MoD 'gags Iraq criticism report'
A report by a senior army officer criticising the planning for the invasion of Iraq has been suppressed by defence chiefs for being too harsh, according to newspaper reports.
Lieutenant General Chris Brown's report on the lessons to be learned from the circumstances surrounding the invasion of Iraq is apparently so critical of UK planners that Chief of the Defence Staff Air Chief Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup and other officials have intervened to suppress it, banning its release even within the Ministry of Defence.
Lt Gen Brown was the last Senior British Military Representative in Baghdad in 2009, but would not be the first military commander to criticise Britain's handling of the war. Senior military figures giving evidence to the Iraq Inquiry have repeatedly expressed frustration at the secrecy, delays and failures experienced in the run up to the invasion and the lack of planning for its aftermath.
Major General Sir Richard Shirreff, commander of British forces in southern Iraq in late 2006, said the failure to provide enough equipment and UAVs for British troops 'beggared belief'.
Lieutenant General Frederick Viggers, the senior British Army commander in Iraq told the inquiry that post-war operations in Iraq suffered from a "lack of a sense of direction from the outset" and were lacking in "intellectual horsepower".
The Guardian newspaper suggests that Brown's report is being kept away from the Chilcot inquiry over fears that its use as evidence would result in its contents being made public.
In November 2009, several shorter "overall lessons learnt" papers were leaked and published online by The Daily Telegraph. The reports were said to show that planning for the invasion began in February 2002 and that the need to conceal the planning resulted in a rushed operation "lacking in coherence and resources" causing "significant risk" to troops and "critical failure" after the war.
An MoD spokesman told the Guardian: "Lt Gen Chris Brown has led a small team in the production of an internal, classified MoD paper examining the Iraq campaign for the purpose of learning lessons for the future. As part of the routine staffing of such an important piece of work, a variety of military officials and civil servants have provided input during the paper's development."
A spokesman for the Chilcot Inquiry into the Iraq war said the inquiry was confident it would be given access to "all relevant government documents".