Britain missed chance to stabilize Iraq, as focus sifted to Afghanistan: Gen Dannatt

June 24th, 2009 - 1:17 pm ICT by ANI  

London, June 24 (ANI): The head of the British Army, General Sir Richard Dannatt, has revealed that Britain missed a chance to stabilise Iraq immediately after the 2003 invasion because its focus shifted to the conflict in Afghanistan too quickly.

“In Iraq this meant acting while we had a window of consent to address the security and basic needs of the Iraq people, reconstruction, development and developing the capacity of indigenous security forces,” The Telegraph quoted General Dannatt, as saying.

General Dannatt, Chief of the General Staff, said Britain shifted its resources too quickly to Afghanistan, and dissatisfaction among people led to instability in Iraq.

“Our failure to deliver this through proper investment and a comprehensive approach and our early switch to an economy of force operation in favour of Afghanistan sowed the seeds for the dissatisfaction that followed and the rise of the militias supported so cynically by the Iranians in the south,” he said, addressing the Royal United Services Institute think-tank in London.

As Whitehall is gearing up for the Government’s “lessons learned” inquiry on the Iraq War, General Dannatt said one of the key lessons from the conflict was the need to achieve a “decisive effect” early on.

He said Britain had not kept enough troops on the ground particularly as the focus of operations switched to Afghanistan.

“In truth, we failed to maintain the force levels required, either of coalition forces or Iraqi forces, and particularly towards the later end of the campaign, by which time we were already committed to a new operation in Afghanistan.”

General Dannatt added that mistakes had also been made in the recruitment and training of Iraq security forces who were deployed even before they were ready for operations.

“We must acknowledge that it takes time, expertise and resources to develop impartial, loyal, well-trained, well-equipped and well-led local security forces. We must not repeat the mistakes of 2003 to 2004 when we recruited and deployed hastily security forces of very limited effectiveness and, as it turned out, of questionable loyalty.” (ANI)

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