‘The invasion backfired in a spectacular manner,’ says Norfolk former commander of British forces in Iraq
Former brigadier Max Marriner, who was commander of British forces in Iraq from 2009-11 oversaw the final stages of military withdrawal. Mr Marriner, 58, lives in Southrepps near Cromer. Here is what he had to say about the Chilcot report which was released today.
The Chilcot Report is an excoriating review of an absolute abuse of power and shows that the legal basis for the invasion was unsatisfactory. Blair and Bush had made an agreement to go to war and were determined to follow it through come what may.
There was a failure by the US and British governments to set a realistic strategy which speaks very ill of the process by which our servicemen and women were sent to war in 2003.
During the 'honeymoon' period in Basra in 2003 the situation was treated as a Northern Ireland policing operation.
There was a failure to assess the risk. We lost too many soldiers to IEDs because they were driving around in ill-equipped Land Rovers. There was a lack of adequate body armour, we turned that round but it took years to get right.
Parliament needs to ensure there is proper debate on the risks and outcome of military operations. You cannot have Cabinet conducted on a sofa with one charismatic and dominating leader.
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The government needs to ensure it lives by the Armed Forces Covenant so there is a long term commitment to the men and women who served in Iraq and Afghanistan who do not just suffer with physical injuries, but psychological scars.
The legacy of the Iraq War has been 13 years of chaos, our government has lost face in the region the invasion backfired in a spectacular manner.
With such a porous border the crisis in Iraq will not be solved while the war in Syria continues. It is very difficult to find a blueprint to get us out of this messy bit of marsh.
For the soldiers, sailors and airmen who came back with injuries the message from Chilcot should be that the government makes better strategic decisions in the deployment of our armed forces.
I watched the families' press conference immediately after the publication of the report. They concluded it took too long but was extremely thorough and worth the wait and I share their views. It was a dignified considered and admirable response to what Sir John had said.