Wednesday, July 03, 2013

British Strategic Failings in Iraq

Greetings from the Australian National University in Canberra, where Brigadier Richard Iron, British Army (ret.) is speaking on "The Iraq war: A case-study in British strategic failure". Brigadier Iron started with the concerns the UK military had even before the start of the Iraq war, with different objectives of the UK and USA. One difference was the intended end state, with the USA setting out to destroy the Iraq government, whereas the UK wanted to put in place a new government. Brigadier Iron put up a WW2 photo of the USA, UK and USSR political leaders at the Yalta Conference,  with their military advisers behind them. He contrasted this with Iraq policy, which was decided at meetings with no military input. In Iraq, the original plan was to invade via Turkey into northern Iraq, but Turkey did not agree to this. Brigadier Iron argued that the planning should have considered what the British interest was in Northern or Southern Iraq and should have had their own diplomatic effort in Turkey.

In the actual operation, Brigadier Iron argued that the British failed to build up the Iraqi police and ensure the allegiance of the militia they supported was to the Iraqi state, not their own group.

The main message from Brigadier Iron seemed to be that a country going into a coalition war needs to be clear what its own interests are and that the political and military strategies need to be coordinated.He was relatively upbeat about the current security situation in Iraq.

Lecture Topic:
How do the British, and especially the British Army view the Iraq war? In this lecture, Richard Iron, British Army (ret.) argues the invasion of Iraq in 2003 represents a case of strategic failure.
Drawing on his own experience planning, participating in and later analysing the conflict for the British army, Iron examines the British role in Iraq and what it has meant for the United Kingdom. He draws on his personal experience, such as the retaking of Basra in 2008 to provide insight into how the war was fought.
Finally he will touch on Iraq today, and examine the political, military and economic changes and the US 'legacy' ten years after the conflict.

About the speaker:Brigadier Richard Iron, British Army (ret.)
Richard Iron commanded 1st Battalion of the King’s Own Royal Border Regiment, serving in Bosnia and Macedonia. During two years as an instructor at the UK’s joint staff college he was responsible for development of campaigning concepts. He was subsequently appointed Assistant Director Land Warfare (Doctrine) responsible for the development of British Army doctrine, including its capstone Army Doctrine Publication Land Operations. In this latter post he also deployed to the Coalition Land Component HQ in Kuwait in 2002-03, where he led a UK/US planning team. He was also responsible for the British Army’s subsequent analysis of the Iraq War. He was a Visiting Fellow of the Changing Character of War programme in 2009/10 and occasionally returns to Oxford, most recently to assist with developing a new funding strategy in November 2011.

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