The Iraq Inquiry report has today stated that the British Army units deployed in the Iraq War were not given adequate or sufficient equipment.

The report identifies that the decision taken by the Government to accelerate the deployment of troops “compressed the timescales available for preparation”. While giving evidence to the Inquiry in 2010 Air Chief Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup stated that by giving the military only four months to prepare for war, there was a “significant difference” in military capability. Sir John Chilcot further criticised the MOD for being “slow” to provide appropriate equipment for troops.

The Land Rover Snatch-Vixen vehicle on show at the Urgent Operational Requirement (UOR) Equipment Demonstration in Salisbury, Wiltshire.
The lightly armoured Land Rover Snatch-Vixen PPV on show.

At a press conference held earlier by the families of soldiers killed in Iraq, many were critical of the manner in which troops were equipped. Roger Bacon who lost his son Matthew in 2005, just five weeks into his deployment, said “There is an equipment issue,” and suggested that legal action may be taken against the MOD based on the report’s contents.

Meanwhile, two soldiers who served in Iraq appeared on Radio 4’s Today programme, criticising the armour issued to troops in Iraq. Speaking on the programme, Lance Corporal Iain McMenemy said:

“We were issued with the body armour vest and we were given ceramic plates, one for the front, one for the back and that’s what stops a bullet.

“First week into the combat campaign itself we were asked to give them up. There were other troops that would be fighting, perhaps on foot, and the ones that were fighting on foot should have those ceramic plates because they may have more need for it.

“At the time we were asked, we were manning vehicle checkpoints on foot so we were very much at that point in the firing line, so we felt we shouldn’t be asked to give up the ceramic plates which were the difference between stopping a bullet and not.”

Lance Corporal Damien Hern recalled how he did not have the appropriate desert camouflage for the mission, and was deployed wearing ‘greens’, the name given to the camouflage intended for use in more temperate climates such as the UK. The soldier was told to “stay away” from a press event, so as not to be seen wearing the wrong equipment.

“Coffins on Wheels”

The continued use of the Snatch Land Rover was singled out for particular criticism in the report. The vehicles were lightly armoured, having been originally purchased for patrolling the streets of Belfast, and were unable to withstand the threat posed by roadside bombs. In the Summer of 2005 the issues with the Snatch peaked after twelve vehicles were destroyed, resulting in the deaths of 19 service personnel with many more injured. The vehicles were nicknamed “Coffins on Wheels” by the press, as an indictment of their poor safety record. However, it was not until almost a year later that the MOD finally placed an order for the replacement vehicle, the Mastiff. The report states:

“Although work had begun before 2002 to source an additional [Protected Patrol Vehicle], it was only ordered in July 2006 following Ministerial intervention.”

The report’s authors criticise the Executive Committee of the Army Board for lacking “focus” when there was an immediate need for a medium weight PPV to be selected.

Fighting on Two Fronts

The deployment of British troops in Afghanistan also affected the availability of resources for troops in Iraq. In particular, it was found that there weren’t sufficient helicopters to support both missions simultaneously. Without sufficient transport helicopter capability troops were faced to undertake dangerous overland journeys, exposing them to hostile forces. The report states:

“Between 2003 and 2009, UK Forces in Iraq faced gaps in some key capability areas, including protected mobility, ISTAR and helicopter support.”

Former Defence Secretary John Hutton painted the picture of the MOD being a “procurement shambles”. The helicopter shortage was compounded by issues being faced with eight Mk3 Chinook helicopters ordered from Boeing in 1995. A failure to include a key clause in the procurement contract left the aircraft lying unused in a hangar in Wiltshire with the total cost of the programme estimated at over £500m by the National Audit Office.

An RAF Chinook helicopter flying over the mountains of Afghanistan. Synonymous with operations in Afghanistan over the last thirteen years, the Chinook Force flew over 41,000 hours, extracted 13,000 casualties and its crews have been awarded numerous gallantry awards, including twenty three distinguished flying crosses for bravery in the air.
An RAF Chinook helicopter flying over the mountains of Afghanistan.

The Iraq Inquiry, dubbed the Chilcot report after it’s chairman Sir John Chilcot, is the longest running in British political history. After almost 7 years the Inquiry today published a 12.6 million word report, highly critical of the decisions taken surrounding the 2003 Iraq War. In the six years the war lasted there were 179 British service personnel killed, with the death toll from Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) standing at 47, the largest single cause of death.

29 COMMENTS

  1. The report is damning. Absolutely right that families should now look at suing the MoD and Government. Too long have the armed forces been underfunded and been told to make do!
    Time for the politicians to stand on a VCP with no body armour.

    • They should try suing Tony Blair he’s made enough money off the back of this ! and off tax payers remortgaging his properties and claiming expenses to pay for them 🤔 yet our boys n girls go into battle under equipped with outdated kit pffft

  2. Still happening today, and will always go on until the powers that be are brought to book over it. It’s time in some cases we buy off the shelf rather than use the MoD budget to subside lame duck industry’s here in the UK

  3. We didn’t need to wait seven years to be told that…Those snatch landRover great as they are we’re totally the wrong vehicle for the situation…The government and defence Minster knew that…they also had brand new suitable vehicles to replace them but they waited..till several brave troops died….I bet if Blair or the relevant defence Minster or senior military people were out in amongst it they would not have been in snatch land rovers….

  4. Which is disgusting whether u agree with any war or not that we get involved if we are going to send our men and women they should have everything in our power to protect to equipped them selves shamefull

  5. Baits have always been years behind with kid and it’s always been down to money. The top brass has a we can manage with what we have attitude. The top brass are institutionalised and stuck in the mood when it comes to kit and change

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