The former head of the Royal Navy has claimed that the decision to invade Iraq was made before Tony Blair announced it and “they were looking for a reason”.
Admiral Lord West told The House magazine:
“Of course Blair and everyone else will say, ‘No, we didn’t make the decision until right up to it’. You can always say that, can’t you? But I would not have told the fleets, the Royal Navy and the Marines, to be ready for war in the northern Gulf by the end of the year. I would not have sailed the Mine Counter-measures Force for the Middle East so they were in place for operations.
You don’t wake up in the morning and think that. Some b*****d told me to do it. That’s why I did it. All the people involved say, ‘We hadn’t made our decision right up until the UN resolution’, and all these other things. Well, you can argue that you never make the final decision till you make your decision. But, actually, they’d bloody decided. That’s the reality.”
Lord West also said:
“I think there had been a decision that we were going to invade Iraq, that that was going to happen, but they were looking for a reason to actually do it.”
Operation Telic, the codename under which all of the United Kingdom’s military operations in Iraq were conducted, began at the start of the Invasion of Iraq on the 19th of March 2003. 46,000 troops were deployed at the onset of the invasion and the total cost of war stood at £9.24 billion in 2010.
A total of 179 British Armed Forces personnel died serving on Operation Telic between the start of the campaign in March 2003 and the end of operations in July 2009; 136 in hostile incidents and the remaining 43 under non-hostile circumstances.
Full non-fatal casualty records are currently only available for the period after 1 January 2006. From that date, 3,598 British personnel were wounded, injured or fell ill; 1,971 of whom required aeromedical evacuation.
However, these totals are likely to rise significantly as and when full records for 2003 to 2006 become available. By March 2007, more than 2,100 soldiers had returned from Iraq suffering from some form of mental illness, including PTSD.