Iraq — Statement

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 2:50 pm on 18th December 2008.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Earl Attlee Earl Attlee Conservative 2:50 pm, 18th December 2008

My Lords, I remind the House of my interest as I am still a serving TA officer. I was in Iraq in early 2003 on Op Telic 1. I have been involved in peacekeeping operations before, but Iraq was my first and only war—thank God. At the time the legality and the necessity of the operation did not concern me as I was a lawful combatant. Now, though, I, too, think it is time to start a full inquiry into all aspects of the war, and I agree entirely with the comments of the noble Lord, Lord Soley.

The Minister said that the inquiry cannot start until all our troops have left, but does she agree that we will have a number of troops in Iraq for a considerable time, perhaps at least 10 years, engaged purely in training? Does her comment about "all the troops" refer to the perhaps 50 troops on training operations, or does it refer to the withdrawal of all the combat troops?

I welcome the drawdown in Iraq, although of course it is much later than planned or expected. We are doing serious harm to our Armed Forces by operating at double medium scale plus when we are scaled and resourced only for single medium scale operations. We can now concentrate on the more strategically important operation, Operation Herrick in Afghanistan. But does the Minister agree that the Statement does not mean that we can redeploy to Afghanistan all the military capability that is currently in Iraq? Rather, it means that we can concentrate all our efforts, not just the military ones, in Afghanistan. Of course there will be enhancements to our capability in that country, but the main opportunity must be to get our Armed Forces' training back to where it should be. Does she agree that we have been training for "the" war and not for war in general? That, of course, is the hidden cost of exceeding the defence planning assumptions.

The Minister talked about elections. What is the situation regarding justice and the rule of law in Iraq? How far have we come with regard to that pillar of development?