» Friday, October 13, 2006


Asked if the Prime Minister agreed that the presence of British troops in Iraq had exacerbated the problems of violence, the PMOS said that the way that the interview with General Sir Richard Dannatt was presented did raise questions. The person who had addressed those questions was the General in his interview today. In those interviews, the General had said that we were going to see this through, and on record, that we would stand shoulder to shoulder with the Americans. The General had said on record three weeks ago that he was planning force packages in Iraq (i.e. troops) for 2007 to 2008. The General had also said that he remained committed to the vision of a unity state of Iraq with a democratically elected Government, security forces that underpinned that Government, and a prosperous economy. As the General had said, we did not see a cigarette paper between that position, and that of the Prime Minister or the Secretary of State for Defence. The General believed that a lot of the comment that had surrounded the interview had got a bit fanciful.

Put that people had heard Sir Richard Dannatt’s response, but what was the Prime Minister’s response, and how did the Prime Minister feel about the Chief of the General Staff so publicly criticising the policy in Iraq and describing the idea that Iraq could be a democratic Government as naïve, the PMOS said that the General had said that "…I don’t think it was in the region’s interest to see Iraq, an important country, fragmenting into three or more parts. I think, as I had said before, that a democratically elected Government: important. Security forces that underpinned that, and a unity state was key". The General was actually saying what the Government policy was. Government policy had been working towards a democratically elected Government for Iraq, and we had got that. We had to support that Government, and let it decide when it was fit to take on responsibility for security, as it had already done in two of the four provinces where we had troops. That was the General’s view and that was our view, too.

Asked if it was right that the Chief of the General Staff should be commenting on Government policy in this was, as surely it was for the Government to set a policy for the military to implement, and the General should be running the Army, the PMOS replied that what was important was that people reflected on what he had said this morning.

Put that the General was reported to be worried that the Army would be "broken" on Iraq, and was the Prime Minister worried that the Army could be broken on Iraq, the PMOS replied that what we all wanted to see was the progress on Iraq that allowed us to bring our troops home. However, to do so, in a situation where there was a democratically elected Government with security forces capable of defending that Government and the unity state of Iraq. The General had also said, however, that he remained of the view that that was achievable, and so did we.

Put that the General had also said that "we did not want to be there for another 2,3,4,5 years", and was that the Prime Minister’s position as well, the PMOS replied that we did not want to be in Iraq any more than we had to be, but the people who decided that in the end was the Iraqi Government, as they would know when they had the capability to defend themselves.

Put that the General had said that there was another "big factor" and it was not just a question of the Iraq Government, but rather, it was a question of "stretch" and the Army being broken, the PMOS said that we had addressed the resources issues, and had planned properly, but the aim was to make progress that allowed us to bring our troops home whenever the conditions were right to do so. Those conditions were whenever the Iraqi Government had the capability to defend itself.

Put by the BBC that the General had also said today that he believed in some situations that the presence of troops was exacerbating the situation, and did the Prime Minister share that view, the PMOS replied that the General had given a very good example of what he had meant by that. What the General had said was one of the problems where we had moved out, Australian troops had gone back in, and because people wanted their own forces there, that was seen as provocative. However, those were judgements that had to be made on the ground, and the people who best made those judgements was not the BBC, but rather, it was the Government of Iraq. The Iraqi Government had said that it wanted our presence there. When we were in Baghdad, leaders of the Kurd, Shia and Sunni communities said that they still wanted a multi-national force in Iraq, and that included our troops.

Asked if the General had the Prime Minister’s full support and did the Prime Minister endorse everything the General said, or only some of it, the PMOS replied that the General did have the Prime Minister’s full support. As the General had said, he did not want a cigarette paper between the Prime Minister, himself and the Secretary of State for Defence.

Asked if it was true that Des Browne was not aware of the interview, and what was the nature of the contact last night from Washington, the PMOS said that there were reports today that the White House had in some way tried to intervene in a conference call last night. That was completely untrue. In terms of whether Des Browne was aware of the interview, the PMOS said that he had been rather busy, and checking the inner workings of the MOD had not been top of his list.

Asked what was the White House contact about, the PMOS said that there was not any contact.

Asked if the Prime Minister had spoken to the General either last night or today, the PMOS replied that he had not.

Asked if there had been any contact by the Prime Minister, a Government Minister, civil servant etc since the Daily Mail interview to General Sir Richard Dannatt, the PMOS said that the Prime Minister had not spoken to the General. With regards to whether anyone from the MOD, journalists should contact the MOD.

Asked by the Standard if it was Government policy that we were in Iraq for as long it would take, and there was no time limit on when we ought to come home, the PMOS said that he had answered this question many times. The answer was as we had always said: it was based on the capability of the Iraqi Government to defend itself and that as the General had said this morning, we would see it through. We be there as long as it took for the Iraqi Government to get the capability it needed to defend itself.

Asked if the Prime Minister had contacted President Bush to dissuade him of any worries, the PMOS said the Prime Minister had not.

Asked what contact there would be with the US on a diplomatic level, the PMOS said that he was not aware of what contact there might be, but in any case, we did not give a running commentary on such contact.

Put that we had stressed that the Government and the General were at one in terms of the policy, and given that the General had said that it was fact that when British troops went into some areas, it provoked attacks, should we not re-think our strategy, as it would be easier for the Iraqi Government to regain control of security if we pulled out of more areas of Iraq, the PMOS replied again that the best judge of that was the Iraq Government and the commanders on the ground. That was for them to decide, not for us.

Briefing took place at 15:00 | Search for related news


  1. American war crimes in Iraq – pdf – the horror……..

    <a href="http://www.consumersforpeace.org/pdf/war_crimes_report.pdf">http://www.consumersforpeace.org/pdf/war_crimes_report.pdf</a&gt;

    Comment by General Casey — 13 Oct 2006 on 10:54 pm | Link
  2. Support Our Troops – <a href="http://www.iava.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=2054&Itemid=159 ">Watch This Video</a>

    <a href="http://questionitnow.com/iraqb">Still In Iraq</a>

    Comment by DTW 06 — 14 Oct 2006 on 6:16 am | Link
  3. Support our troops by bringing them home.

    Comment by George — 17 Oct 2006 on 11:34 pm | Link

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