As it's now January 2013 (I've been writing this page since October 2012 - how time flies) and there's still no sign of an official report ... this page is dedicated to a continuation of our back of a fag packet analysis of the Iraq Inquiry.  Our initial interpretation of the transcripts (entirely filmed in Xtranormal) can be found here.    Here's a quick resume of what we've covered so far in previous articles:

Pear Shaped Iraq_Enquiry_Enquiry Page 1 Covers public evidence from Christopher Meyer, Jeremy Greenstock, Tim Dowse, Edward Chaplin, Sir David Manning, Sir William Patey, Vice Admiral Charles Style, General Sir John Reith, Alister Campbell, Lieutenant General Sir Richard Shirreff and Geoff Hoon
Pear Shaped Iraq_Enquiry_Enquiry Page 2 Covers public evidence from Jonathan Powell, Lord Goldsmith, Margaret Beckett, John Hutton, Sir Kevin Tebbit, General the Lord Walker of Aldringham, Clare Short, Ann Clwyd, Gordon Brown and endless analysis of what Jaques Chirac meant without asking him.
Pear Shaped Iraq_Enquiry_Enquiry Page 3 Covers public evidence from Douglas Alexander, David Miliband, Cathy Adams,  Sir John Holmes, Sir Jonathan Cunliffe, Mark Etherington CBE and Lord Boateng.
Pear Shaped Iraq_Enquiry_Enquiry Page 4 Covers public evidence from Carne Ross, Lt Gen Sir James Dutton KCB CBE, Stephen White, Baroness Elizabeth Manningham-Buller, Sir Peter Spencer KCB, Lord Prescott, Tony Blair (again) and Jack Straw.  It also covers some ludicrous conspiracy theories.
Most of the first 4 pages are brief commentary with the transcripts re-edited in Xtranormal format (the videos are also on Youtube).  For the next article we tried a different approach with a mixture of commentary, transcripts and Xtranormal animation...
MI6 goes Pear Shaped Iraq Covers SIS private evidence from MI6 officers SIS1, SIS2, SIS3,SIS4, SIS5 and SIS6 and C (Sir Richard Dearlove).  The Iraq Inquiry have so far interviewed (as far as I can figure out) at least 12 members of MI6. SIS1, SIS2, SIS3,SIS4, SIS5 and SIS6 have all had their transcripts published in some form whereas statements have been made that SIS8, SIS9 and SIS11’s transcripts will never be published due to the fact that “The Committee has concluded, in line with its Protocols, that it would not be possible to redact and publish the transcript without rendering it unintelligible”. Which leaves open the question of what’s happened to SIS7, SIS10 and SIS12’s testimony and will we ever see a transcript because the inquiry has not made a statement that we wont…?
Reconstruction goes Pear Shaped in Iraq Covers the reconstruction effort after the invasion and the private evidence of Edward Chaplin CMG OBE, The Hon Dominic Asquith CMG and Christopher Prentice CMG, HM Ambassadors to Iraq (2004 – 2009 collectively) and DFID and FCO functionaries JOHN TUCKNOTT, JONNY BAXTER, RICHARD JONES, ROB TINLINE, KATHLEEN REID, LINDY CAMERON, SIMON COLLIS, JAMES TANSLEY and TIM FOY
Kurdistan Goes Pear Shaped With Emma Sky - Emma Sky was sent to the US controlled region of Kirkuk in Kurdistan by the USA who secured her services from the British Council.  She maintains she was acting as effectively as a private citizen (not an employee of the British Government) at the time which is why she has a page entirely to herself.
The JIC goes Pear Shaped in Iraq - Sir John Scarlett and Julian Miller (heads of the JIC during the run up to the invasion) and Sir William Erhman and Tim Dowse (heads of of the JIC after the invasion of Iraq in 2003) discuss the actual evidence or lack of it for the claims within the two dossiers and illuminate us as the JIC intelligence QC processes in what is widely regarded as one of the most boring pages on the internet.

All's been fairly quiet with the Iraq Inquiry at the moment (November 2012) with the long awaited draft report remaining just that.... long awaited.  Indeed, so little has been written about, published by or heard from the Inquiry at the moment that many sections of the media seem to be under the illusion it is over.  It is not.

At the moment the Iraq Inquiry website states that......... "The Inquiry has advised the Prime Minister that it will be in a position to begin the process of writing to any individuals that may be criticised by the middle of 2013".  I think what that means is that the Salmon letters have not yet gone out and the report may in fact be delayed even longer than a year or a year and a half.  As you are no doubt sick of us opining this puts a realistic report publication date somewhere around early 2014 at the earliest

One thing that is over is the Leveson Inquiry into press standards...

Hugh Grant explains why it just isn't sporting
to photograph a man with his pants down

Yes the Leveson Inquiry set up on the 13th of July 2011 has managed to sort out the entire British Press and publish a full report by the 29th of November 2012.  Everything that is wrong with journalism in Britain took just over 15 months to correct.  It seems the solution is ...and is not... state regulation underpinned by legislation ...and if it is the Government will not introduce it without the coalition going into schism.

Despite former journalist and paparazzo for the "News of the World" Paul McMullan telling Hugh Grant in a taped conversation that "20 per cent of the Met has taken backhanders from tabloid hacks. So why would they want to open up that can of worms?... And what's wrong with that, anyway? It doesn't hurt anyone particularly" and despite Surrey Police having known as early as 2002 that Millie Dowler's phone had been hacked ...the Leveson Inquiry concluded that there was no evidence of widespread police corruption...and with the new politicisation of our local police forces this situation can only get better.  Former Assistant Commissioner John Yates alone was left to carry the PoPo can .................stating that ....taking no more than eight hours in July 2009 to decide there was no need to reopen the criminal inquiry into the "News of the World" had, in hindsight, been 'pretty ...'.

Before the report had fallen off the presses at Her Majesty's Stationary Office (Leveson had obviously learnt from the mistakes of the Iraq Inquiry and has been limiting the volume of information he placed online to ...erm ... the minimum?) Ed Miliband and his minions were busy on twitter calling loudly for statutory Press regulation ... that wasn't quite that. 

Left wing blogger and Ed Miliband fan Dr Eoin Clarke
cannot fathum any other emotion except compassion
when it comes to the McCanns

Dr Eoin Clarke who frequently has to apologise to various potentates for not being able to back up his claims that the Conservatives are selling large chunks of the NHS (which they are but that's not the point here) ...boldly stated that he doesn't want to live in a world where "innocent families like the McCanns and the Dowlers see lives torn apart for profit". 

When I pointed out that perhaps the McCanns are the greatest self publicists since P T Barnam he responded that this was the wrong view of things. 

I pointed out that the McCanns have run poster campaigns on the tube to promote Kate's recent book and said that surely they've now wasted more money failing to investigate a child abduction efficiently since the Lindbergh case created a similar hysteria 80 years ago. 

Dr Clarke stated that he had been on the tube and had not seen this advert and then insinuated that I'm just calous.  Maybe so.  After all, thinking clearly cannot be done at the same time as feeling... 

There we are then.  Dr Clarke has not seen it so it cannot be true.  I stated that just because what had happened to them was awful didn't mean we all had to immediately turn into mugs and buy everything they say. 

To which Mr Clarke responded "This is a family without their loved one trying their best to find her.  Anything but compassion is difficult to fathum. I pity u". 

I responded that it wasn't about compassion but me noticing things that do not fit Dr Clarke's political narrative - although I cannot replicate the entire conversation as he has deleted large chunks of it from his timeline.  Ah ... the wonder of twitter

I suppose that will be the world after statutary press regulation - observations that are not in the public interest will be deleted. 

Anyway I believe the McCann's libel action against Goncalo Amaral the Portugese police investigator is still ongoing and will be for the next 10 years so I'm not going to write about it because I do not know the Portugese for injunction. 

Ironically, of course, Dr Eoin's blog with its reliance on single sources and great inabilitiy to defend statements legally is exactly the sort of thing that a rigorous statutary press regulator would stamp on like a glass shoe for inaccuracy ... or would it?

As to the McCann abduction case ... who knows?  Maybe we should call in Scooby Doo. 

Except it sounds like someone already did that.  After all if the McCanns can merchandise their innocence it stands to reason someone will also try to merchandise their suspected guilt and Eddie and Keela the dogs even have their own website complete with tasteful dog tee shirts and mouse pads...Ah ...America with it's constitutional right to complete free speech however retarded where the McCann's new statutary underpinning will have no teeth at all ... Now if Eoin had fought the corner of Millie Dowler he might not have had to build his house on so much sand but... is this a bit off topic?  Well...

Conversely the Chilcot Inquiry was set up on 30th of July 2009 ...has now been running for approximately three and half years and shows absolutely no sign of reaching any firm conclusions within the next year and a half ...or any time "soon" at all...

Wandering a bit off topic again ...the hounding of Tony Blair by the

... "Arrest Blair"  website seems to be continuing... An interesting article in the Guardian finally reveals the promoter of this endeavour to be Mr George Monbiot.

Mr Lawley-Wakelin – the last bounty hunter hired by Mr Monbiot to“citzens arrest” Blair at the Leveson Inquiry...


...has just been fined £100 and asked to pay £250 costs.  He was fined under the infamous Section 5 of the Public Order Act 1986 which outlaws "insulting words or behaviour" in public.

The actual legislation reads ...

The offence is created by section 5 of the Public Order Act 1986:

(1) A person is guilty of an offence if he:
(a) uses threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour, or disorderly behaviour, or (b) displays any writing, sign or other visible representation which is threatening, abusive or insulting,
within the hearing or sight of a person likely to be caused harassment, alarm or distress thereby.

This offence has the following statutory defences:

(a) The defendant had no reason to believe that there was any person within hearing or sight who was likely to be alarmed or distressed by his action.

(b) The defendant was in a dwelling and had no reason to believe that his behaviour would be seen or heard by any person outside any dwelling.

(c) The conduct was reasonable.

Interestingly this law is in the process of being abolished by Theresa May after a long campaign by many people including David Davies, Peter Tatchell and Mr Bean.

So I wrote to the PoPo asking exactly what piece of legislation Mr Lawley-Wakelin had breached and whether such bounty hunting as promoted by Mr Monbiot was indeed legal.  This cause some problems as the PoPo could not decide whether it was an FOI request, a press inquiry or a General Inquiry.  After my email had passed between no less than three departments a PoPo replied:

"Andrew, As you can perhaps note from the conversation below, your "curious" enquiry doesn't really fall into a defined area of business, so I will attempt to give you a fairly generic response based on 26 years of operational policing.

Firstly, in very general terms, to protest is not per se an offence. However, the manner in which an individual chooses to protest may lead to them committing other specific offences, as you allude to with your comments regarding secondary picketing. The person who interrupted the Leveson Inquiry is possibly regarded as committing a public order offence or may be viewed as breaching the peace.

The general stance of the Police and CPS is to investigate allegations of crime and then decide whether it is in the public interest for any alleged suspects to be charged and placed before a Court. If no allegations of crime are reported then the Police will not be getting involved."

Well, certainly PayPal and various credit card companies have become queasy as the only way to donate money to the site now is via cheque.  Still I suppose environmental luddite Mr Monbiot needs to subcontract his protesting and everyone else to fund it.  He only earns £77,400 a year.

Mr John Rentoul unofficial Head of Apologetics at the Still got Faith in Tony Blair Foundations said:

 “He has always shown an unusual degree of self-control and has had to deal with this kind of hostility for a long time now. As prime minister, in the run-up to the Iraq war, he went on those TV programmes, as part of what Alastair Campbell called the masochism strategy. You could see the start of it then – the studio audiences treated him with a sort of disrespect that you hadn’t seen for a long time.”

Of course both Mr Blair and Alistair Campbell gave evidence to the Leveson Inquiry.

Alistair Campbell remarked sagely that: I am not sure if it can be claimed, as the Sun did after the Tories won in 1992, that “it was the Sun wot won it,” but there is no doubt in my mind that the systematic undermining of Labour and its leader and policies through these papers, actively encouraged and fed with lines of attack by Tory HQ, was a factor in Labour’s inability properly to connect with the public, and ultimate defeat.”

He also noted that “When I was in Downing Street, I was constantly told by PCC people that the three people who ’counted’ there were the chairman, Les Hinton and Paul Dacre.”

When editors were hauled in to go through the motions of their bollocking by the Prime Minister ...Mr Dacre of the Daily Mail was conspicuous by his absence.  As Patrick Wintor Political Editor of the Guardian noted

"Hamlet without the Prince, Paul Dacre the editor of the Mail was not at No 10" m

Mr Blair offered some amusingly implausible evidence to the Inquiry stating that : “If you take someone like Andrew Marr, who is a very good journalist, I would be astonished if he felt that he’d been bullied or intimidated. If he did feel that, then I’m sorry about it, and I certainly wouldn’t have known about it. .... But I suspect he is feeding back this thing that has grown up. You know – and also, some of these issues are different. For example, there will always be an interaction with the newspapers. If you’re going to launch a major campaign, and let’s say there’s a particular newspaper that’s been interested in this type of campaign – let’s say you were going to do a big thing on anti-social behaviour. It would make sense to talk to the Mirror, the Sun, maybe, about that.

We probably, in the later part, would have hesitated before talking to some of the papers that were utterly hostile for fear of the fact that you would simply have the story distorted in some way, so maybe that gives rise to that.  Briefing against people – I just want to make this clear: I couldn’t abide that. If I ever thought anyone was doing it, I would be absolutely down on them like a ton of bricks.

I remember, for example, stories – I remember there were a lot of prominent stories at a certain point in time in relation to the late Mo Mowlam, and how I was very angry because she got a standing ovation at a party conference and we were briefing against her ... It was completely untrue....

Q: I think the thesis being advanced is that the masters of the dark arts, whether they be Lord Mandelson or Alastair Campbell, tended to pick on junior reporters or producers... and let off people like Mr. Marr himself?

A: No, that’s my point, really, that in the end they receive this as sort of second-hand – look, I have no doubt that we used to complain strongly if we thought that stories were wrong. You know, I think that’s perfectly legitimate.

But I always felt – and I’m probably not the right person to be objective about this at all – but I always felt that their actual pushback against us was because for the first time, the Labour Party ran a really effective media operation, where we were able – and also, by the way, we were in circumstances where, for the first time politically, the Labour Party was able to go on and win successive elections. As I said earlier, we’d never won two successive first terms, never mind three, and I felt you had to have a strong media operation, but I completely dispute that it was part of that to go and brief against ministers.

The only other Iraq sounding noise to be heard at the moment is the sound of General Petraeus (who had recently promoted to head of the CIA) ... falling on his sword ...

...as some rather angry women came out of their closets to accuse him of being a bit of a cad. 

Of course although this is a salatious sex story
Lord Leveson would agree we are allowed to be interested in it
because depsite General Petraeus never having been elected
 it is clearly
whatever that means.  Ordinary people's sex lives are not in the public interest
and we certainly would never allow them to talk about them on stage at the Pear.

Like many of the potentates who inhabit these pages General David Petraeus seems to have quite a few links down Kings College London - although how much time he spent there if any I wouldn't know.  But we found he'd been there in person at least once...

For those who haven't been following the plot of these pages (everyone?) the KCL Department of War Studies is the place to hang out if you're in Military Intelligence or something ....and have nothing to do at the moment? It's where Emma Sky goes when she's not in a war zone anyway.

It seems Petraeus's bit of fluff "Harvard graduate" Paula Broadwell spent a great deal of time with Petraeus while doing research for "All In: The Education of General David Petraeus." in Afghanistan where he'd been sent to do more of the pooper scooping he'd had to do in Iraq.  And then more time down KCL writing how spiffing he's been...

Paula is conducting a study in military innovation. Her work challenges existing theories which emphasize top-down transformations by examining the roles of bottom-up catalytsts and mid-level military mavericks in galvanizing institutional innovation, particularly in unconventional warfare and counterinsurgency operations. In addition to exploring the history of U.S. counterinsurgency doctrine, her research examines the role of one individual who often receives credit for the U.S. defense innovation in the "new counterinsurgency era," General David Petraeus. By exploring Petraeus's "intellectual biography," her research illustrates the origins of his beliefs in population-centric counterinsurgency warfare and American grand strategy

Ms Broadwell's book started life as a PhD thesis.  As her access to him increased her thesis turned into a book.  It seems they used to go on long grueling runs together in the early mornings - both are health fanatics.  For some reason this brought into my mind images of super ambitious Clarice Starling going on long runs to try to climb the career ladder in the opening sequence of Silence of the Lambs.... but let's not go there.

According to Boston.com Paula Broadwell abandoned her bid for a doctorate from Harvard in 2007, failing to advance to PhD candidacy after four semesters at the Kennedy School of Government, and now faces the prospect of an ethical review at King’s College London, where she has resumed pursuit of a doctorate.

Passers by of King's College London may notice that it justifies it's £9000 tuition fees with photographs in the windows of its various previous associates and alumni in much the same way that a comedy promoter might fill their walls and website with pictures of people who gigged for them as an open spot but they might not be able to employ any more. 

William Sommers
veteran of many Royal Command performances

is only one of many acts to have recently played the Pear

This is quite a good marketing strategy (pioneered by Mr Inkey Jones) but we feel they are missing a trick by not making more of their connections to the American Military, MI6 and the CIA and feel they would sell more places if it looked like this:

Anyway ...things went Pear Shaped for General Petraeus when a jealous Paula Broadwell blew the lid on their relationship by sending "threatening" emails to Jill Kellley (a "volunteer" at a US airbase) who it turned out was also sending "innapropriate" emails to General John Allen who had taken over General Broadwell's job as head of things in Afghanistan when General Broadwell went to the CIA. 

From 2006–2008
Allen served as Deputy Commanding General, II Marine Expeditionary Force and
Commanding General, 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade,
deploying to Iraq for Operation Iraqi Freedom 06-08
serving as the Deputy Commanding General of Multi-National Forces West
and II MEF (Forward) in the Al Anbar Province, Iraq.
Basically he was General Petraeus's Baldrick

This led to ...or was the cause of General Allen himself being investigated... when Ms Kelley complained to Frederick Humphries another "friend" and "veteran FBI counter-terrorism agent" about anonymous email harassment in May 2012. 

Mr Humphries was not allowed to investigate the case himself due to fears that he might be personally implicated and the FBI became involved. 

Confused?  Never mind the BBC have come up with a diagram and the Daily Mail have uncovered embarassing personal letters in which General Petraeus claims to have "screwed up royally".

It seems now that Jill Kelley`s attorney, Abbe Lowell claims that she was just an innocent party, who exposed the real culprit (Paula Broadwell)... according to the Student Operated Press anyway.  Your guess is a vague as mine ... for legal reasons.

More dirt can be discovered in the Tampa Bay Times which gleefully reports how "when cancer specialist Dr. Scott T. Kelley moved from the Northeast to become one of Moffitt Cancer Center's most distinct specialists, his wife, Jill, threw herself into the South Tampa social scene".

"Before long, the Kelley mansion became the place to be seen for coalition officers. Gen. David Petraeus, leader of U.S. Central Command at MacDill, marked his first celebration of the Gasparilla pirate parade on the Kelleys' lawn."

The article then goes on to explain that within 3 months of their moving into their new home a bank had foreclosed on the Kelleys claiming they owed more the $2.2 million including legal fees.  It was about this time that the "threatening anonymous emails" started - although they didn't mention General Petraeus by name...  This seems to be one of a number of legal actions.

"Jill Kelley established a name for herself as an extravagant hostess with a military guest list. She functions as an unpaid social liaison for the Air Force base in South Tampa.  All or nearly all of her parties include members of the military coalition. During Gasparilla earlier this year, the head of the coalition appeared at the couple's heavily guarded home.  Civilian guests have included David Laxer, owner of Bern's Steakhouse, Ron Vaughn, president of the University of Tampa, Pam Bondi, the state attorney general, and Dick Greco, a former Tampa mayor."

All of which is very interesting but probably far too sensational for Lord Leveson so back to the serious business of the Iraq Inquiry transcripts.  According to the Iraq Inquiry General Petraeus was quite a good general although it was noted that he perhaps lacked interest in the British Sector...? 

SIS6 of MI6 recalled

SIS6: It always seemed to me that Basra wasn't central to Iraq -- wasn't a central political issue. It was -- if you look at the records of the governmental meetings and committees, and Petraeus' sessions and so on, the south isn't seen as particularly important because the big battle is against Al Qaeda, and the Sunni heartlands. That's where the really serious insurgency is going on, and that's what Maliki and Petraeus concentrated on.

While Richard Jones Consul General in Basra from March 2007 until March 2008 said:

RICHARD JONES: As far as we were concerned locally [Basra], I think there were probably two main channels of communication. One was on the military net, with the Americans wanting to know what we were up to, and obviously the three GOCs that I worked with had a crucial role in sort of explaining to their military superiors in the American system what was going on and convincing them that their strategy was right, and I think that worked pretty really. Re-reading some of the documentation, the number of times I have seen "Petraeus would trust the GOC's judgment on this point" is quite telling. The other relationship that we had was with the US regional embassy office in Basra.

Conversely Emma of Kurdistan enthused that

MS EMMA SKY: I mean, again you will hear when General Petraeus speaks, he will always speak with great appreciation of the UK forces. When you look, okay, you have got the US military, the best in the world, but who is second? The British forces are still -- you know, when they operate in Afghanistan, they are operating with none of the caveats of other European nations.  So there's still this sense, of course, the Americans wish the British were bigger and had more resources. There is an appreciation of them, and I think when you have had embeds -- I mean, General Lamb and General Petraeus' relationship was superb. General Lamb, the right person at the right time, managed to get people to see things differently. If he hadn't been there, it might not have gone in the way it had gone. So I think playing that role as embeds, as good allies is a tremendous role, because even if you are from another military and it is a plug-in culture, you are still bringing something which is a bit different, and full credit to the US military to being open to incorporate these differences.

Well, hardly surprising General Petraeus and General Lamb got on so well if General Petraeus just left him to it most of the time.

Actually all this isn't quite all irrelevant tittle tattle as this page is dedicated to the subject of Military Intelligence and  Petraeus's sexual exploits and Ms Kelley's parties for off duty Generals sort of gives us a different insight into a world which normally (and certainly in the Iraq Inquiry transcripts) seems extremely staid, sedentary and protocolised to the point of petrifaction... while still managing to kill people. 

So just as you're drifting off reading the below think of General Petraeus in his underpants and hopefully it will all get interesting again. 

Anyway the rest of this page concerns the DIS.  I wasn't going to write it before ...and then was ... and the wasn't ...as much of the material covers information that is already available in other transcripts.  But as General Petraeus decided to get caught with his pants down ... I thought we'd go there again... so why not carry on doing our own?   If nothing else it adds a slightly differenct perspective on events. So this page is really an attempt so see how DIS boss Martin Howard's version of events slots in to previous testimony...

...although it may have wandered off topic a bit above.  Anyway ...The DIS is the cinderella service of the British Secret Services.  The one that no one writes about and certainly no one makes films about. 

The Defence Intelligence Service is in charge of Military Intilligence and run out the MOD.  It's boss Martin Howard ...

...gave evidence to the inquiry both in secret and in public.  This is the transcript of the secret session followed by the transcript of his public session ... much of which covers stuff already covered before on the previous Iraq pages but it is, I think, interesting to see the DIS's view of the dossier material and, in particular, of the now discredited source of the 45 minutes claim, known simply here as "Mr Curveball" ...particularly so since they seem to believe that in many ways they were the "lead agency".

Mr Curveball explains to the Guardian how to make stuff up
(his real name is Rafid Ahmed Alwan al-Janabi).

THE CHAIRMAN: This morning, we welcome Martin Howard, Deputy Chief of Defence Intelligence, which is the senior civilian post in the Defence Intelligence Service1, from early 2003 to May 2004, and then DG Operational Policy in the MOD to 2007. We envisage this morning's session lasting no more than an hour and a half because we have a further opportunity to hear from Martin Howard in public next month.  The session is being held in private because we recognise that much of the evidence in the areas we want to cover will be sensitive within the categories set out in the Inquiry's Protocol on Sensitive Information -- for example, on grounds of international relations or national security.  We will apply the Protocol between the Inquiry and HMG regarding Documents and Other Written and Electronic Information in considering whether and how evidence given in relation to classified documents and/or sensitive matters more widely can be drawn on and explained in public, either in the Inquiry Report or, where appropriate, at an earlier stage.  If other evidence is given during this hearing which neither relates to classified documents nor engages any of the categories set out in that Protocol, that evidence would be capable of being published, subject to the procedures set out in our letter to you.  We recognise witnesses are giving evidence based on their recollection of events, and we cross-check what we hear against the papers to which we have access.  I remind every witness on every occasion that they will later be asked to sign a transcript of their evidence to the effect that the evidence they have given is truthful, fair and accurate. For security reasons, in this case we will not be releasing copies of the transcript outside this building. So I'm afraid, when convenient to you, could you review it upstairs here.  With that out of the way, let's move straight to the questions. I'll ask Sir Lawrence Freedman to start.

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: Can I just check, you came in January or February 2003?

MARTIN HOWARD: February 2003, I started. I think it was more to the beginning of February.

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: The beginning of February 2003?


SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: So you came in at a point when obviously this whole issue had been pretty live for a while.


SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: How aware were you of the efforts DIS had been making in order to find evidence of Iraqi WMD activity?

MARTIN HOWARD: Well, the DIS were sort of part of a broader intelligence effort to establish the truth of the position on weapons of mass destruction, and of course this is before the war, so we were still relying on the intelligence sources that we had.  I think that the role of the DIS in many ways was concentrated in the analytical and assessment area, really making use of the expertise by the Defence Intelligence Staff has in the area of WMD, to interpret evidence which had come perhaps from human intelligence [REDACTED] although there wasn't really very much on that side of things, and check it against what they knew, their own expertise.  The other contribution that the DIS made was that for many years the DIS had supported UN inspections inside Iraq, UNSCOM and then UNMOVIC...

We have been through the tedium of UNSCOM and UNMOVIC before on other pages.  Suffice to say most MI6, MI5 and DIS information on WMD came straight from the weapons inspection teams that were sent in to look for WMD.  If this sounds to you like a conflict of interest or a positive feedback loop you are not alone.  Anyway the whole thing is best summed up by repeating this diagram:

..., and as a result had built up both a familiarity with how the UN carried out its inspection work, and also familiarity with the people who did that. [REDACTED]. So they helped to bring that expertise to it, but we fed into a broader process.

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: Did you feel there was a general concern that there wasn't a lot of information upon which they could work?

MARTIN HOWARD: I'm not sure "concern" would be the right word. I think it was an acknowledged fact that the actual amount of intelligence available from a number of sources was very slight, but that was characteristic of Iraq and had been characteristic of Iraq for many years. [REDACTED].  So like any intelligence organisation, we would have liked more, but you have to work with what you've got. I don't think there was a concern in the sense that we only had a few sources, therefore this whole thing was wrong. I never found it.

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: So how did you view the overall assessment of Iraq's WMD when you arrived? Were you confident in the position that had been reached?

MARTIN HOWARD: I was pretty confident, yes. Because I had done some of this work before in the mid-1990s, in the assessment staff, the position seemed quite familiar. There had been some developments because I had been out of the intelligence work for a while and come back, but it seemed to be a logical progression from the position it was in the 1990s, and the judgments that I saw from JIC papers in 2002 and from papers produced by the DIS, as it were supporting that process, seemed to me to be well-founded.

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: One of the features of the assessment seems to be the unresolved business left over from UNSCOM, the questions that had been left.


SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: In your sense, how strong or what sort of proportion of the final assessment would you say was weighted on the UNSCOM unresolved issues?

MARTIN HOWARD: I think the assessment on physical holdings of WMD did rely to a substantial account on that. I can't remember all the details, but certainly discrepancies in relation to biological weapons, for example, on growth media, was one big gap that was left over from earlier inspections which had never been resolved. Similar issues existed around missiles, long-range missiles.  So I think in terms of the judgments about whether or not there were physical holdings of WMD, that was quite an important point.  Of course that wasn't the totality of the judgments. There were judgments about intent, past record and so on and so forth. But in that respect, I think it was a major factor.

We've already been over the sordid issue of what missiles Iraq did and didn't have before...

... in the JIC goes Pear Shaped in Iraq

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: Thank you. Then when you came in -- in December there had been the Iraqi disclosure in line with resolution 1441.


SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: And presumably DIS would have played quite an important role in assessing the Iraqi disclosure. Can you recall how that was viewed, whether there was seen to be any new information, whether it was just seen to be in line with previous statements?

MARTIN HOWARD: Well, it was obviously a little bit before my time, but I was obviously briefed on it when I arrived.  Basically, the Iraqis produced a declaration which was something like 11,000 pages of mixed material, some in Russian, some in English, some in Arabic, and included electronic media as well.

The DIS, as the repository of expertise on these things, basically spent the weekend analysing it, generated assessment, which in due course was translated into a JIC assessment from -- it would have been, I think, in December, possibly into January, but I think it was in December.   That said that the judgment that the JIC reached at that time was that it confirmed some information we had about past programmes. It didn't address all the questions that had been raised by the UN, and it didn't address all the issues raised in the September 2002 dossier.  So I'm not sure it changed our overall assessment of the position of Iraq and its possession of WMD, but it was quite a detailed analysis of the declaration that Iraq made.

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: Do you think the September 2002 dossier, or the JIC assessment on which it was based, was being used as our benchmark against which to judge the accuracy of what the Iraqis were saying?

MARTIN HOWARD: Well, I think it would have been one of them. There was a series of JIC assessments. I think there was a JIC assessment in September 2002, which actually covered very similar ground to the dossier, and regardless of what people think about the dossier, you know, that JIC judgment, that JIC assessment, was, as it were, the latest assessment. The process continued, obviously, after the Iraqi declaration. To the extent that the September JIC assessment covered the same ground as the dossier, the two were very similar.

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: It just gets back to one of the problems throughout this whole episode of Iraqi declarations being judged against an assessment, no doubt produced in good faith, but which turns out to have been wrong. So I'm interested in the extent to which it coloured the view of the assessment of the disclosure.

MARTIN HOWARD: It's hard to deny what you say, but the fact is that Iraq WMD was the subject of a continuous series of assessments from the early 1990s, right the way through up to the start of hostilities in 2003. As you say, those were produced in good faith. They were based on the intelligence we had. [REDACTED]. They were also based on Saddam's past record, his well-documented systems for deception and obstruction of UN inspectors. It would have, I think, taken a brave person to say that the whole thing was a sham.

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: Just one final question. You are no doubt aware that there have been a number of suggestions of pressure being put on DIS to come up with assessments which help to support the policy that the Government was pursuing at the time. When you came in, were you made aware of any concerns to this effect or any concerns in relation to the September dossier?

MARTIN HOWARD: Well, there was a very specific issue in relation to the September dossier which I covered at some length when I appeared before the Hutton Inquiry, where two analysts felt that the phraseology used in the foreword of the dossier didn't quite bear the weight of the intelligence -- the intelligence didn't bear the weight of it. It was the difference, and again, I can't remember exactly, between

"intelligence shows"


"intelligence indicates",

that kind of thing.

Those experts -- and a lot of it was around the issue of the so-called 45 minutes point. It's worth saying that those experts were in the technical WMD part of the DIS.

Another part of the DIS, which actually dealt with Iraqi army tactics, and indeed the use of battlefield munitions, they also looked at this, and they actually thought this was entirely sensible and credible.
So there was that one specific issue which, as I said, I covered at length in evidence to Lord Hutton.
But I never got the impression, certainly when I was there, and I never had an impression reported to me, that there was a systematic pressure on the DIS to come up with things which would then be sort of slanted or spun in a particular way. I would have said there were some issues specifically around the dossier, but in general I wouldn't have said that was the case.

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: And you didn't feel yourself under any pressure from a couple of months before the war?

MARTIN HOWARD: No, we were there to do our best to provide intelligence support for what clearly was inevitably going to be a conflict. It was simply evident that that was what was going to happen.


THE CHAIRMAN: Thanks. I'll turn to Sir Martin Gilbert.  Ithink, Martin, you want to ask some questions about the ISG.

SIR MARTIN GILBERT: Essentially about the establishment of the ISG from our perspective.  First of all, whose responsibility was it from the UK perspective to start the ISG?

The ISG was the Iraq Survey Group sent after the war to look for WMD
Here's a nice picture of a weapons inspector donated by the IAEA
Readers of previous episodes in this series will recall the ISG found bugger all.

MARTIN HOWARD: Well, I guess probably mine in the sense that I was the first person to discuss it with the Defence Intelligence Agency of the United States. It was an American idea, but I think in April 2003 I had a videoconference with a senior member of the DIA, whose name I'm afraid I have forgotten -- I can't remember who it was -- where he raised this idea of the Iraq Survey Group, a fully integrated team to go into theatre, and asked what I thought about it and whether the UK would want to be part of it. My recollection was that, yes, this seemed a good idea to me, that, obviously subject to decisions by ministers, I'm sure the UK would want to be part of it. So that's how it started.


SIR MARTIN GILBERT: Whose responsibility was it to provide the analysts and technical experts?

MARTIN HOWARD: In theory it was a cross-Government responsibility under the direction of, first of all, a JIC sub-group chaired by Sir John Scarlett and a working group chaired by me. In practice it was mostly the DIS that found analysts. I think the one exception was that we did invite a small number of ex-UNSCOM inspectors to be part of it. That was done under my direction, but dealt with by another part of the MOD, the contact with them.

SIR MARTIN GILBERT: We have heard there were problems with providing subject matter experts. Why was this?

MARTIN HOWARD: Well, I think, first of all, the requirement was quite large in terms of numbers of subject matter experts, and the fact is there aren't that many who really know deeply about the subject matter. We would have had to reach judgments about whether those people were still needed in London or whether they could be deployed. So it was a question of making use of the talent that we had.
After a while, one of the other problems that we had was rotation. We only posted people for a short period into theatre. So that tends to use up people very quickly.
We did actually bring in other analytical experts, who weren't necessarily deep experts in WMD, but who knew the principles of intelligence analysis and who were able to contribute very strongly.

SIR MARTIN GILBERT: Were other Government departments drawn into this?

MARTIN HOWARD: Well, I tried, but, to be honest, it was mostly from my own resources that we found people, as I said, with the exception of the ex-inspectors that we recruited through the counter proliferation group.

SIR MARTIN GILBERT: Why did your efforts not succeed?

MARTIN HOWARD: Well, I'm not very sure I know why. Maybe I just wasn't sufficiently persuasive in my advocacy. [REDACTED] But, to be fair, most of the expertise is in the DIS. Then when you add in other expertise like sample testing and DSTL, which is another defence organisation, they contributed.

The DSTL is the The Defence Science and Technology Laboratory.  Dstl is a trading fund owned by the Secretary of State for Defence. Most funding comes from the Ministry of Defence, although a small portion comes from other government departments and commercial sources. According to 2009/10 figures (and wikipedia), around 89% of Dstl's income comes from MOD. The remaining 11% of income comes from other government departments (64%) and non-exchequer sources (36%).  It was previously the Defence Evaluation and Research Agency (DERA) before that was privatised by Tony Blair  ...

...and split into two parts, Dstl and QinetiQ (a commercial arm).

DSTL's most widely known hangout is Porton Down ...

...where it has been doing dodgy things with poison gasses since 1917

This is, of course, how Dr David Kelly came to be involved.
He wasn't actually in the intelligence services
but they called on his, and DSTL's, services
whenever they needed to know about poison gas.
Possibly part-privatising your poison gas experts
may result in it being a bit more difficult to keep their traps shut.

Do we think Dr Kelly's death an accident?
Well, let's say if it was it was about as plausible an accident as
the death by cyanide of Alan Turning
who died having left no suicide note
after making a long "to do" list for the next day

People who were doing explosives ordinance disposal, because it was a very hazardous operation, they came from the MOD as well, and it was sensible they came from the MOD. So I don't feel in any sense aggrieved that we had to do the heavy lifting.

Martin Howard on John Deverell being pulled out


THE CHAIRMAN: Okay. Let's turn to the post public reassessment of the WMD.

BARONESS USHA PRASHAR: Can you just tell me, what was your level of confidence in the ISG's ability to provide an accurate account of Saddam's weapons programme under David Kay?

MARTIN HOWARD: I think the ISG had many strengths, and I have to say, if I could make this point early on, that I felt it was the right approach, and in similar circumstances, though they are very unlikely to arise, I think something like that would work.

BARONESS USHA PRASHAR: The right approach under David Kay?

MARTIN HOWARD: The right approach, full stop. The idea of having a large integrated in theatre team of collectors, operators, analysts, that seemed to me to be a very sound construct.  The appointment of David Kay...

Former UN Cheif Weapons inspector David Kay said before the Invasion
"Iraq stands in clear violation of international orders to rid itself of these weapons."
He was then sent byt the US to look for WMD after the Invasion when he decided that

"I think there were stockpiles at the end of the first Gulf War and
a combination of U.N. inspectors and unilateral Iraqi action got rid of them."

Again see the JIC goes Pear Shaped in Iraq

..., I think, was an interesting moment because initially it was going to be a DIA organisation

 headed by Major General Keith Dayton, ...

...and in fact Keith did actually stay in command. But in around about May or June 2003 -- I can't remember exactly when -- [REDACTED] and hence the appointment of David Kay and then, after him, Charles Duelfer.  Actually, although at the time I was slightly concerned that we would end up with a split command, it worked quite well. Keith Dayton got on, ran the ISG, did the tasking, sent people out, made sure they were properly protected and, as it were, managed the administration, and David really concentrated on the analytical effort and targeting the analysis, saying this is where we need to concentrate our efforts, and I think that actually worked reasonably well.  I thought that the industrial handling of documents and other sources by the ISG was very good. I think there were problems, nevertheless, of record-keeping, and problems of actually really bringing a vast amount of material into a single cohesive report.  So it was a mixed picture, but the general approach, I think, was right.

BARONESS USHA PRASHAR: Did things change under Charles Duelfer, and did you have personal contact with him?

MARTIN HOWARD: Yes, I had several contacts with Charles Duelfer.  First of all, there was a gap, which was unsatisfactory, between the departure of David Kay and Charles Duelfer's arrival. Charles was a different sort of individual, who was perhaps slightly more communitaire, if I can put it that way, than David. But he had a not dissimilar background, and actually he essentially picked up the baton from where David left it. He switched direction in a couple of areas, which you would expect, but the basic approach of giving guidance to the analysts, setting priorities for target areas to investigate, I think was very similar.  So, as I say, he was a different person to deal with on a personality basis, but the overall construct was the same.

BARONESS USHA PRASHAR: Were you able to feed advice and comments to him readily?

MARTIN HOWARD: Yes. First of all, we had the deputy commander and I had 40 DIS people out there. So they were working. But we had pretty regular contacts with Charles Duelfer. I visited Iraq several times, and I think from about the end of 2003 or early 2004, when Charles Duelfer was appointed, I was plugged into the weekly US VTC conference which was chaired by CIA, and that helped a lot. That was quite a departure from previous practice. [REDACTED].

BARONESS USHA PRASHAR: I understand that in early 2004 John Scarlett suggested to Duelfer that he include some of the nuggets from Kay's report into his status report. We have seen evidence that these suggestions were made following consultation with the entire intelligence community. Were you consulted, and who would Scarlett have consulted before making such comments?

MARTIN HOWARD: I remember that. I think that came up in a videoconference where John Scarlett and I were there together. John never used the word nuggets. I think this came out afterwards from Charles Duelfer.  What John asked was that -- the previous September we had gone through David Kay's interim report, which was a very thick document. I had to go to Washington especially to read it and go through it in a lot of detail. And of course, you know, we had our copies of that, and within that there were half a dozen quite interesting pieces of intelligence about particular parts of the programme which, when we saw the material that Charles Duelfer was assembling, seemed to have gone missing, as it were. John, I think quite reasonably, said, "I remember these things, are we going to include them in the next assessment?", and that was it. It was a part of a much longer VTC [Verification Test Case?]. It may have slightly entered folklore as the "Scarlett nuggets", but John never actually used that word.

BARONESS USHA PRASHAR: So what was the significance of the comment that he consulted the entire intelligence community?

MARTIN HOWARD: Well, because the way the ISG was managed was that it was done through a subcommittee of the JIC, chaired by John Scarlett, and the detailed work was chaired by my task force, which of course included representatives from all the agencies, SIS, GCHQ and so on. So the whole process was done as not a collective effort, but certainly as a consultative effort involving all the agencies.

BARONESS USHA PRASHAR: Were there differences in assessment between the ISG and our Government on issues such as trailers or on the reliability of CURVE BALL?

MARTIN HOWARD: Well, I think there were, if you like, tactical differences. The trailers issue -- you will remember the pre-war intelligence about the transport production system.

Yes, Regular readers of the Pear Shaped Comedy Club website will recognise this Powerpoint Slide from the layout - it is another from Colin Powell's UN Security Council presentation of 2003 on why Iraq was very naughty and needed to be invaded - showing Curveball's imagined mobile labs...

The MOD likes three letter acronyms, so it became TPS inevitably.  Then in April 2003 we actually found some trailers which looked the part, if I can put it that way. So I sent my top BW expert into Iraq to look at them, and she came back with some conclusions saying, well, there were similarities, not conclusive. And that sort of process of investigating the trailers went on through the ISG.  I think there were differences of view. I think there were differences of view between individuals, not necessarily between HMG and the ISG. I think actually there were differences of view inside the DIS.


MARTIN HOWARD: Yes, and when I left it had still not been resolved, and I think to this day no one quite knows what the trailers were for. They could have been very inefficient mechanisms for generating hydrogen for balloons.

To put that in perspective ... here's a picture from the South Pole of a man filling a hydrogen balloon...

...is it me or does his equipment look somewhat simpler than Colin Powell's imagined mobile lab ...?

They could have been very inefficient means of generating BW. So the jury is still out.


MARTIN HOWARD: CURVE BALL, [REDACTED] , I think in the end -- I think the SIS view, and it would be worth asking SIS about this because they were closer to it than I was, was that, although they agreed in the end that his reporting was probably unreliable in some areas, there are other areas where actually he seemed to be quite well placed. [REDACTED] .2

2 The witness explained that the reports had been received through a liaison service and SIS was not able to question CURVE BALL until after the military conflict.

Here's what SIS4


said about Curveball...

SIS4: No. No, but it was no longer operationally politically sensitive. Policy no longer depended on CURVE BALL. Stuff hadn't been found. I think the site was visited. On balance, CURVE BALL was just too unreliable.

...whatever that means?

So again, during my time CURVE BALL was still, to the point when I left in May 2004 -- I think at that time CURVE BALL was still regarded as a [REDACTED] reasonable source.  I can't remember what those questions were. So at that stage he was still regarded as an asset.

BARONESS USHA PRASHAR: What was the opinion of the UK personnel in the ISG on these issues? What was the opinion of UK personnel?

MARTIN HOWARD: On what, in particular?

BARONESS USHA PRASHAR: On the issues such as CURVE BALL and trailers and the differences?

MARTIN HOWARD: I don't think they had a distinctive view which was different from other parts of the ISG or other parts of the DIS. As I said, there were differences of view, but they were mostly differences of view between individuals rather than necessarily between organisations, I would say.  The DIS team out there were working on a vast range of issues, of which the TPS, the trailers issue, was but one. There were many, many other things that they were investigating. So I don't think they were sitting there thinking about that most of the time.

THE CHAIRMAN: Lawrence, you wanted to come in on something.

Now Sir Lawrence Freedman presses Martin Howard on the question of the ISG's search for WMD after the invasion and the timeframe in which the DIS, MI6 and the JIC took to admit there was nothing there. 

SIS3 recalled...

We dont know what SIS3 looks like
but here's a substitute image of a completely random
member of the general public
who probably looks nothing like him

SIS3 : The Iraq Survey Group was established in double quick time by the Americans, and I assume we were consulted at the political level about that, but basically this was the President deciding he wanted to have Iraq swept, as it were, for WMD, because it was rather important to him and to everybody else that that was found.  So he tasked, as I recall, Condi Rice,

who at that stage was National Security Adviser. She turned to George Tenet, who was Director CIA, and George Tenet appointed David Kay.  So the ISG, Iraq Survey Group, was under formation, I would say, in early May…”

When the International Survey Group (ISG) finally found no WMD to speak of its cheif David Kay resigned with the words "it turns out that we were all wrong". 

Former UN Cheif Weapons inspector David Kay said before the Invasion
"Iraq stands in clear violation of international orders to rid itself of these weapons."
He was then sent byt the US to look for WMD after the Invasion when he decided that

"I think there were stockpiles at the end of the first Gulf War and
a combination of U.N. inspectors and unilateral Iraqi action got rid of them."

Leaving his work to be picked up by Charles Duelfer ...

...who compiled it into what became known as the Duelfer report which authoritatively concluded there was nothing there... Now I'm not sure I've read this bit right but

Sir Lawrence seems to insinutate that due to the fact the ISG was finding no WMD the government either tried to conceal this fact or dragged its feet over disseminating the information? ..

...and then to insinuate further that this position rapidly became untenable after David Kay went on the record to say the was nothing there...?

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: Just one question. Obviously the work of ISG was covering some pretty explosive stuff in terms of the politics of the UK, and there were a variety of discussions about how this should be released on an interim basis, and then what would happen with Duelfer's interim report, which I guess would still have been live while you were --

MARTIN HOWARD: Yes, it was. In March, I think.

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: There have been suggestions that the British were not desperately keen for too definitive judgments to come out until absolutely sure that there was nothing there, or not what had been described before. Do you recall those debates?

MARTIN HOWARD: I do recall those. [REDACTED]  David Kay gave evidence to Congress, quite detailed evidence, but with some parts redacted to protect sources. And that had been, you know, a big public event with mixed outcomes, if you like, for the Government.  I think the view in February/March 2004, when Charles Duelfer was considering doing an interim report, was a concern across Whitehall -- it wasn't just me, though I have to say I shared the concern -- that another published interim report, which didn't say much more than was said in September, it wasn't going to be of much substantive value and, to be frank, would probably not help the public presentation of these issues.  So I think the line that John Scarlett and I took was that it would be better to hold off a full report, a detailed report, when more work had been done. I don't think we were -- we weren't against the idea of a progress report itself, but I think we were concerned that another full detailed report would look too similar to what had happened in September.

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: But in the interim, you would have David Kay's "you were all wrong" outburst.


SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: So in a sense the genie was out of the bottle.

MARTIN HOWARD: Yes. Well, in one sense it was, but in a very strong other sense, the ISG had not finished its work, and it did a lot more work in the period between January, when David Kay said those things, and when it was finally reported, which I think was in September 2004.

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: Were you surprised by David Kay's statement?

MARTIN HOWARD: Well, it's hard to say, really. I sort of knew David Kay a bit. He had come in very much in order to make this work and saw this very much as a reputational thing for him, as much as anything else. I thought it was inevitable that once he decided to resign, that he would make public statements.  I thought the statement he made was too definitive. I can't  really remember whether I was surprised or not, but I certainly felt that he had drawn conclusions too early.


We've covered this before on the JIC and MI6 pages.... where Sir John Scarlett returns the compliment by pointing out the day to day business of the ISG was overseen by Martin Hoard and the DIS.  Although he does admit that he and the JIC were in charge of overseeing the ISG's relationship with the DIS

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: Let's then move on to the inspections with the ISG. Just how much contact did you have with the process with the British and American representatives of the ISG? Is this something that you were involved in?

SIR JOHN SCARLETT: Well, a lot, is the answer. The actual day-to-day conduct of business with the ISG was conducted by something called the Executive Group, which was overseen by the Deputy Chief of Defence Intelligence. So it was, if you like, more on the DIS/MOD side, and that was where the direction of the British contribution to the ISG and personnel was directed from.  But the JIC sort of overall, I as Chairman as the JIC, and I, in particular, as chairman of the JIC sub-group on Iraq WMD which was set up at the beginning of June 2003, had that as part of our specific remit, that we needed to oversee the relationship with the ISG. So I was either in direct contact myself with David Kay, for the rest of 2003, and then Charles Duelfer into 2004, when they came to London, or through VTCs in Baghdad, or I went to visit the ISG in December 2003, when I was in Baghdad, or I was obviously hearing about them because I was receiving reports from DCDI, who either himself went to Baghdad or was conducting the contacts. So there was very regular contact.

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: And what was the expectation during the early months about what they were likely to find and when they would find it?

SIR JOHN SCARLETT: Well, by this stage, I think, speaking for myself, and probably most of my colleagues, one was not in the expectation business. There was a process in place. There was a very heavily resourced process in place, which had taken a bit of time to get going. The ISG didn't really get going until mid to late June, maybe a bit later. Then there was a question of them getting on with it in conditions which were clearly becoming more difficult, and waiting to see what would come through. So the important point, when one looks back at the documentation, one can see this ongoing process being monitored.

As a starting point, there was an assessment on 27 June 2003, which was called the "Emerging picture Iraq WMD". That sort of logged the picture at that moment, which was more or less when the ISG was seriously getting going.

There was one in the middle of July, 16 July, on prohibited missile designs, which looked at more detail of that particular issue. Then there wasn't a further formal JIC assessment until the end of the following year, 23 December 2004, when there was a formal review of JIC judgments in 2002, which took account of the ISG final report which had been issued in October 2004.

But in case anybody thinks that therefore the JIC wasn't looking at it at that time, it certainly was, but it was doing it through the process of reporting from, contact with, monitoring of, participation in, through British representatives, the work of the ISG on the ground. There were regular reports coming in and then being disseminated to Number 10 and to JIC members, and that is how the work of the ISG was tracked.  So the starting point was 27 June, and I can go through the key points, if you want, as to what that said.

THE CHAIRMAN: Let's move on to DIS's work on what we would find when we went in.


SIR RODERIC LYNE: I want to step back in time from where we are at at the moment and just explore what we knew and what we might have known about what we were going to face after the campaign. When you came into your job in DIS in February 2002*3, it was clear that the British forces were going to come in from the south, not the north.

*3 He actually started in February 2003.


SIR RODERIC LYNE: And it became clear, as we got nearer to the conflict, that they were actually going to have to take charge and take responsibility for parts of the southern region around Basra, the four provinces that they eventually controlled.  Were DIS at this point asked to provide intelligence on what they were likely to find in the south when they got in?

MARTIN HOWARD: Yes, we were asked. We self-tasked as well, because it was quite clearly -- it wasn't so much finding intelligence. It was assessing the intelligence. That's really what certainly my side of the DIS did, though the other side of the DIS did collection and that contributed as well. But during the second half of 2002, towards the end of 2002 into early 2003, the DIS did a number of very substantial assessments, some at an excruciating level of detail about infrastructure structure inside Iraq. But two or three stood out for me. There was a very comprehensive assessment of what we would find, particularly, as it were, in terms of a military campaign, called the Road to Baghdad, which laid out how we thought Saddam would approach the conduct of a campaign.

We also did a lot of work on opposition groups inside Iraq. We did a lot of work on SCIRI and the Badr Corps, which was a very relevant issue as far as the south of Iraq was concerned, and the influence that they would have in and around Basra.  We also did one very major piece of work on Basra itself, how the city worked, the people within it. Again, I think that was done before my time, but we did do another one shortly after, a little bit before the conflict started, which very much focused on our very latest understanding of the dynamics that would happen in and around Basra. The then CDI was very keen to be able to give commanders some idea of these are the kind of issues you may have to deal with, with the Badr Corps and so on.  So I think we did a lot, and that fed in, I think, to certainly one JIC paper, again just before my time, and it would have fed into other JIC assessments as well, I guess.

SIR RODERIC LYNE: If I just take as one example the JIC paper of 16 April 2003, which is one that was in the pack of documents listed before this hearing for you, presumably this drew on DIS as well as other product?


SIR RODERIC LYNE: And if I take the key judgments here, there are seven key judgments, but six of them really are in a sense predicting what we might find. Three stand up very well to hindsight. Three of them read rather oddly, with the benefit of hindsight. The very first one:

"Resistance to the Coalition by pro-Saddam forces will increasingly be limited to sporadic and small-scale attacks. Few volunteers will stay to fight."

Then the third one assesses that there is no Iraqi social or political structure which could co-ordinate widespread opposition, and the fifth one gives a slightly reassuring message about Al Qaeda.

As I have said, the other ones which I've not highlighted look actually pretty good. So it's a mixed package.


You've got to give it to Martin Howard he knows how to say "Yes"

SIR RODERIC LYNE: When you look at that, have the JIC reflected the sort of research that existed in DIS, or have they perhaps not drawn as fully on the efforts of DIS as they might have done?

MARTIN HOWARD: I think that this would have drawn adequately on what the DIS had produced. The DIS would have been part of the CIG process [Anyone know what this is?], and my recollection of chairing the CIG myself is that DIS are extremely active members of CIGS and frequently the main contributors.  So no, I don't have a sense that this in any sense is ignoring DIS assessments. The ones, Sir Rod, that you pick out which have proved to be wrong, there was no one in DIS would have at that stage, in April 2003, have dissented from those judgments.

SIR RODERIC LYNE: Now, obviously a lot of this work was done in a rush because the decision that we were actually going join in this operation came fairly late. The decision that we were going to go into the south came much later. The military would like six months' notice. They had about three.
If we had had more time, could we have built up a much better picture of what we were going to face in Iraq after the campaign?

MARTIN HOWARD: Well, of course, that's a classic hypothetical question.  I'm really not sure because it's not as if we only started studying Iraq when we decided where we were going to go in. Iraq had been a high priority for intelligence assessment for years. It would have covered the full range of Iraqi issues, and in particular, work has been done for many years on Iraqi opposition groups. That was certainly the focus in part around what was happening in the south, because Shia opposition in the south was obviously a key part of it, but we would have also looked at the north.  So it's very hard to say with hindsight whether we would have been able to know any more, but we produced certainly a mass of material, even in the short time we had available, and I'm not sure that there would have been a fundamental improvement in what we could have provided if we had had another few months.

SIR RODERIC LYNE: Can I ask about another body of material? This isn't one that we have listed in the documents for you, so I'm not going to go into detail on it.  The Red Teaming exercise in the DIS was set up at the end of February 2003. Can you recall who initiated it and why, and why it came so late in the day?

To the JIC goes Pear
                                            Shaped in Iraq

MARTIN HOWARD: The person who initiated it was the CDI in waiting, Andrew Ridgeway.

Lt Gen. Sir Andrew Ridgway in fancy dress
for his pantomime role as "Lieutenant Governor of Jersey"
presumably his reward for suggesting Red Teams
may be be useful in guessing whether or not there were
Weapons of Mass Destruction

We had the slightly complicated position that when I arrived Joe French, Air Marshall Joe French, was Chief of Defence Intelligence. He had been due to move, I think, at the end of 2002 or early 2003, and Andrew Ridgeway was also being prepared, trained to replace him.  For very good reasons, the CDS of the day decided to ask Joe to stay on for what was clearly going to be a period of hostilities, and therefore Andrew didn't take over when he expected to take over. Being an activist officer, as he is, he actually came up with an idea, why don't I run or set up a Red Team organisation to help with intelligence analysis? So that was the origins of it.  Why wasn't it done earlier? Well, it's hard to say because I wasn't there before February. If I had been there in September 2002, would I have suggested a Red Team? To be honest and frank, I'm not 100 per cent sure I would.

SIR RODERIC LYNE: Was it part of the standard operating procedure or was this a new idea?

MARTIN HOWARD: Well, it's not a new idea. The idea of a Red Team has been around for many years. I think Kennedy used it during the Cuban missile crisis. It wasn't embedded as a way of doing work in DIS. And part of the problem was that people mean different things by Red Teams.

Commander Millington in the Doctor Who story "The Curse of Fenric" is a "true Red Team
That is - someone sat in a room who tries to put themselves in the mind of the opposing leadership
given the same information as that leadership.

In his case creating the same information went as far as
creating a complete physical duplicate of
Hitler's office and Hitler's office furniture

(possibly Commander Millington took this concept a bit far by inviting blood sucking creatures
from the future to kill the entire human race with biological Weapons of Mass Destruction but ...)

A true Red Team is you sit someone in a room, and they literally try and put themselves in the minds of the opposing leadership and get the same information as the leadership, whereas what Red Teams tend to be is just alternative hypotheses. So in that sense it's valuable and helpful to have that question coming from the side.

SIR RODERIC LYNE: And this Red Team was a group of people, two insiders from DIS, but who were not from the teams already working on the subject --

MARTIN HOWARD: That's right.

SIR RODERIC LYNE: -- supplemented by a group of academics and outsiders, and for the reasons of full disclosure, it's important to note that at some of these meetings they included a member of this committee, Sir Lawrence Freedman. They were drawn together by King's College in London.

Inquiry pannel member Sir Lawrence Freedman
has been a Professor of War Studies at Kings College London since 1982
and was actually on the Red Team employed by the DIS to QC their work
Other members of the Red Team also came from Kings College London
Who could they be?

Maybe it would just be simpler if KCL just merged with the MOD
and indeed the CIA
Or was Sir Larwence Freedman on the Red Team?
Convieniently and allowing for there to be no conflicts ...he wasn't?

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: To get this on the record, it was organised through my colleague Michael Clarke.

Professor Michael Clarke at KCL

We dont know much about Professor Michael Clarke
but here's a picture of him at a seminar with General Petraeus
back in 2010 ... no doubt when General Petraeus

was dropping by KCL to see his bit on the side...?

I went to one of the meetings to see what was going on, but that was the limit of my involvement, I should say.

Or was he?

SIR RODERIC LYNE: Your name is first on the first annex to the first report.


Or wasn't he?

SIR RODERIC LYNE: Among the guilty parties, Sir Lawrence. They produced nine reports between 28 February and 18 April, which had some interesting insights in them.


Is this Martin Howard condradicting the Inquiry pannel?
Wow ... this is almost a row...?

SIR RODERIC LYNE: They weren't radically different from what one reads in other papers, but they did come in from different angles. They did stress points that you didn't find elsewhere. 

As I say, I'm not going to go through all the detail, but what's, I suppose, of interest to this Committee is: what impact did this exercise have? How widely were these reports distributed, and did you see it having an impact within the Ministry of Defence and beyond the Ministry of Defence?

MARTIN HOWARD: I dredge my memories back of what happened here.  I think that what tended to happen, as I recall, was, as you said, there was a series of reports generated by the Red Team, and they were fed in, if you like, to the main team or the Blue Team who were doing analysis.

The idea was not that they should say, "Gosh, we are wrong, we need to follow this". It was more to help to test their own judgments, and it seemed to me that the Red Team work was useful. As you say, some of it actually tracked very closely to what the main team were doing otherwise. But the insights were part of the material, part of the information that was flowing into the main assessment team, and they would have taken it into account and, to the extent appropriate, reflected it in the assessments they did.

There wasn't a very, as I recall, systematic process by which we would do an assessment and say, "Let's now test it against the Red Team work". So I think it was influential in that sense, but almost by a process of osmosis, rather than necessarily as a formal exercise.

I think the influence was probably within the DIS. I don't think, to be honest, the Red Team inputs had a huge amount of impact outside the DIS, but I don't recall the detail.

SIR RODERIC LYNE: The rubric, when it was set up, said that they were there to challenge, if appropriate, and to identify areas where more work may be required, and I think that's a fair description of what they did.


SIR RODERIC LYNE: Their reports were distributed to senior levels of the Ministry of Defence, including the Secretary of State's office and the chiefs of staff, copied also to the Foreign Office, DIS for defence and intelligence, head of the Iraq Planning Unit, JIC Chair, and then the distribution varies as you go on. It's not clear that they penetrated all the way through to Number 10. It doesn't appear on the face of them that they are copied to SIS, for example, and it's not clear to what extent they may have been shared with the Americans. They went to the liaison, I think, in Washington.


How many times can Martin say simply "Yes"?

SIR RODERIC LYNE: So it's hard for us to judge, just from looking at these papers, what impact they had, whether they were actually read, and you don't have a recollection.  If they had had a big impact, you probably would recall that because questions would have come back to you about this work.

MARTIN HOWARD: Yes. I think it was -- a huge amount of analysis was going on with the JIC, with the DIS and others. This was another part of it. It was useful.  I don't recall it having massive impact on the work that we did during that period, but I think it raised some interesting points. I think in the end, although it had a senior level distribution list, as you have reminded me, Sir Rod, that the practical impact would have been at the analytical level, rather than necessarily the policy making level.

SIR RODERIC LYNE: If I just pick out one judgment that's made several times in these papers, it is that the Iraqi army was a very respected institution in Iraq that would be very important in the post campaign phase. There are other very perceptive remarks about the opposite, respect held for the Iraqi police, which was corrupt and inefficient. So there are messages there which might have been rather useful, but perhaps got lost in this mass of material.  Let me just move on to my final question, which is a more specific one about the extent to which you felt, with all these people doing all this work, the DIS enjoyed full and timely co-operation with SIS.


Oh ...there's another one.

SIR RODERIC LYNE: How was that relationship working?

MARTIN HOWARD: During my time it was very good. We worked extremely closely with SIS in the immediate run-up to war and during the war.


SIR RODERIC LYNE: Did you feel that they were sharing with you all the [SIS reporting] that they should be sharing with you? If I take one specific example, do you recall the highly classified case4 that started well before you came into the job, [REDACTED] which was about chemical and biological weapons?

MARTIN HOWARD: Yes. I think that did -- [REDACTED] . I don't actually recall seeing any reporting on that. I have a feeling that was the compartmented material that wasn't shown to the DIS analysts at the time of the dossier. I may be wrong.

4 Reporting from this source was withdrawn by SIS in July 2003  Here's a picture from The JIC goes Pear Shaped in Iraq that might help make that a tad clearer...

SIR RODERIC LYNE: I think you are right.

MARTIN HOWARD: I think it is that.  To me -- I don't recall seeing any of that reporting while I was there, but then one of the things I actually complained about when I arrived as DCDI was that the actual amount of raw intelligence I saw was very small. I changed that after a while.  I never felt that SIS were needlessly keeping things back from me or my team, though I know that it was an issue in September 2002.


THE CHAIRMAN: I would like to move on to really just a single question, I think, about the insurgency, not in the south, but in central of Iraq and Baghdad, and how it became apparent that there was something more than Former Regime Elements and dissident Sunnis floating around doing bad things.


Oh ...there's another one.

THE CHAIRMAN: How soon does DIS begin to think that there is something more serious than the ordinary backwash from the invasion itself? How does it develop in time?

MARTIN HOWARD: It's very hard to put specific "gosh" moments to this, but, you know, reminding myself of that period and looking through the JIC assessments that you kindly identified for me to review, I did see it going through a number of phases.  It started with just general disorder and criminality, and with an expectation that some of the residue of people like the Fedayeen ...

Fedayeen means literally "those who sacrifice".  The original Fedayeen were the brainchild of Hassan-i-Sabbah.

...1050s–1124... a Muslim missionary best known for the Capture of Alamut.  Fedayeen are sort of voluntary militant groups.  The Palestinian Fedayeen are probably the best known.   In 1995 Sadam set up his own "Fedayeen Saddam".  There is also an Iranian Fedayeen... or two. By the way to anyone who thinks this website is in bad taste I was interested to discover when researching this page that it is possible to buy one's one Fedayeen Saddam action figures...

...one big forgotten winner from the Iraq war is the lucrative adult war games toys and book industry
in which Britain leads the world.

...and other Saddam regime elements would continue to cause trouble.  Then, I think, against expectations, that solidified. The Former Regime Elements -- again another acronym -- the FRE threat started to increase in the middle of 2003. I think that would be where I would place it.  During most of 2003, I think we weren't clear about the extent to which more jihadist extremists were part of the insurgency. I think we thought there was the potential for that, and I remember some discussions with analysts which said that it seemed likely, given the way events had gone, that Iraq could become, as it were, the theatre of choice for jihadists. And over time, towards the end of 2003 and certainly into 2004, we did see the emergence of what in the end was called AQI, but actually had many names.

THE CHAIRMAN: Was this developing view the changing assessment based on a few critical events or -- you rather implied, I think, that there wasn't a tipping point as such -- or was it simply the general flow of information about attacks and the rest of it?

MARTIN HOWARD: Talking about 2003 and 2004 -- I'm not talking about the Shia, the JAM insurgency, which came a bit later really -- it seemed to me more of a general flow of events and information. It solidified a little bit more when Zarqawi became the key figure as far as the jihadist opposition was concerned.

In that period it seemed to be a general flow, rather than one moment.

THE CHAIRMAN: And how surprising was it that there was a jihadist element, and a growing one indeed, in late 2003/2004? We have had some evidence that it wasn't a surprise at all that AQ should interest itself and find in Zarqawi a vehicle. On the other hand, we have had evidence, including from Tony Blair, that people didn't think that AQ would get in in a big way and change the game.

MARTIN HOWARD: Well, I think that it's very hard to delink this from the general absence of law and order and of structure which emerged in Iraq after the invasion. We haven't come on to aftermath, but in a sense we probably planned for the wrong aftermath in Iraq, and the thing we didn't anticipate was the sort of sheer vacuum that would be there in terms of governance, law and order, arguably made worse by some of the Coalition decisions later that year.  Once it became clear that vacuum was there, and that disorder was going to be an issue, then I think most of us thought that it would be an obvious thing for AQ or people inspired by AQ, because in a sense Al Qaeda never really had full grip of what was going on inside Iraq. They tried, but it was a sort of homegrown thing. That seemed to be fairly obvious that that was going to happen.

THE CHAIRMAN: One thing. We have had evidence from one of our generals that -- this is late 2003 really -- it really took some doing to persuade the Coalition chain of command that there was something more serious than the blowback from the invasion itself, that there was an insurgency developing.

MARTIN HOWARD: That's interesting. Yes.

THE CHAIRMAN: Was your sense, sitting in DIS, that there was a greater awareness developing in the intelligence community, or in the UK broader community, than was being accepted early enough in theatre?

MARTIN HOWARD: I must admit, I don't recognise that picture, Sir John. I went to theatre admittedly mainly for ISG business, but I did talk with the command structure there, and certainly the Americans that I spoke to very clearly were concerned about this what I call a jihadist element.

Andrew Figgures Senior British Military Representative
and Deputy Commanding General, Multinational Force, Iraq
thought the Americans thought insurgency wouldn't happen?

THE CHAIRMAN: Andrew Figgures gave us some evidence that the chain of command in theatre, the US top of the chain of command, there wasn't going to be an insurgency because it wasn't supposed to happen.

MARTIN HOWARD: It's a bit hard to answer a question like that.

THE CHAIRMAN: The question is really: did people's eyes open wide enough soon enough in theatre to the reality of what you and the other elements of the intelligence community were finding?

MARTIN HOWARD: Well, I don't think they did. I go back to what I said earlier. I think we planned for the wrong kind of aftermath. We planned in perfectly good faith, but we weren't quick enough to recognise the aftermath that we were really facing. I say "we" in the very broadest sense. It was that lack of understanding that a vacuum was going to be developing and it would take a long time to resolve it. Once that was understood, I think certainly people in the intelligence community, and I would have thought in the chain of command, would have seen it as pretty likely that that could be filled with some very unsavoury characters.

THE CHAIRMAN: One last point before moving on, and this is the nice relatively quiet situation in the south, apart from a few hideous events.  I'm talking 2003 into 2004 now. Was DIS beginning to pick up or wonder about the possibility of a different kind of insurgency with the Shias in the south? You have done quite a lot of work before the invasion, you've said.

MARTIN HOWARD: Yes. I don't think -- maybe into early 2004, when Muqtada al-Sadr started to become a more prominent figure, [REDACTED].

See Reconstruction goes Pear Shaped in Iraq
and the JIC and MI6 pages for more information than
anyone could want to know about  Muqtada al-Sadr
He's a very naughty boy

But during most of 2003 and 2004 I don't think that was anticipated.  If I could just make one point here though, one of the main things that the DIS concentrated on in the immediate post-war period, and right through to the autumn of 2003, was an attempt to measure consent, both Shia and Sunni consent. We all would recognise that there was going to be a huge problem in maintaining Sunni consent because they were going to be the new dispossessed in Iraq.  We also recognised that loss of Shia consent would have very significant strategic implications, but we didn't see it happening at that point. We just said that this would be an issue.

THE CHAIRMAN: Is it right to say it was conceptually realised that there would be diminishing tolerance of occupying presence, in the south included?

MARTIN HOWARD: Yes. That was our assumption. We just felt that the decline would be slower in the south.

THE CHAIRMAN: Yes. Thank you. Let's move on to the role of our Special Forces.

SIR MARTIN GILBERT: We are going to see you, of course, next month in public to discuss your role as Director General Operations Policy.


Oh ...there's another one.  Actually this 2nd (public) interview is
further down the page ...we put them together for completeness

SIR MARTIN GILBERT: In this session there are a few areas we would like to cover which are not appropriate for public session.


SIR MARTIN GILBERT: First, can you explain to us how the policy and operations of Special Forces interacted, who owned each segment of policy and operations?

For those of you who are a bit rusty, as I was, on what exactly are Britain's Special Forces apart from the SAS.  Here's a picture:

The United Kingdom Special Forces (UKSF) is a UK Ministry of Defence Directorate which also has the capability to provide a Joint Special Operations Task Force Headquarters ...whatever that is. UKSF is commanded by Director Special Forces (DSF), a Major General. 

MARTIN HOWARD: For this campaign?


MARTIN HOWARD: Because this campaign was run slightly differently from how SF is normally handled.  When I arrived as DG Op Pol in May 2004, the general parameters of the SF operation in Iraq had been broadly set and had been in place for some time. Essentially it was integrated in two ways. Firstly, it was integrated into PJHQ management of the British part of the campaign, and it was very closely integrated with US Special Forces.  So in that sense the framework was already there, and the management of Special Forces operations was handled very much in theatre by PJHQ. To the extent that ministers needed to give clearance for particular things, quite often that would actually come up from PJHQ, rather than from me or my SF division that dealt with these things, and that was proper because they were under command of PJHQ.  So I dealt with issues to do with Special Forces which had a particularly either very strong political flavour or were a bit more strategic.


So that was one issue.  The other issue was really how the target set for Special Forces evolved, because again you saw an evolution where the Special Forces operations started out by being very much concentrated on FREs. It then evolved into targeting AQI and the Zarqawi network and so on. Then, very late in my time as DG Op Pol, we did look at [REDACTED].  So there were issues both of rules of engagement, designation of targets, and also issues of resources [REDACTED]. So those sort of issues had to be discussed.

Martin Howard on Special Forces

Yes, this actually is the real Cabinet Office Briefing Room where COBRA meets
(released in response to an FOI request)

SIR MARTIN GILBERT: One more question. We have heard a lot and read a lot about the very high tempo and high involvement of the Special Forces in Iraq, really quite extraordinary activities. Were there difficulties in providing support for them in such a fast moving environment, such an intense activity?

MARTIN HOWARD: Well, I don't recall any particular difficulties, but I'm not sure it would necessarily have come to me. This would have been a force generation issue, and I think PJHQ would probably be in a better position to say if there were -- do you mean logistic support?


MARTIN HOWARD: I think they would be in a better position. I'm not aware of any particular problem.

SIR MARTIN GILBERT: And in terms of the wider policy decisions to make?

MARTIN HOWARD: No, the policy was more or less set when I arrived and continued to executed, with those variations that I talked about.


THE CHAIRMAN: Thanks. We would like to, still in your time as DG Op Pol, move on in this private hearing to the issue of corruption in the Iraqi security services. We will deal with broader aspects of security in the public session.

BARONESS USHA PRASHAR: What I want to understand is what intelligence did you have to help you assess the level of corruption within the Iraqi security forces?

MARTIN HOWARD: I don't think it was just an intelligence issue.  We were sort of dealing with it on a day-to-day basis. The Coalition was intimately involved in training the army, police and others. We were also involved in helping to develop ministries. I supervised a team of advisers inside the Iraqi Ministry of Defence. And those trainers, you know, had to deal with a whole range of issues to do with building up the effectiveness of the Iraqi security forces, and corruption was certainly one of the issues, but it had different manifestations.

BARONESS USHA PRASHAR: That's what we want to concentrate on, because other aspects we'll be talking to you in open. So if you could just focus on the corruption.

MARTIN HOWARD: Well, I think the two things that struck me in relation to corruption was, firstly, problems at the ministerial level, in the ministries. I went to Baghdad several times to talk with our team, and there were, to start with, major problems in the Ministry of Defence about corruption, contracts and so on and so forth. There were major problems actually with counter corruption activities, because at one point the minister basically sacked all of his DGs, or at least suspended them, because of the charge of corruption. Now, they may or may not have been true, but what it did, it took out the whole leadership. So you had this perverse impact of counter corruption activities inside the Ministry of Defence. But over time I think the Ministry of Defence became  [REDACTED] reasonably clean. I think there was much, much more concern around the Ministry of the Interior, and that wasn't just a question of corruption. That was a big element. Also, at one point, the Ministry of the Interior ran Shia militias, death squads. So it's a very, very extreme version of corruption, if I can put it that way, and that was a very real concern that I had.  The other problem about corruption at the more tactical level was particularly with the police. This is not unique to Iraq, I have to say. I never felt that corruption was a huge, huge issue inside the army, though it clearly was there, but it was disabling as far as the Iraqi Police Service was concerned. When you add it into, again, militia links, it meant that in effect for a while the Iraqi Police Services were pretty dysfunctional.

BARONESS USHA PRASHAR: Do you think it was motivated by the militias or just general criminality?

MARTIN HOWARD: I think it's a combination of both. I think there would have been militia links and there would have been general criminality, tribal tensions, the whole range of issues that would have swirled around and would have impacted on police.  It's interesting -- Sir Rod mentioned earlier the fact that the police was hated and distrusted before. Actually, we did recognise that. We actually reached that judgment before the war happened. And that was a big legacy. So you had, if I can use the phrase, a double whammy of both the police being corrupt, and being ineffective and being dysfunctional, and actually the general population thinking this is what we have come to expect anyway.

BARONESS USHA PRASHAR: What about the judiciary?

MARTIN HOWARD: I never really got involved with the judiciary in any detail. The sense I had in my visits and in policy discussions we had was that there were similar issues of corruption there.  It's as much about effectiveness as well though as corruption. Not only were they corrupt, they were ineffective. Sometimes the two things ...

BARONESS USHA PRASHAR: How concerned were you with issues of corruption within the Iraqi security forces before the Jameat incident in September 2005?

MARTIN HOWARD: Well, I think it's as I described. I think we knew it was there. The Jameat thing was a very strong manifestation of it, but I think the concern was already there, and would have been reinforced by that incident.

BARONESS USHA PRASHAR: Did things change after the incident?

MARTIN HOWARD: I think things changed in the sense that we recognised that we had to redouble our efforts to try and do something about the police, and there were various things done. We may cover this in the public session, but we invited Ronnie Flanagan to go and look at it. He's very expert and did a very good report on that.  We took military action against some elements of the police. We tried in the south to build bridges to the council, the governing council, to seek to make changes, and crucially, we tried in Baghdad to get the Ministry of the Interior to grip this, because by that time the Ministry of the Interior was beginning to move out of the dark period it had been into, as I recall. Funnily enough, I went to Iraq many times last year and met Bulani, who was still at the Ministry of the Interior, and it's transformed. It is completely different from how it was in those days.
So there were a number of things that needed to be done.

BARONESS USHA PRASHAR: So what priority did you give to driving corruption out of Iraqi security forces in MND South East?

MARTIN HOWARD: Well, I think that we would have approached it in a slightly different way. The key thing for us was effectiveness. What we were looking for was an effective police force and an effective army. Clearly part of that was driving out corruption, at least to the extent that corruption was, as I say, disabling the function of these organisations. You have to be realistic. We were never going to stamp out corruption entirely, and that was never the aim. The aim was to generate effective police forces which could at least command some respect from the local population, and where corruption was not actually preventing that happening. So I think that would be the way we approached it.

BARONESS USHA PRASHAR: So you were more concerned about capability and competence?

MARTIN HOWARD: Yes. To the extent that corruption was impacting that, we were concerned about it. But our start point, the output we were looking for, was capability and competence, yes.

THE CHAIRMAN: I think this set of exchanges has helpfully brought out that corruption could be seen as too narrow a term to cover the full range of everything from minor peculation and briberies right through to death squads, the militias, disloyalty to the regime.


Oh ...there's another one.

THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you for that.  Lawrence, a few questions which we probably couldn't pursue far enough in public on the US connection.

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: Were there any efforts in theatre where we had to distance ourselves from American tactics and strategy? There were some well-publicised commentaries on American tactics and strategy.

MARTIN HOWARD: As you say, there was various commentary. [REDACTED].

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: And were there any other areas?


SIR RODERIC LYNE: You talked earlier about planning for the wrong kind of aftermath, and lack of understanding that a vacuum was developing. But again, if one reads back some of the papers like the JIC, or indeed the very first Red Team paper, key judgments, the first sentence warns of an internal security vacuum, warns that support for the Coalition would erode rapidly, fertile ground for Al Qaeda. You find similar sentiments in JIC papers at the time, a warning in the April paper I mentioned earlier about popular frustration and resentment growing, giving the opportunity for significant resistance to develop.  How was it that these important messages embedded in the material did not get through to our top decision-makers and get embedded in our planning?

MARTIN HOWARD: They did filter up to the top of the JIC pile.


MARTIN HOWARD: Well, that's very hard to say. The intelligence community, I think, laid this out. I think they spotted the risks of a vacuum early on. I think that the problem in a sense was the inertia of pre-war planning and the mechanisms that had been put in place for dealing with the aftermath, where you had Jay Garner and ORHA deployed, again really to deal with a huge refugee and humanitarian issue, whereas actually probably what you needed was something much more to do with establishing law and order early, trying to establish governance.  The other tension, of course, was that in setting up the Coalition Provisional Authority, I think the Coalition rightly wanted to sort of involve Iraqis from the outset and, as it were, start to build up the seeds of an Iraqi administration. Inevitably the people that tended to be part of that were violently anti-Ba'athist. They were very keen that Ba'athism should be completely removed, and I think that actually did influence some decisions that were made in the middle of 2004 about the Iraqi bureaucracy, about the army, which I think with hindsight were probably the wrong decisions. But there was very strong political pressure from the people who ultimately were going to be part of the government.  So I don't think that people ignored the threat, but there were other issues which were influencing policy makers, and of course most of the policy making was being done in Washington.

THE CHAIRMAN: Martin, we have got the public session to come, but is there anything, while we are still in this private session, that you would like to say a word about?

MARTIN HOWARD: I'm just looking at the questions you have sent to me, to see if there was anything that I thought was important.  No, I don't think so. We've covered the ISG, which was, I think, probably the key thing.  Could I just say something about UK/US relations in the intelligence field, which was on your list?


THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you. Just now you referred to the mistakes made in some of the decisions made. I think you said 2004, but we were talking about --

MARTIN HOWARD: I'm sorry, 2005.

THE CHAIRMAN: You mentioned some documents in responding to Rod Lyne earlier. We'll follow those up. I don't know whether we've got them actually at the moment.  I think, with that, looking forward to your next appearance, I'll say thank you very much indeed, close the session, and remind you that the document has got to be looked at here, but at your convenience.

MARTIN HOWARD: I'm next here actually for the public hearing, so maybe I could do it that morning, 6 July.

THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you very much.

Martin Howard was also interviewed on the 6th of July - this time in public

THE CHAIRMAN: Good afternoon and welcome.  Our fist witness this afternoon is Martin Howard -- welcome -- who was the Director General of Operational Policy at the Ministry of Defence from May 2004 to August 2007. This session will look at the conduct of the campaign during this period and most specifically focusing on security sector reform and the implications of the increased commitment to Afghanistan on operations in Iraq.  We expect the session should last about two hours.  Later this afternoon, we shall be hearing from the Rt Hon Bob Ainsworth in his roles as a Minister of State for the armed forces and then as the Secretary of State for Defence.  Now, as I say on every occasion, we recognise that  witnesses are giving evidence based on their recollection of events and we, of course, check what we hear against the papers to which we have access and which we are still receiving.  I remind each witness on each occasion that they will later be asked to sign a transcript of the evidence to the effect that the evidence given is truthful, fair and accurate.  With that said, I'll ask Sir Martin Gilbert to open the questions.

SIR MARTIN GILBERT: We have seen you today in your role as Director General of Operational Policy in the MoD and I wonder if you could start by explaining to us what that role entailed.

MARTIN HOWARD: Well, my role was to provide -- or to help provide the political and policy context for the conduct of military operations, both at home and overseas. I also had a particular policy responsibility for the Ministry of Defence contribution to the wider counter-terrorism campaign and, as very much a secondary  responsibility, I had some responsibilities for bilateral defence relations with Latin America and East Asia, but that was very much a secondary responsibility.

SIR MARTIN GILBERT: To whom did you report?

MARTIN HOWARD: I reported to what was then the Deputy Chief of Defence Staff (Commitments) and is now the Deputy Chief of Defence Staff (Operations), a three-star military officer. It was General Rob Fry when I started ...

and it was Admiral Charles Style ...

Vice Admiral Charles Style
was forced to resign as
Deputy Chief of the Defence Staff (Commitments) in 2007
when 15 Royal Navy personnel were captured
by Iranian Revolutionary Guards
.  He is now
Commandant of the Royal College of Defence Studies

....by the time I left.

UK forces supported the Iraqi General Mohan in Basra who commanded using a mobile phone...

Vice Admiral Charles Style talks about exactly how many military operations the British Armed Forces are designed to undertake and sustain at any one time and how running the Afghanistan and Iraq operations in parallel caused some resourcing issues (see the original Pear Shaped Iraq_Enquiry_Enquiry Page 1).

SIR MARTIN GILBERT: In terms of your overall areas of involvement, what degree of your time was spent specifically with regard to Iraq?

MARTIN HOWARD: I think it is very hard to put an exact percentage on it, but I would have said, during that period, between 2004 to 2007, I would estimate 40 to 50 per cent of my time, perhaps nearer 40 per cent of my time on Iraq, but that's very much a guesstimate rather than a precise figure.

SIR MARTIN GILBERT: How did you prioritise Iraq with regard to your other commitments?

MARTIN HOWARD: Iraq was always the top priority during the majority of that period. Towards the end of the period, as Afghanistan became more of a live operational policy issue, it moved to being a close second and perhaps by the time I left it was almost level in terms of priority.

SIR MARTIN GILBERT: Within Iraq, how did you prioritise -- what were the sort of priorities in Iraq?

MARTIN HOWARD: Well, it seemed to me that my first job was to try to contribute to the overall HMG strategy towards Iraq. So I tried to bring a forward-looking strategic planning approach to the campaign in Iraq, not just concentrated in MND South East in Basra and the surrounding provinces, but also more broadly, because, obviously, issues -- political and military issues in Baghdad had a major impact on the campaign.  I took some responsibility for managing the contributions that we were making to support the Ministry of Defence in Iraq. I had a team led by a British senior civilian operating inside the Iraqi MoD in Baghdad, which I -- I didn't quite manage that, and latterly, I took on responsibility, under the auspices of the Iraq Strategy Group, to provide overall co-ordination of our security sector reform effort.

SIR MARTIN GILBERT: In terms of these policies, how were the priorities agreed among them? What was the process?

MARTIN HOWARD: I think collectively the priorities were set through DOP(I), the Cabinet Committee which oversaw Iraq, and then, below that, the Iraq Strategy Group chaired by Nigel Sheinwald, the Iraq Senior Officials Group, chaired by Margaret Aldred from time to time, and there were also -- a certain amount of direction came from weekly meetings with the Chiefs of Staff, but I think the central mechanism for setting overall priorities for setting the direction of a campaign was underneath DOP(I) and in the Iraq Strategy Group.  There was a variation later on in -- from around about the end of 2005, when a ministerial meeting was set up which was jointly chaired by Secretary of State for Defence and the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs -- I think they alternated in chairmanship -- to manage, as it were, the more day-to-day policy issues that were coming up, rather than the big strategic decisions which DOP(I) tended to concentrate on.


THE CHAIRMAN: Sir Roderic?

SIR RODERIC LYNE: When you took up this post in May 2004, for which aspects of security sector reform was the MoD responsible and what were its priorities in that area?

MARTIN HOWARD: At that time, the MoD was responsible for the building up of the 10th Division of the -- what
became the 10th Division of the Iraqi national army, which was based in the MND South East area.  We also -- as I said to Sir Martin, we had a responsibility for leading a Multi National team to help develop and mentor the Iraqi Ministry of Defence in Baghdad and, from the outset, though this wasn't controlled by the Ministry of Defence at that time, a number of police advisers were also deployed into Iraq both in Baghdad and in Basra, but those, as I say, were not a direct MoD responsibility at the time.

SIR RODERIC LYNE: So which other parts of Whitehall were dealing with other aspects of security sector reform, including the police?

MARTIN HOWARD: The police development was primarily led by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. The area of, if you like, judicial development of the Ministry of the Interior, the idea of a -- and the Ministry of Justice -- I think that responsibility was rather more diffuse. DFID had some responsibilities there.

I think the Home Office were also providing some assistance and, indeed, the Ministry of Defence did provide some military people to work inside the Ministry of the Interior primarily because it created -- it represented some very specific security challenges and it was easier to deploy some military people inside the MoI.

SIR RODERIC LYNE: Did we have an overall strategy for this work?

MARTIN HOWARD: Well, I think that the -- the strategy, I think, evolved over time. I'm not sure I can recall ever seeing a strategy written down which said "This is HMG's approach to security sector reform" but what I observed was a very strong focus on the Iraqi army at the outset and then an increasing sense that the development of police was also important and, as I said, that really started to come together towards the end of 2005, when the Secretary of State for Defence was asked to take over responsibility for security sector reform and, as part of that, for what it is worth, I chaired a cross-Whitehall group, which again tried to, at a more
working level, provide the co-ordination necessary for that.

SIR RODERIC LYNE: Given the spread at this stage, before, as you say, the Secretary of State for Defence, in late 2005, takes over the lead across the piece, how, in 2004, was the approach co-ordinated?

MARTIN HOWARD: The co-ordination would have taken place inside the Iraq Strategy Group or the Iraq Senior Officials Group at the working level. All the relevant people were around the table. I was around the table, my boss was around the table and, of course, the Foreign Office were represented there as well and, indeed, other relevant departments, including DFID. So there was an opportunity to bring it together in that forum.

Martin Howard on Funding

THE CHAIRMAN: Sir Lawrence, over to you.

Martin Howard on Coalition Strategy

MARTIN HOWARD: I think in terms of the resources that were devoted to security sector reform, certainly in the
period 2004 to 2006, I think the military sort of was overwhelmingly the major supplier of resources, but we did actually appoint a succession of police advisers, both in Baghdad and Basra, and the Foreign Office also provided a number of police trainers, particularly in MND South East, both civilian policemen and also
contractors from firms like Armorgroup.

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: We will be coming on a bit more to the police role.  Just one question on the focus of our efforts, which is sort of a general question, I think, for all UK strategy, which is the question of whether or not we were focused on Basra, on the south, or trying to make our impact on Baghdad and more generally.  Which would you say was our main preoccupation?

MARTIN HOWARD: Well, I have to say I think they were both preoccupations. The discussions that we had at strategic level in the Iraq Strategy Group were as much about the overall security situation and the overall development of the Iraqi security forces across the country as they were about the specific things we were doing in Basra.  Part of the reason was, I think, an early recognition that the security centre of gravity was always going to be Baghdad and that, therefore, it would be wrong for us purely to focus on MND South East.  Of course, the actual resources we committed were much heavier in MND South East because we had a particular responsibility there, but in terms of our policy deliberations, it seems to me that we looked at both areas fairly equally, though that varied over the period that I was in my post.

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: Did that create tensions in terms of how you'd prioritise, whether the resources were going to the right place?

MARTIN HOWARD: I don't think it did create too many tensions because, as I say, I don't think there was any dispute over the fact that the physical resources we were devoting to this were going to be concentrated in MND South East in terms of numbers and money, but the policy work we were doing and the small amounts of human resources that we were devoting in Baghdad were -- there wasn't a problem in generating those as well as the resources we were generating in MND South East.  I do recall one particular issue about where -- the best place to position our Senior Police Adviser, whether it was better to have him in Baghdad or in Basra, but that was a little later on, but it was that kind of level that we would have debates.

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: But that sort of debate would reflect a broader question about what was going on in the --


SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: What about responsibility for implementation of the policy? What was sort of the -- how was it transmitted through and who was responsible within Iraq for making sure it happened?

MARTIN HOWARD: Well, then I think there would have been a difference here between what was happening at the national level in Baghdad and what was happening in MND South East. The responsibility in MND South East for, as it were, implementation of security sector reform was shared between the GOC and the Consul General at the time. I think, increasingly, because it had -- it was a very demanding security environment or became a more demanding security environment, the GOC continued to become the more dominant figure but, of course, that was all done in consultation with the Consul General, and I think that was reflected in the fact that, in 2006, the senior police adviser moved from sitting with the Consul General to sitting with the GOC, and that made very practical sense at the time.

The Consul General (about whom you can read more in Reconstruction Goes Pear Shaped in Iraq) at this time was James Tansley - now a Conservative County Conuncillor ...

...who's picture appeared on this blog when local rumours started to spread that he was some kind of spy.  Mr Tansley obviously enjoyed this attention enormously because his brother went on to mock up a picture of him as James Bond and post it on the internet.

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Our recent by-election victor in Tunbridge Wells East is James Tansley.  James is a former diplomat and served, amongst other postings, as UK Rep in Southern Iraq.  During the campaign a rumour circulated that he was an MI6 agent. I raised this with James who strongly denied the internet-based rumours but added, "there's little point denying it as no-one will believe the denial anyway". His subsequent comment, "and if anyone wants to confirm that I wasn't a spy I suggest they phone the MI6 Press office!" did little to convince me!

James has just sent me this marvellous mock-up of a James Bond poster, produced by his brother, which he has given me permission to publish on my blog!  For the sake of those who don't know, his LibDem opponent was called Dave Neve!

Now James, do you really think this will dampen the rumours?

So much for the secret sessions... 

The GOC to who the PoPo powers went was Lieutenant General Sir Richard Shirreff, General Officer Commanding Multi-National Division South East, July 2006 – Jan 2007

who's still at NATO
We covered his evidence back on Page1e 1

I think in Baghdad we tended to work through the coalition structures. The team we had in the Ministry of Defence had a direct line through to the commander of MNSTC-I, if I can use that phrase again, but he also had a -- if you like, a pastoral responsibility to me back in London. I would go out and visit him from time to time and check on the general health and wellbeing of the team, but the tasking was through MNSTC-I, obviously consulting many other people, the British Embassy, the British Deputy Commander and so on.

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: What role were the MoD civilians then playing within Iraq?

MARTIN HOWARD: Their job in the Baghdad Ministry of Defence -- I'm assuming you are talking about that rather than --

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: I'm just interested generally. I'm assuming that the Baghdad Ministry of Defence was a key part of their job.

MARTIN HOWARD: Yes. There were quite a few MoD civil servants in Basra and elsewhere acting as command secretaries, but if you are talking about security sector reform --

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: The main thrust was --

MARTIN HOWARD: The job they had was to provide advice and mentoring to officials in the Iraqi Ministry of Defence, and that sounds very easy. In fact, it was an extremely challenging job, particularly in 2003 and 2004, when there were very few officials and in the early days some of the basic functions of the Ministry of Defence, things like contracting, personnel management and so on, were almost being done directly by the team which my Ministry of Defence civilian headed up, which I have to say was multinational. Although it was headed by a British civil servant and it had other British civil servants there, there were other nationalities, Australians, Italians and Americans working within that team. Over time, they moved more into a mentoring and training role, but in a sense it was similar in principle to the kind of things that we did in the early 1990s to help develop democratically accountable Ministries of Defence in eastern Europe, just in a much, much more demanding operational environment, as you can imagine.

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: Just finally in the scene setting.  You have mentioned the police already and the police contractors. How would you describe their particular role?

MARTIN HOWARD: Well, the first role of the police that we deployed, and the police contractors, was again a generation of policing. Again, the requirement was for numbers, for people who could provide law and order.  I have to say it was part of a much, much bigger US operation which was very contractor-heavy. In that sense, it was sometimes, I think, a little difficult to work out exactly where the British contribution could be of most value. In the end, it settled around providing some advice, as we have senior police input in Baghdad and actually conducting the training down in the police training college -- I think it was in Shaibah, in MND South East.



BARONESS USHA PRASHAR: Mr Howard, I would like to explore the co-ordination between London and Iraq. How were you being kept informed of progress in theatre?

MARTIN HOWARD: We had weekly meetings of the Chiefs of Staff, of course, in fact rather more than weekly at one point, in fact, and progress on the development of the Iraqi security forces would form part of that.  We would also have progress reports given to the Iraq Strategy Group and the Iraq Senior Officials Group and, later on, when I was given the responsibility to co-ordinate SSR more closely at a level below the Iraq Strategy Group, we had progress reports. We met roughly every six weeks or two months and we would get progress reports in each area.  In addition to that, of course, I had direct contact with my team in the Iraqi Ministry of Defence. I would speak to them reasonably regularly, but not to try to interfere too much from several thousand miles away with what they were doing. So it was a variety of means that we received information, but those are the main ones.

BARONESS USHA PRASHAR: But who in Whitehall was holding those in theatre accountable?

MARTIN HOWARD: Could you say that again? Sorry.

BARONESS USHA PRASHAR: Who in Whitehall was holding those in theatre accountable? How did the accountability lines work?

MARTIN HOWARD: They did vary, depending on which part of the security sector reform picture we are looking at.  Of course, the training that we were giving to the Iraqi national army, the accountability was in the Ministry of Defence and ultimately to the Secretary of State. For the police, departmental responsibility was with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. But, as I said, at the end of 2005, the then Secretary of State for Defence was given a particular role to co-ordinate that. So that's at the top level, that's where it came, and of course all that ultimately was elevated to Cabinet level through DOP(I).

BARONESS USHA PRASHAR: Was it an effective arrangement? Did you think it was effective? Did it work?

MARTIN HOWARD: I think it became progressively more effective. I think the decisions at the end of 2005 to place a single minister in charge of security sector reform efforts, you know, made sense, given the challenges to be faced.  I found that being able to chair a group which dealt with -- which had all the Whitehall representatives on it, plus ACPO, plus representatives in PJHQ and others was also very useful. So I think it got progressively better.

THE CHAIRMAN: I would like to ask a few questions about the tensions and balance between, on the one hand, the coalition's responsibility to provide and maintain security; on the other, the need to press forward with
security sector reform and Iraqi-isation of security in an evolving -- to put it politely -- security situation.  It wasn't getting any better.  Looking first at the time you took up your post in May 2004, timescales were already in existence, weren't they, for the handover to Iraqi security forces?  Can you remind us roughly what those were at the time?

MARTIN HOWARD: Well, I think those timescales were fairly rudimentary, I have to say, at that time. I do remember writing some policy pieces which suggested that we could be handing over in 2005 and 2006.  At that stage, in 2004, as I recall, the concept of provincial Iraqi control, the so-called PIC process, hadn't really been fully developed. That came later and, in the end, the process of transfer happened a little later than we anticipated in 2004.

THE CHAIRMAN: There had been, right from the beginning, a coalition policy of fairly rapid troop drawdown in the expectation that Iraqi security would be given effect by the Iraqi security forces; that was pushed back and back in time. Now, was that principally because of a declining security situation or because the Iraqi-isation process itself was taking longer than people expected?

MARTIN HOWARD: I think it is a combination of both and one feeds into the other, to be frank. I think it turned out to be harder to generate effective Iraqi security forces than perhaps we anticipated and, of course, we were starting perhaps from a much lower base than we originally anticipated when we entered Iraq in the spring of 2003.  I do think that the fact that we didn't move as quickly as perhaps we could have done to build up those institutional frameworks contributed to the fact that it took some time to build up the effectiveness of the Iraqi security forces.

THE CHAIRMAN: Institutional being sort of, what, ministries, training places?

MARTIN HOWARD: Ministries, that's right, and other things like logistic support for the Iraqi army and intelligence support. So there was more to it than just the ministries, but that was, if you like, one example of that.   The security situation, of course, had a major impact, because the security tasks became progressively more demanding and, in 2006, in particular, the rise of sectarian violence created a whole new set of potential security problems which not only needed to be dealt with in their own right, but actually impacted directly on the performance of the Iraqi security forces themselves.

THE CHAIRMAN: The process of Iraqi-isation, both in the new Iraqi army and in the Iraqi police services was proceeding at different rates and those rates in turn were being, as it were, affected -- impacted on by the security situation as it deteriorated.


THE CHAIRMAN: Where was the key judgment being made about when you could actually effect transition? Was it essentially a theatre-based set of judgments or was it people like yourself in London and others in Washington?

MARTIN HOWARD: It was a combination of both. Obviously, the basic data to reach decisions on handing over
responsibility to the Iraqis had to come from theatre, through the chain of command. But equally, there was a high-level, strategic, political element to that judgment, because it was -- not least because it was a multinational operation.  Just to take a specific example, the very first province that was handed over to Iraqi control was Muthanna, where the main battle group providing support was a Japanese battle group supported by Australians.

The Japanese Iraq Reconstruction and Support Group was a battalion-sized, largely humanitarian contingent of the Japan Self-Defense Forces that was sent to Samawah, Southern Iraq in early January 2004 and withdrawn by late July 2006.  The first foreign deployment of Japanese troops since the end of World War II, excluding those deployments conducted under United Nations auspices.

Their duties had included tasks such as water purification, reconstruction and reestablishment of public facilities for the Iraqi people.  In order to legalize the deployment of Japanese forces in Samawah, the Koizumi administration legislated a special law - the Humanitarian Relief and Iraqi Reconstruction Special Measures Law on December 9, 2003 in the Diet.  The opposition firmly opposed it.  As, unsurprisingly, did
Al Zarqawi

The military advice about whether that province could be handed over was becoming increasingly clear-cut that that was feasible, it was a fairly peaceful part of Iraq, but there were, of course, political implications to deciding exactly when the Japanese battalion should leave and that involved a lot of high-level discussions between -- well, high-level if you count me as high-level -- between myself, the Japanese, the Australians and the Americans to ensure that this decision not only made sense from a military point of view, it made sense from a political point of view as well.

THE CHAIRMAN: Was that process in part conducted between capitals and defence ministries?


THE CHAIRMAN: A couple of other points then. The first is: focusing on MND South East, where we had a whole series of planned drawdown targets and eventually, in 2005/2006 onwards, a rapidly and perhaps partly unexpectedly deteriorating security situation, what effect did that have on planned force levels, UK force levels as well as coalition in the southeast?

MARTIN HOWARD: Obviously, the delay in transitions in MND South East had an impact on that, but it is worth saying that of the four provinces, in the case of Muthanna had very little impact on UK force levels, because of course the forces were primarily provided by Japan and Australia. And the same in Dhi Qar, when that was transitioned, most of the forces were being provided by Italy. The main UK reduction happened when we were able to transition in Maysan, which happened, I guess, some six to nine months later than we were perhaps originally planning.  So that would have had an impact, and then of course there was the whole series of decisions about drawdown from Basra, which I can either deal with now or you may wish to deal with later.

THE CHAIRMAN: We have taken a great deal of evidence already, so for now I would just like to focus on one other point. It is really whether, particularly in southern Iraq, but also more generally across the whole country, in your time as DG of Operational Policy, there was a sense that we had a sufficient presence, be it military predominantly, but be it also Iraqi-ised police and other services like the civil guard, or whatever it was called. Was the scale of the provision of security in proportion to the rising scale of the threat against it?

MARTIN HOWARD: I think that's quite a hard question to answer authoritatively. We basically worked around the idea that the coalition would have one or two battle groups in each province in MND South East. Now, each battle group, anything from 800 to 1,000 people, compared with, say, the population of Basra City, of course is very tiny. So there was never a question that those forces could provide the totality of a security response. That had to be primarily Iraqi. My sense during that period was not so much a problem of numbers of Iraqi security forces, but the fact that they had become -- in some areas they had become criminalised. There were tribal issues, there were sectarian issues, though perhaps those were less strong in MND South East than they were elsewhere in Iraq. So the difficulty was not to try to replace that large group of Iraqi security forces, but to get them back on to an effective footing so that they could actually provide security. So I think we were always working on that basis, we were building up Iraqi capacity rather than thinking we could flood Basra, with, for example, lots of British troops.  I mean, the other angle to this -- and I know that you have heard evidence on this from others -- is that, of course, certainly in the latter part of my time there, the coalition troops became the target of the violence. So in a sense, it made it doubly difficult for them to provide the security.

THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you. I'll pass the questions to Sir Martin.

SIR MARTIN GILBERT: I would like to ask the Iraqi Civil Defence Corps which was created, I think, in September 2003, very much as an emergency security force in the absence of an effective police force. Could you say something about how the ICDC was developed and particularly the role of the Ministry of Defence in the development?

MARTIN HOWARD: Well, to be honest, Sir Martin, I don't think I can say very much about it. That process happened largely before I arrived. By the time I arrived, as DG Op Pol and by the time we were focusing on the big policy issues around security sector reform, we were thinking much more in terms of the development of the army in direct development to the police.

THE CHAIRMAN: Slower, please.

MARTIN HOWARD: Sorry. We were focusing much more on the development of the army and the development of the police and, in a sense, the Civil Defence Corps became absorbed into that. I'm sorry I can't help you more than that.

SIR MARTIN GILBERT: My next question was "What became of it?" so absorbed into the national army. So my next question is actually about the army and again, essentially, what was the Ministry of Defence role in its creation, the Iraqi national army? That was very much in your time, I believe.

MARTIN HOWARD: The process had, of course, started by the time I arrived. I think it would have been the coalition that started to build up the army and we, as being responsible for MND South East, were given a particular part of the army, as I've already mentioned, the 10th Division, to develop.  We were working within a coalition approach to building up the army, which was being directed through MNSTC-I. The Ministry of Defence part of it was originally being directed through the US State Department, but responsibility for that moved, I think, in late 2004/early 2005 from the State Department into MNSTC-I.

SIR MARTIN GILBERT: How did the MoD seek to ensure that the Iraqi security forces and MND South East had the right equipment? How successful were you in providing what was needed?

MARTIN HOWARD: Well, part of the equipment programme again was a coalition effort. So we were, as it were, contributing to that overall effort but, as I recall, we did take a number of opportunities in 2004 and 2005 to find extra money to buy particular pieces of equipment.  Ican't remember the exact amounts. The figure of one tranche of about ú20 million, I seem to recall, and I think there was a second one of around about the same
amount, to provide additional equipment to help speed up the development of the Iraqi security forces.

SIR MARTIN GILBERT: In terms of security sector reform, how are the various strands prioritised during your time?

MARTIN HOWARD: Well, I think they were prioritised at a very strategic level, through the workings of the Iraq
Strategy Group. Later on, we established a cross-Whitehall group, which I was asked to chair, and that did, I think, some work in helping prioritise. One interesting point that emerged in part from the work of that group and in part from the findings of Sir Ronnie Flanagan, was the way that we prioritised the development of law and order institutions in Basra as part of the so-called Better Basra programme.  I think there was a recognition that, to put it crudely, the army was on track more or less. The police were less so but perhaps becoming more on track -- and here I'm talking about the beginning of the 2006, the middle of 2006 -- but that actually perhaps the biggest gap was in the sort of law and order institutions -- and here I'm talking about local ones in Basra.


THE CHAIRMAN: Right. Sir Roderic, over to you.

SIR RODERIC LYNE: I would like to look more specifically at the MoD's involvement in policing before the change in responsibilities which happened after the Jameat incident of September 2005. We will come on to that a bit later on, but pre-September 2005, precisely how would you define MoD's role within the strategy for delivering police reform?

MARTIN HOWARD: I think the main thing that the Ministry of Defence did was really -- two things: firstly, to try to provide support through military means for the training of police, but trying to do it under police direction, and so my recollection is that we made some use of Royal Military Police, for example, to help in building up police capacity in MND South East

The other thing that the Ministry of Defence did was deploy a number of Ministry of Defence police as part of the policing effort, but very much under the auspices, the departmental responsibility, of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, who had responsibility. So in that sense we were a force provider, and the Ministry of Defence police was quite well placed to provide actually quite a large number -- I can't remember the exact number but, by police standards, it was a fairly substantial number of individuals to help train the Iraqi police.  So prior to that changing towards the end of 2005, that would have been my major role.

SIR RODERIC LYNE: So aside from the RMP, the army were not themselves directly providing training or mentoring to the Iraqi police?

MARTIN HOWARD: That's a good question. I'm not sure I could say absolutely that was the case. I suspect that, given the urgency of the security requirement, I'm pretty sure that the local -- that GOC MND South East would have made use of whatever resources he had available. So he may well have made use of some army assets to help at least provide some of the military skills that the Iraqi police were inevitably going to need in the security environment we were operating inside, inside MND South East and inside Basra, but the policing skills really had to come from the police, be that civil police, civil police contractors, Ministry of Defence police, and then, to some extent, the Royal Military Police.

SIR RODERIC LYNE: So this involvement of the army would be perhaps filling two gaps? One is not enough civilian police advisers and instructors out there, and one would be that what you needed for an Iraqi policeman went beyond our normal definition of a civilian policeman, because it needed actually to have a military or, as has been frequently said in our sessions, a Carabinieri type paramilitary dimension to it?

MARTIN HOWARD: I think it is more the second than the first. Definitely, the second would have been the case.
The extent to which the GOC and the chief police adviser used non-RMP military assets to fill more traditional policing roles and policing training roles is not so clear to me.

SIR RODERIC LYNE: It sounds all like a rather sort of ad hoc -- maybe even Heath Robinson -- arrangement for achieving the target. Is that how it felt to you at the Whitehall end?

MARTIN HOWARD: I think it was very challenging. I don't think I would describe it as "Heath Robinson". There was an element of ad hoc-ery -- if there is such a word -- to this, but I think that reflected the fact that we were faced with a fast-moving security situation which required urgent action and that requires flexibility and adaptability. So perhaps that's how I would describe it, rather than being "Heath Robinson".   I think that when we started to bring things together a little bit more towards the end of 2005, I think we brought more coherence to it. But one point I should stress, I think, is that experiences in the Balkans and Iraq, and also the experiences that we currently have in Afghanistan, I think make it clear that it is intrinsically more difficult to help train an indigenous police force than it is to train an indigenous army. You have a double problem.  One is that the police themselves have to operate with the local population and are, therefore, that much more susceptible to corruption, to intimidation. So we have the problem on that side and, on the other side of the equation, it is harder for any country, whether it is the United Kingdom or anything else, to generate deployable police trainers than it is to deploy army trainers. I think there is an intrinsic problem there --

SIR RODERIC LYNE: It is harder because ...?

MARTIN HOWARD: I think if you take the situation in the United Kingdom, the police force is a series of Chief Constabularies, all of whom have their responsibilities. There is no one who can order a Chief Constable to send a group of policemen to a theatre like that.  Funnily enough, the Ministry of Defence police are one of the few forces where you could almost do that. Secondly, if you are deploying into an operational theatre, there is a security overhead which goes with that in terms of movement, protection. By definition, an army unit has already got that. It is sort of part of what happens. That's harder with the police.  The exception -- and you have already mentioned it, Sir Roderic -- are forces like the French Gendarmerie, the Italian Carabinieri, who are more deployable and which were -- certainly the Italian Carabinieri were used extensively in Iraq.

SIR RODERIC LYNE: You said that the principal role of the military at this stage in this area was to support civilian police trainers. Was it actually difficult to co-ordinate the military and the civilian in theatre because they had different rules of engagement, different duty of care provisions, and also because the military were a much more powerful outfit there and, therefore, if you had a question of how you prioritised resources, they would have the power of decision rather than the civilians.

MARTIN HOWARD: No, I think there were genuine problems there. I don't think there were problems with the rules of engagement particularly, but certainly there were issues about the levels of protection. Civilian policemen were deployed into Iraq with a level of protection which was set by the Foreign Office, but also strongly supported by ACPO. That, therefore, created demands on those who were providing security -- that's the military -- and I think that generated logistical problems. It may have generated some tensions on the ground as well, but that was certainly an issue. I think that co-ordination improved when, as I said, the chief police adviser in MND South East was co-located with the GOC. That, I think, was the right decisions to take and that made life -- that simple move of location made life easier.


THE CHAIRMAN: Let's take a break for about ten minutes and then we will resume. Thank you.


(2.20 pm)

(2.35 pm)

THE CHAIRMAN: Sir Lawrence, over to you.

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: I want to talk about corruption in the Iraqi police force. We have already had one mention of this incident in September 2005, two UK service personnel were arrested by the Iraqi police service and taken to the Jameat police station. The personnel were rescued but the event publicly highlighted the extent of corruption within the Iraqi police. How aware were you of that as an issue, the problems of corruption and infiltration within the Iraqi police?

MARTIN HOWARD: I think we were aware of it as a problem in general. I think that incident brought it home to us that it had become very deep-seated and had moved from, if you like, casual corruption into something much, much more malign.  When I think about corruption in the police force, one can think about a certain amount of, as I have described it, as casual corruption at the lower levels.

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: By "casual corruption" you mean just people supplementing their income by taking bribes?

MARTIN HOWARD: Yes, and you have to be realistic. It is not always easy to stamp all levels of corruption out of a force like that.  But this level of corruption was actually -- it was disabling the police force. The police force was not able to operate effectively and it had gone almost beyond corruption into, you know, really quite high-level criminality linked to adherence to militias and so on.  So I think that we were certainly aware that there was a problem. This demonstrated that it was in certain parts of the police, in MND South East, in Basra, it was very deep-seated and it was a strategic issue which had to be dealt with.

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: Just again to try and get a measure of extent of the problem, we have been told about death squads and torture dens being operated by militias, those who had infiltrated the police. How widespread was this? What sort of practices are we talking about? Are we talking about this sort of very deep corruption?

MARTIN HOWARD: It is very hard to say precisely how widespread it is, because it doesn't take very many people to be involved in this sort of activity for it to have a major impact. But certainly in Baghdad and in some of the provinces around there, I think there was a real issue about some parts of the police service, or people associated with the police service, really pursuing a very violent sectarian anti-Sunni agenda.  Of course, it was rather different in MND South East, there wasn't that sectarian tension that we saw in Baghdad. A lot of it was to do with tribal rivalries and also an increasing hostility to the coalition presence, driven in turn by criminality. I think it would be wrong to say that the whole of the police force was in this state. I think it was certain elements within the police force, the Serious Crimes Unit and others, which really had become centres of this deep corruption, but I don't think it was necessarily widespread across the whole police.

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: Just to give us sort of the measure of it, how would you say it compared with the experience with the Iraqi army?

MARTIN HOWARD: I think corruption in the Iraqi army was significantly less than it was in the police.

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: So it was a difference of magnitude of problem?

MARTIN HOWARD: I think that would probably be right, yes.

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: So you have indicated that you were aware of the problem before the Jameat incident. What were you doing before then to address it?

MARTIN HOWARD: Well, I think we were doing two things. Firstly, we were doing our best in the direct provision of training to the Iraqi police in Basra and trying to make that effective -- trying to instil the idea of an accountable police force that, you know, provided services for the population, but of course, that in itself was not enough. In the end, dealing with that -- what I described as deep corruption -- really had to be dealt with by the Iraqi authorities, and the other approach we took, at the senior political level, was continuing efforts to talk to the Iraqi Government in Baghdad, for them to take the necessary action to try to resolve this issue in MND South East, recognising that they also had problems of corruption elsewhere in the police service in other parts of Iraq.

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: Presumably, that was also the policy you followed after the incident?





MARTIN HOWARD: I think more so, yes, definitely.

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: One of the difficulties with this is obviously getting an accurate diagnosis of the problem and where it had come from, and you mentioned the differences between Baghdad and Basra and suggested that there was something more tribal in the situation in Basra. Where do you think this problem did come from?

MARTIN HOWARD: Well, I think that we were operating in an area where tribal loyalties had always been very strong, that, under Saddam Hussein, had probably been largely ignored, and that the Basrawis were, in a sense, used to looking after their own affairs and operating through tribal structures and managing things in a way which looks very alien to western police forces, and I think that underlying way of handling disputes, that underlying way of settling rivalries, in the end moved into the police force as it was re-established inside Basra.  It is very hard for me to be more precise than that because, like many other things in Iraq, it was an evolving situation. It was quite opaque. It is not the kind of intelligence target which is very easy to penetrate other than at a very tactical level.

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: How well was it understood by the time you took over in 2004 in the relevant job?

MARTIN HOWARD: At that stage, there didn't seem to be nearly so much of a problem in MND South East. The security problems we were facing in 2004 were primarily those generated by Sunni extremists, Jihadists, the so-called former regime elements. We were also beginning to see, however, some Shia unrest led by Moqtadr el Sadr and Jaysh Al Mahdi, and that was becoming a factor in 2004 But that tended to play itself out in places like Fallujah and Najaf. We didn't see it happening too much in Basra and in MND South East. The problems of deep corruption, criminality, really, I think, started to become much more apparent in 2005 and 2006. That's my impression anyway.  It is very hard to say that, suddenly, the scales fell from our eyes and said, "There is a big problem with corruption here". I think it was an incremental realisation.

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: But that makes it harder to nip it in the bud --



MARTIN HOWARD: -- I would have to agree with that.

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: You have mentioned the importance of getting the central government in Baghdad to deal with the issue, and we have heard a lot of evidence about the differences between Baghdad and Basra. But there is also a particular question, presumably in this case of the role of the Ministry of the Interior that has already been mentioned as a difficulty. So what role was the Ministry of the Interior able to play in addressing corruption, or was it part of the problem itself?

MARTIN HOWARD: I think in the early period that I was there, 2004/2005, and probably into the early part of -- first half of 2006, I think there were severe limits on the ability of the Ministry of the Interior to deal with problems of corruption. I have to say I think it was part of the problem, that in a sense it had become a sectarian organisation in its own right and was therefore contributing to these problems rather than necessarily solving them.  I think that -- I have to say it has changed a lot since then. I mean, I visited Iraq many times -- six times last year, and I have had discussions with Mr Boulani

According to the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace Think Tank (whoever they are) "When Nouri al-Maliki became prime minister in 2006, he appointed Bolani minister of interior. Bolani, who had just announced that he was severing connections to all political parties, declared his intention to clean up the ministry, firing employees and members of the security forces whom he saw as corrupt or too loyal to specific parties and militias rather than the state. Bolani also sought to dismantle the death squads that had established themselves under his predecessor, Bayan Jabr, ...

An Amusing interview with Bayan Jabr can be found here on the PBS website under the amusing title "Gangs of Iraq".  It's worth reading in full but here are some highlights:

You had said right away that you were very upset with the number of insurgents who had infiltrated inside the ministry. You made a remark to one reporter that you couldn't sleep at night because of the number of Baathist informants that were inside the ministry.

Yes, that's right.

What did you do about it?

... In that time we found more than 300 [people with] some doubts against them. Either they are criminals during Saddam's regime, killing or stealing, etc. ... Not insurgency. I fired them.

How many of them did you fire?

Three hundred from the criminals who we found a document against, and [proved] they are criminals by their fingerprints. ...

..................................... and later on......................................

You're saying there was torture --

Yes. There was some torture.

And you did fire people?

Yes, I fired two of the officers and put them in the jail.

Why was it happening? Why was there torture?

There are reports [of torture] during the time of the ex-minister, Falah al-Naqib. This report, I ask you to read it. It is 90 pages about torture in his ministry. The problem is not the ex-minister or the new minister or the future minister or commander. The problem is the culture, because all the officers we bring to the police, they are ex-officers during Saddam's regime, and this culture has an effect on them and leads them to torture. And that is totally wrong. I had two big conferences for all officers here in the palace downstairs, and in that time, we are talking about the human rights, how to protect them. These things I was focusing on. ...

...but his reforms were only partially successful. Indeed, Bolani’s critics claim that, far from being a loyal servant of the state, he is actually close to Moqtada al-Sadr and allowed Sadrist elements to infiltrate the ministry. He has also been accused of appointing members of his Constitution Party to high positions in the Ministry of Interior and usurping his position to secure gains in the January 2009 provincial elections. "

, who was the Minister of the Interior, and I think he, over time, provided the kind of leadership that the MoI needed but probably didn't have in 2005 and 2006

It's possible that anti-corruption measures in the Ministry of the Interior have not gone too well since in 2009 they were the recipiant of a "Pigasus Award".  The Pigasus awards are promoted by Mr James Randi who awards them for outstanding achievements in the fields of parapsychological, paranormal or psychic frauds.  The Iraqi Ministry of the Interior won its award for spending $85,000,000 on a lot of dowsing rods called the ADE 651.  Each individual rod cost $60,000.  

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: What about the role of the Iraqi Government more generally? How -- were you able to get them seized of the problem?

MARTIN HOWARD: I think it was quite difficult to get Prime Minister Maliki in particular to focus on what was going on in MND South East -- and that's not meant as a criticism, because there were huge security problems right across other parts of Iraq and, as I said earlier, he recognised and, indeed, we recognised, that security in Baghdad was in many ways the true strategic centre of gravity here, but I think over time he did recognise that there was a particular problem in Basra which, after all, was Iraq's second city, and towards the end of my time, it seemed to me that the Iraqi Government was getting more engaged in helping to resolve the sort of multiple problems we faced in Basra of corrupt parts of the police, the fact that the Provincial Council went through various phases of non-cooperation with the British military and we did see a steadily increasing interest from Baghdad and what was going on in Basra, and I think that's what came to fruition probably rather after I left in late 2007/2008.

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: Just looking back, clearly by the time that relations had soured with the Provincial Council after the Jameat incident, it was very difficult for the British to recover the situation.  Do you think there are things that we might have been able to do beforehand that might have made it possible to improve matters? Was there a resource issue that hindered us?

MARTIN HOWARD: I find that hard -- I don't think so. I mean, I think that it would have been -- it would have been better to have had more police trainers to help develop the police. Would that have prevented the Serious Crimes Unit becoming a hotbed of corruption? I'm not sure. We would never have been able to generate the numbers of forces you would need to flood the streets with British military personnel and, in any case, that in turn might have generated the kind of resentment we saw emerging anyway later on. So it is quite hard to see exactly in very large strategic terms what we would have done differently.

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: So basically, if you weigh the size of our capacity against the size of the problem, it was always going to be probably a bit beyond us?

MARTIN HOWARD: I think it would be beyond us if it turns out that you couldn't generate Iraqi capacity. I should stress that point. I do not think anyone expected security in MND South East and in Basra to be provided solely by British forces. I mean, that would not have been a feasible thing to do.  So there was always going to be an element of the plan which relied on generating additional forces and making sure they could provide the majority of day-to-day security.

SIR LAWRENCE FREEDMAN: But in this case, those additional forces had to come from outside Basra itself on the Iraqi side?

MARTIN HOWARD: At one or two points, yes, they did, yes, particularly the Iraqi army units.



BARONESS USHA PRASHAR: Thank you. Can you just move on to look at policing posts, September 2005, because following the Jameat police station incident in September, the roles and responsibilities sort of changed in Whitehall. Can you describe how and why these changes occurred and how did that change your own role?

MARTIN HOWARD: The change occurred in around about October 2005 and I think it was a recognition or a conclusion reached by the then Prime Minister that, although DOP(I) was working well, the Iraq Strategy Group was working pretty well, the generation of Iraqi security forces was now very much at the very heart of what we were trying to do and that, therefore, it made sense to designate a single minister, not to be responsible for delivering all of it but to provide the necessary co-ordination of the different departments that were doing that.  So the then Secretary of State for Defence was asked by the Prime Minister to take this on, but very much doing it in co-ordination with other departments. We introduced regular meetings at the ministerial level under the chairmanship alternately of the Secretary of State for Defence and the Foreign Secretary and, as I have mentioned on a couple of occasions, I was asked to chair a cross-Whitehall group, again not to provide the executive delivery of the security sector reform, but to, as far as possible, ensure that there was coherence between them, there was full transparency and visibility of what was going on, and that, if there were problem areas, that then we could look at them collectively and try to come up with solutions.

BARONESS USHA PRASHAR: So you became the coordinator?

MARTIN HOWARD: I would say I became, at my level, the coordinator but, you know, I would never have claimed that I had direct responsibility for delivering policing training.

BARONESS USHA PRASHAR: Did that have any implications for the military? Did they have to be re-skilled to perform police functions?

MARTIN HOWARD: No, I don't think so. This wasn't a question of the military taking over the police training, it was more at the Whitehall level of providing co-ordination of different departments efforts. If anything, we were trying to find ways in which we could generate more civilian police to actually help build up police capacity. This wasn't -- although the Secretary of State for Defence and, below him, me, sort of had this co-ordinating responsibility, this was not designed to say this now becomes a sort of military-led activity, far from it.

BARONESS USHA PRASHAR: Did you succeed in generating civilian involvement?

MARTIN HOWARD: I think we succeeded in generating more coherence of the effort and I think we probably did manage to -- I think the area where we succeeded most, I have to say, was less on the provision of direct policing, but more, in the case of Basra, in terms of helping come up with proposals for improving the situation in Basra, as I mentioned earlier, the Better Basra programme, and working to generate the funding which would allow activities to build law and order structures. So I think that would have helped.  In general, I guess I would have liked the group to have maybe been a little bit more strategic than it was, but you have to deal with a fast-moving situation.

BARONESS USHA PRASHAR: You will have seen that last week we published the review which was carried out by Sir Ronnie Flanagan.


BARONESS USHA PRASHAR: Could you tell us a little bit about the background to his appointment to carry out that role?

MARTIN HOWARD: Yes, when the then Secretary of State for Defence was appointed, almost the first thing he
suggested was to invite Sir Ronnie to go and do an assessment of policing in Iraq.

THE CHAIRMAN: This was Dr Reid?

MARTIN HOWARD: This was Dr Reid and, as we all know, he was Secretary of State for Northern Ireland previously.  So -- and for what it is worth, I thought it was an extremely good idea. I knew Sir Ronnie slightly from my time in Northern Ireland and he seemed an excellent choice to go and, as it were, take stock of what was going on. So he duly did. He paid, I think, two visits to Iraq. There were plans for a third. I'm not sure if the third ever happened, but he paid two visits to Iraq and produced an interim report and then a final report,a very good report, which --

BARONESS USHA PRASHAR: We will be hearing from Sir Ronnie later on but, from your point of view, what were the key conclusions and recommendations of his review?

MARTIN HOWARD: I have read fairly carefully, and we read it, and it struck me that he, first of all, said -- I think the phrase he used was that: "Before the Jameat incident, we were too optimistic about policing, but after the Jameat incident, we were perhaps too pessimistic."

This is a reference to the British attack on the al-Jamiat (spellings differ) police station in Basra  when more than 1,000 UK troops have stormed the headquarters of an Iraqi police unit to rescue 127 prisoners, dozens of whom they had feared would be killed.  The British said the unit was suspected of murder and the rescued prisoners appeared to have been tortured.  The sordid details of the assult are recorded in Task Force Black : The explosive true story of the secret war in Iraq By Mark Urban who claims that

"The mission that night was part of a secret war in which the SAS were effectively placed under the control of a classified American command working for General Stanley McChrystal.

The gaunt American general would later emerge as a central figure in the Afghanistan conflict but at this time he was regarded with awe by a select band - the brotherhood of special operators he led in Iraq.  McChrystal's people waged a campaign in which the old rules of counterterrorism were torn up and a devastating new style of operations emerged.  Ir was not easy for the British to adopt this new thinking.  Many of them thought they knew better.  But the sprawling suburbs of Baghdad or the alleyways of old Basra had little in common with Belfast or the Balkans, where the SAS had perfected its techniques.

Anyway, it seems that although a PR disaster the raiding of the police station went off quite peacefully as "When the blades hit the house to which their comrades had been tracked by the Broadsword, it was eerily quiet.  They blew in doors and windows and stormed the place only to find "the guys had been left there in a locked room.  So the assult went in without resistance".  Or in other word's they naughty PoPo had recieved a tip off.  Anyway if you want any more detail you can go and buy his book and trust him that he didn't just make it all up.

I think that sums it up well. It seemed to me to be a report which amounted to a sort of substantial course correction, but not necessarily a major change of direction. He picked out a number of things that were going very well, some of the tactical police units were working well. A lot of the training was going well.  He was very concerned that a number of police units were just emerging -- he called them "pop-up battalions"; I think that was the phrase that was used -- who weren't on anybody's books and this comes back to what we were discussing earlier about tribal loyalties and other favours being done. So that was a source of some concern for him.  He was the one who said that the British effort should -- policing effort should be concentrated in MND South East. He also stressed the need for the chief police adviser to be close to the GOC, which we followed up.  He also made the point -- and this, I think, was a very important strategic point, both for MND South East and more broadly -- was -- that there was still a gap in terms of support and training in this area of law and order institutions. This is less to do with the Ministry of Defence, but going back to what we said earlier about the Ministry of the Interior, and I thought he was absolutely right, if I may say so, to stress the importance of that.  So that was an extremely valuable set of conclusions.  We also asked him -- I personally asked him if he would look at the role of the Carabinieri in MND South East and whether there was more could be done to use that resource, and again he offered some very useful reflections on that; on the one hand, suggesting that they weren't the complete answer to the policing problem, but nevertheless they were a valuable resource and -- actually, could I say something about the Carabinieri now?


MARTIN HOWARD: Because I still deal with Iraq in my current capacity in NATO and I visited Iraq six times last year and, in fact, I'm going there again next week and the Carabinieri, as part of the NATO training mission, have done an outstanding job in helping develop a much more effective Iraqi police force and continue to do so.

BARONESS USHA PRASHAR: What are the features that have helped that, in terms of the significant things that are important? I mean, how are they different from what our police force does?

MARTIN HOWARD: Well, I think that the security situation has become easier. Iraqi institutions have developed.  But the other thing is sheer longevity, if I can put it that way. The Carabinieri have been on the ground now, within the NATO training mission, since 2004. That's now six years, and I think that's invaluable experience you can learn on the ground, and I think that, over time, they became an extremely effective part of the development of the Iraqi police service.  Certainly Mr Boulani, the Ministry of the Interior stresses this every time I see him, that the Carabinieri have been a unique resource and have really made a difference.

BARONESS USHA PRASHAR: Yes. Okay, the context changed, but is there something different in their approach that made them so effective?

MARTIN HOWARD: No, I don't think so. I think they are there as a deployable, paramilitary Gendarmerie force,
they have learned, as it were, tactically on the ground.  They have been able to do it under a NATO flag, which has perhaps been a little bit less difficult than doing it under a coalition flag, but I do not think the Carabinieri today are doing things radically different from the kind of training they were doing perhaps in Dhi Qar five years ago.

BARONESS USHA PRASHAR: That's interesting. Can I just ask one final question? What happened to Sir Ronnie Flanagan's recommendations? Were they implemented? If not, why not? Which ones were implemented?

MARTIN HOWARD: I can't remember and I haven't been able to work out how every single one was implemented. It was remitted to a small group to implement most of them. As far as I know, the majority worked, but I can't give you an authoritative answer, I am afraid, Baroness Prashar.


THE CHAIRMAN: I would like to ask really one question which is of a fairly broad nature. Looking at the situation in MND South East over the whole period, for quite a long time, certainly into 2005, there was a relatively benign security environment there, and then it progressively became worse and more violent.We have taken a lot of evidence about the contributory factors to why this happened, how it came about, but there is a contrast that can be struck, I think, between what the Americans did in terms of their reaction to the insurgency in Baghdad and central Iraq. They adapted, we have heard, British evidence, British military evidence, from people like General Fry that the Americans adapted well and quickly and, over time -- and I'm quoting now from General Fry's evidence: "The intellectual baton in counter-insurgency terms passed from the British to the US military."  I would like to know whether you agree with that, but beyond it lies the question: have the US military got a lesson to teach us about how you make a large military a true learning organisation capable of quite rapid adaptation to changing circumstances?

MARTIN HOWARD: Yes, that's quite a big question. Of course, I have never argued with my old boss, Rob Fry.
I think in general he is right. I think that US forces did adapt to the situation they found and they came up with different -- with new approaches.  Of course, it is not sufficient that that happened on the ground. It is necessary for changes to happen at the political direction level as well. But I think that's true. Whether we have passed the baton to them in terms of managing counter-insurgency is a hard question to answer.

General Petraeus, who was in Iraq twice, of course, has written the US army's counter-insurgency manual, which is now widely regarded as probably the best or most documented source of counter-insurgency doctrine, but I think if your implication is that we didn't learn, I'm not sure I would agree with that. I think we also tried to adapt our approach.  I think maybe the difference was that, from time to time, the US were prepared to put very substantial additional resources into Iraq and I think that's something which was, I think, much harder for the British Government to do.

THE CHAIRMAN: Your tour as DG Op Pol ended in, what, 2007?


THE CHAIRMAN: There have been, we have heard, significant changes since then to the way the British army goes about its approach. Were these happening before you left, in terms of adaptation of the doctrine, adaptation of training?

MARTIN HOWARD: There were changes. I'm not so sure they were within the British army. I think the change that was emerging as I left, and has continued, has been the idea of bringing civil and military effort together, the so-called comprehensive approach, and it seemed to me that some of the most innovative things we were doing were in that area rather than necessarily the detail of changing military doctrine, but then, of course, I'm not a military person, so I wouldn't necessarily claim to have got involved in detailed matters of doctrine, but it did seem to me that our approach to counter-insurgency or the handling of this kind of crisis was evolving, and evolving in a way which had a much more integrated civilian military approach exemplified by the formation of what was originally called the Post-Conflict Reconstruction Unit and which in due time became the Stabilisation Unit, the unit that I was both the MoD sponsor of and I was a great fan of it. I thought it was the right way to go.

THE CHAIRMAN: I was going to pass the questions to Sir Martin, but you tempt me with a postscript.  Do you think it is possible to sustain a cross-government, cross-service outfit like the Stabilisation Unit through time unless it is constantly engaged in effort?

MARTIN HOWARD: I think it is hard to do. I think that if you have a Stabilisation Unit, you should use it for what it was intended to do. There was a slight sense, in my view, that it was probably misused early on in its existence but, later on, when we developed the concept of stabilisation as a particular activity which was distinct from military operations and distinct from more traditional development, I think it came into its own.  In current circumstances, there is certainly plenty of work for a stabilisation unit, or something like it, to do. So, yes, I think it needs to do things rather than just think about them.

THE CHAIRMAN: Thank you. Martin?

SIR MARTIN GILBERT: I would like to turn to the Iraq/Afghan nexus and focus on the decision. We have heard mixed evidence about the reason for deployment to Helmand. Tony Blair told us actually the suggestion that we did it came from the MoD. Of course, they said it was going to be tough for us, but they said "We can do it and we should do it".  What was your involvement as DG Op Pol in the decision-making process?

MARTIN HOWARD: I think there were three stages to this.  The first -- and this came very soon after I arrived --
was a decision about how to make best use of the headquarters, the Allied Rapid Reaction Corps, the ARRC.  At first, there were some proposals that it should be sent to Iraq. In the end, that requirement rather fell away and, in the middle of 2004, it was agreed in principle that we should plan that it should be deployed into Afghanistan as part of the implementation of NATO's operational planning. As you may recall, that involved a counter-clockwise establishment of NATO responsibility, and the idea was that, in 2006, NATO would take responsibility in the south as well as the north and west, and that the ARRC would be a good formation to oversee that overall approach.  That was in June 2004. I think, in the middle of 2005, the proposal emerged -- and it did come from the military -- that the British effort -- which at that time was concentrated round Mazar-e-Sharif...

In other words in Afghansitan?

..., around the Provincial Reconstruction Team and military support
-- should be moved to the south ....

...as part of this NATO takeover of the south of Iraq and to complement the British investment in the headquarters of the ARRC. As you know, the British provide the overwhelming majority of officers and other staff in the headquarters of the ARRC.  So in -- as I recall, in the middle of 2005, we for the first time discussed the idea of deploying a substantial force into Helmand as part of the NATO mission, as part of the NATO expansion of effort.  The idea was that the focus of the deployment would be around the UK Provincial Reconstruction Team, the PRT, and that we would want to provide a sufficient military force to enable that PRT to do its job.  Then the third occasion was -- let me think. This would have been towards the end of 2006, when we received a request from SACEUR, the NATO supreme commander, for two additional battle groups to go to Afghanistan, and we then had to reach a judgment about -- and that was really the first time that we had a direct debate about tradeoffs of manoeuvre units between Iraq and Afghanistan. I recall that discussion very well.  So those are the three stages. There were lots of other points within it, but those are the three big --

SIR MARTIN GILBERT: At the time of the third stage, what assumptions were made about the operations in Iraq and the resources that would be required for Afghanistan?

MARTIN HOWARD: I mean, up to that point, before SACEUR had asked them for the extra two battle groups, the judgment was that the Afghanistan deployment was manageable against what we were proposing to happen inside Iraq.  Bear in mind, that this is not simply a trade-off between Iraq and Afghanistan, there were other issues which impacted on force levels; for example, the drawdown of units in Northern Ireland as Operation Banner came to its conclusion, which I think was in 2007, the fact that we had plans to withdraw a battle group from Bosnia in 2007, and that duly happened.  But when we looked at the balance of resources, we used the advice we had from the military chain of command, that the maximum that we could deploy, in terms of land forces, on an enduring basis, was eight battle groups. A battle group, as you know, is centred around a major unit, a battalion or a regiment plus enabling forces.  We had, at that stage, six in Afghanistan -- sorry, six in Iraq and two in Afghanistan. If we were going to provide two more for Afghanistan, inevitably that meant two having to come out of Iraq.  It was more implicated than that, but that in essence was how we put it to ministers. So we had to debate what we would do. We concluded in the end that certainly one battle group would be becoming available, as the transition was happening inside Iraq, but the second battle group would probably be delayed because there was a particular requirement to retain a presence inside Basra Palace. So that was the debate we had ataround the end of 2006.

SIR MARTIN GILBERT: In terms of those assumptions, were contingency plans made should the assumptions prove to be flawed in some serious way?

MARTIN HOWARD: I think we always make contingency plans, but I think that we had already got to the point where we were reasonably secure in thinking that one battle group could be released from Iraq. The contingency was really around the second and, in the end, we chose to retain the battle group for a few more months -- I think until around August or September 2007 -- in Basra, rather than redeploy it, because there were particular tactical risks associated with leaving earlier.

SIR MARTIN GILBERT: Did you think at the time that it was possible to take on these extra commitments in Afghanistan without the campaign in Iraq suffering?

MARTIN HOWARD: I thought that the conclusion we reached was, you know, a rational one, which was that SACEUR had asked for two extra battle groups. Providing one was tough, but do-able; providing the second would have meant a -- providing the second in a timely manner, ie for the summer of 2007, would have meant probably taking excessive risk in removing it from Iraq at that point. But in the end, it was removed. Later on, I think we did withdraw the second battle group and in the end I think we were able to provide the second battle group for Afghanistan, but later than SACEUR wanted.

SIR MARTIN GILBERT: We have heard from some of our witnesses that, by that time, the priority in the MoD had become Afghanistan. Is that your perception?

MARTIN HOWARD: I think -- I left in July 2007. I think at that stage -- to be honest, I still think Iraq was the top priority, but it was a priority in the sense that there was a lot of policy work that had to be done to address how we were going to scale down. Actually, in some ways, scaling down can be the most demanding part of any operation, it can raise some of the most difficult political issues, and I always felt that maybe towards the very end, Afghanistan was, as I think I said at the beginning, becoming level with Iraq and certainly, after I left, Afghanistan started to rise and indeed, has continued to rise since then.

THE CHAIRMAN: The last set of questions, Roderic?

SIR RODERIC LYNE: In your time, how did the deployment in Helmand affect planning for force level reviews in Iraq?

MARTIN HOWARD: I think I have described that. I mean -- the initial decision to send the HQ of the ARRC -- there was a choice between Iraq and Afghanistan, but that was very easily resolved. The decision to deploy the PRT into Helmand and deploy around about 3,000 forces to help support it, I didn't think had much impact on our planning for Iraq at all.  Where, if I can say, the rubber hit the road in terms of the trade-off between the two operations came towards the end of 2006/early 2007, in the way that I have described to Sir Martin, when we were asked by SACEUR to provide more forces and that was when we came up against -- in terms of land manoeuvre forces, the kind of limits of what was sustainable for an enduring period, and even that with some pain.

SIR RODERIC LYNE: But we also had to make priority decisions over equipment and we have heard from General Shirreff, for example, that he felt that, because of Afghanistan, there was a negative impact on the availability of equipment in Iraq, particularly strategic enablers. Is that something you were very conscious of?

MARTIN HOWARD: I can't say I was particularly conscious of it. I mean, I think that there are strains involved in providing two, as it were, lines of communication to two medium-scale operations and that that could have stretched those assets.  But I don't recall any specific debate in London, in the Ministry of Defence, which says, "Now, we must do less for Iraq so that we can do more in Afghanistan with those enablers".  I mean, Richard may well have felt that that was the case and I wouldn't want to second-guess his military judgment. He would be much closer to the situation on the ground, but that's not something I particularly recognised from my time.

SIR RODERIC LYNE: Did this stretch that you described mean that we effectively had lost our options in Iraq? We had to continue the path towards transition, and drawdown, so that, when the Americans started surging, if we wanted to, we didn't actually have that option?

MARTIN HOWARD: I think that probably is true but I don't think that was ever really a policy option that was on the table. I think there were other reasons why a major surge probably wasn't a realistic proposition.

SIR RODERIC LYNE: So there was no discussion about the option of trying to re-establish control over security
and law and order in Basra before we transitioned by putting in more forces; that just wasn't discussed?

MARTIN HOWARD: I don't recall it being entertained as a serious policy option.

SIR RODERIC LYNE: We were set on drawdown?

MARTIN HOWARD: I think we were and I think with some reason. We had gone through a process of successful PIC in three out of the four provinces. It was always the intention that we would draw down in Basra.

SIR RODERIC LYNE: But we left the city before the PIC.

MARTIN HOWARD: We left the city before PIC, yes, but that was partly because the particular situation there was that the violence was being directed against us.

SIR RODERIC LYNE: But we left it in the control of the militias. We hadn't actually got on top of the militias
before we left it.

MARTIN HOWARD: I think to say we left it in the control of the militias is probably exaggerating.

SIR RODERIC LYNE: Who was in control?

MARTIN HOWARD: As I said earlier, not all of the Iraqi police service and not all of the Iraqi army was in -- corrupt or in the hands of the militias. The army itself had moved in, General Mohan had moved down into Basra. So there was an increasing Iraqi investment. It wasn't as tidy as we would have liked. I certainly would agree with that, but I'm not sure it is right to say we just left it completely in the hands of --

SIR RODERIC LYNE: Were they the dominant force on the streets of Basra at the time that we moved from the city to the airport?

MARTIN HOWARD: I wouldn't describe them as that, no.


Martin Howard on What has been Learned

THE CHAIRMAN: With that, I'll close the session. I thank our witness, Martin Howard, and we are going to resume at quarter to four, when the witness will be Mr Bob Ainsworth. Thank you.

Photo Credits.
Sir John Scarlett stolen from MI6
Royal Courts of Justice by antmoose on Flickr
Cant remember who took the picture of Tim Wonnacott
Most photos of British, American of Iraqi politicians by US Army
Although their forigen policy is arguably aggressive
one cant fault their photography
Additional Material plagerised from the Wikipedia foundation
Some other bits and pieces may have fallen off the back of the internet.
Think this really is the end
I cant be bothered to read another transcript
ever ever ever ever ever again
I know I said that last time
but this time I mean it