The British Army’s Legacy in Iraq and Afghanistan


After an preliminary honeymoon, safety deteriorated. The battle turned politically poisonous in Britain, and when the U.S. surged in 2007 London had no urge for food to do the identical. Instead British commanders organized a secret take care of Shiite militias, buying and selling prisoner releases for a cessation of assaults on British bases.

This “accommodation” fell aside in March 2008 when Iraq’s prime minister, Nuri al-Maliki, abruptly despatched troops south. The British commanding common was on trip in a ski resort and Maliki publicly snubbed his deputy. U.S. and Iraqi troops went into motion whereas the British, till late in the day, stayed on the airport.

The occasions in Basra solid a protracted shadow. Later in Kabul a British officer requested Gen. David Petraeus how lengthy it will take the U.S. to neglect what occurred there. A era? he requested. Petraeus’s reply was telling. “Slightly longer,” he stated.

The U.S. navy, for all its scale and assets, didn’t “win” in Iraq or Afghanistan both. But the conflicts broken British navy standing with its most necessary ally.

What are the central issues of the British Army’s expertise and efficiency since 2001?

I see 4 interlinked areas. First, accountability. Almost each senior British navy commander who handed by way of Iraq and Afghanistan was promoted, irrespective of how badly issues went incorrect in the sector. Meanwhile, in parallel, Britain carried out a novel system of probes for junior malfeasance on the battlefield, from court docket instances permitted by the creeping attain of European Human Rights legislation to huge public inquiries. (Some of those investigations had been baseless, however in different instances the military did commit atrocities.)

The key level is that Britain allowed a “glut and void” scenario to develop, with extra accountability low down and none increased up. That created ethical hazard and meant prime commanders had been incentivized to take unhealthy motion over no motion.

Second, the military must overhaul its perspective to studying classes. While the establishment turned adept at taking over board low-level tactical expertise, over and over once more initiatives that aimed to establish what had gone incorrect on a broader remit had been both suppressed or stored on a problematically shut maintain. Throughout the Iraq and Afghan conflicts avoiding senior embarrassment ranked increased than a complete post-operational washup.



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