Former Head of The Army General Sir Richard Dannatt: How Tony Blair and Gordon Brown Betrayed Our Troops

Flashback:

Former SAS Comander: Afghan operation is ‘worthless’:

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

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AFGHANISTAN-OPIUM

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