The Blog

Self-Criticism of Britain's War on Terror

5:21 PM, Sep 4, 2009 • By BILL ROGGIO
Widget tooltip
Single Page Print Larger Text Smaller Text Alerts

The latest edition of the British Army Review is dishing out some serious criticism of the British military's performance in Iraq and Afghanistan. Soldiers and military historians alike are critical of Britain's efforts. The Times Online provides some excerpts:

A soldier is critical of the ongoing desire to cut deals with the Taliban:

"I don't believe compromise with the Taliban is possible. We will have to break the back of the Taliban ... taking away their ability to plan and execute complex operations, disabling their ability to procure new and more devastating weapons and, most importantly, destroying their influence over the civilian population."

An officer laments the focus on bureaucracy and political correctness upon the return home:

"On return [from Iraq and Afghanistan], what welcomes the Army after the homecoming parade and the memorial service? Health and safety inspections and the Human Rights Act, with the necessary paperwork to go with it.

And Colonel Pete Mansour, a senior aide to General Petraeus in Iraq, lambastes the political leadership and the deals cut with the Mahdi Army in Basra:

"The British failure in Basra was not due to the conduct of British troops, which was exemplary. It was, rather, a failure by senior British civilian and military leaders to understand the political dynamics ... in Iraq, compounded by arrogance that led to an unwillingness to learn and adapt, along with increasing reluctance to risk blood and treasure to conduct effective counter-insurgency warfare . . .

"British commanders attempted to cut deals with local Shia leaders to maintain the peace in southern Iraq, an accommodation that was doomed to failure since the British negotiated from a position of weakness."

For years, the Brits looked down on the US military for failing to understand the complexities of counterinsurgency. History will not be kind to Britain's performance in Iraq and Afghanistan, however.