanistan in 2003
London SW1