And, addressing the use of Snatch Land Rovers, which he deemed to be unsafe and prompted his decision to stand down, he said: “I had to resign.
“I had warned (the MoD) time and time again that there were going to be needless deaths if we were not given the right equipment, and they ignored this advice. There is blood on their hands.
“There was no other vehicle to use. The simple truth is that the protection on these vehicles is inadequate and this led to the unnecessary deaths.”
The former head of the Army accuses Tony Blair and Gordon Brown of badly letting down the Armed Forces during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
In a damning verdict, General Sir Richard Dannatt accuses Mr Brown of being a “malign” influence by failing to honour guarantees on defence spending during his time at the Treasury, and charges Mr Blair with lacking “moral courage” for failing to overrule his chancellor.
Gen Dannatt’s book, Leading from the Front, which begins its serialisation in The Sunday Telegraph today, is the first major public critique of the Blair/Brown administration by a senior outside figure who served under both men. He was Chief of the General Staff from 2006-09.
He describes his efforts to persuade Mr Blair and Mr Brown that the Army – fighting in both Iraq and Afghanistan and suffering heavy casualties – was facing almost unbearable pressures as “pushing a rock up a steep hill almost all the way through”.
His book is further evidence of the cripplingly dysfunctional nature of the relationship between Mr Blair and Mr Brown, which Mr Blair spelt out in his own memoir, A Journey, published this week.
The general also reveals in his book and in interviews for this newspaper that:
-By early 2009, at a time when the Army was suffering a punishing casualty rate in Afghanistan, he had not had a face-to-face meeting with Mr Brown for six months. Eventually he was forced to “ambush” the prime minister during a chance meeting in Horse Guards Parade to get his concerns across;
-The 1997-98 Strategic Defence Review (SDR), which set out a “good framework” for future defence policy, could not cope with troops being committed to Iraq and Afghanistan at the same time and was “fatally flawed” through being underfunded;
-The intelligence about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq under Saddam Hussein, cited as the main reason for Britain joining the United States in the 2003 war, was “most uncompelling”. Planning for the aftermath of the conflict was, he said, an “abject failure”.
Gen Dannatt reserves his strongest criticism for Labour’s two prime ministers, accusing them of letting down the troops they sent to Iraq and Afghanistan.
He writes in his book: “History will pass judgment on these foreign adventures in due course, but in my view Gordon Brown’s malign intervention, when chancellor, on the SDR by refusing to fund what his own government had agreed, fatally flawed the en tire process from the outset.
“The seeds were sown for some of the impossible operational pressures to come.”
Mr Blair “lacked the moral courage to impose his will on his own chancellor”.
The general also admits he was “bemused” by Mr Brown’s decision to write his book, Wartime Courage, about the generation that suffered so much in winning the Second World War. He adds: “I am still not sure whether he ever realised that by denying the proper funding of his own government’s declared policy, he was condemning more young men and women to the same sacrifices he railed against in a previous generation.”
Asked why he thought Mr Blair did not overrule Mr Brown, he replied: “To me it seems extraordinary that the prime minister, the No 1 guy, cannot crack the whip sufficiently to his very close friend apparently, his next door neighbour, the chancellor.
“In the war Cabinet that Margaret Thatcher put together in 1982 [during the Falklands conflict] there was no one from the Treasury. It’s tough to criticise lack of moral courage, but moral courage is what you need. Physical courage is a wonderful thing, but moral courage is actually doing the right thing at the right time.”
Gen Dannatt warns the Coalition that carrying on with the current rate of casualties in Afghanistan – where more than 100 servicemen were killed last year – would be unacceptable. “We’ve got to have cracked it by 2014, 2015,” he said.
By Patrick Hennessy and Melissa Kite
Published: 10:00PM BST 04 Sep 2010
Source: The Telegraph
More on the war on terror:
– US special forces soldiers dug bullets out of their victims’ bodies in the bloody aftermath of a botched night raid, then washed the wounds with alcohol before lying to their superiors about what happened
– Obama: ‘I will promise you this, that if we have not gotten our troops out by the time I am President, it is the first thing I will do. I will get our troops home. We will bring an end to this war. You can take that to the bank.’ (!)
Murray asserts that the primary motivation for US and British military involvement in central Asia has to do with large natural gas deposits in Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. As evidence, he points to the plans to build a natural gas pipeline through Afghanistan that would allow Western oil companies to avoid Russia and Iran when transporting natural gas out of the region.
Murray alleged that in the late 1990s the Uzbek ambassador to the US met with then-Texas Governor George W. Bush to discuss a pipeline for the region, and out of that meeting came agreements that would see Texas-based Enron gain the rights to Uzbekistan’s natural gas deposits, while oil company Unocal worked on developing the Trans-Afghanistan pipeline.
“The consultant who was organizing this for Unocal was a certain Mr. Karzai, who is now president of Afghanistan,” Murray noted.
“There are designs of this pipeline, and if you look at the deployment of US forces in Afghanistan, as against other NATO country forces in Afghanistan, you’ll see that undoubtedly the US forces are positioned to guard the pipeline route. It’s what it’s about. It’s about money, it’s about oil, it’s not about democracy.”
“I have lost understanding of and confidence in the strategic purposes of the United States’ presence in Afghanistan,” he wrote Sept. 10 in a four-page letter to the department’s head of personnel. “I have doubts and reservations about our current strategy and planned future strategy, but my resignation is based not upon how we are pursuing this war, but why and to what end.”
“I’m not much for this war. I’m not sure it’s worth all those lives lost,” said Sergeant Christian Richardson as we walked across corn fields that will soon be ploughed up to plant a spring crop of opium poppy.
Opium production rate has soared to 6,900 tons in Afghanistan in the past 10 years ‘despite‘ the presence of 100,000 foreign troops in the country for nearly eight years.
A report by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime said on Wednesday that Afghanistan produces 92 percent of the world’s opium that has devastating global consequences.
The UN report also noted that Afghanistan’s illegal opium production is worth 65 billion dollars.
The heroin and opium market feeds 15 million addicts, with Europe, Russia and Iran consuming half the supply, UNODC reported.
– Top US commander in Afghanistan: The Taliban have gained the upper hand:
The Taliban have gained the upper hand in Afghanistan, the top American commander there said, forcing the U.S. to change its strategy in the eight-year-old conflict by increasing the number of troops in heavily populated areas like the volatile southern city of Kandahar, the insurgency’s spiritual home. Gen. Stanley McChrystal warned that means U.S. casualties, already running at record levels, will remain high for months to come.
(Source: The Wall Street Journal)