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UK Stability Operations in Iraq report 2006

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Release date
June 23, 2008

Summary

United Kingdom Ministry of Defence analysis of UK Army post-war operations in Iraq, May 2003 to 21 Jan 2005 when the first Iraqi elections were held ("Operation TELIC 2-5"). Written at the RESTRICTED level. Document passed to Wikileaks and subsequently collaborated with military sources.

Extracts follow. Jargon filled paragraphs, such as information on the lack of efficacy of the UK intelligence gathering platform ISTAR have not been extracted. Emphasis and [annotation] by Wikileaks. The full report is here    File | Torrent | Magnet .




However, the UK Government’s overriding concern was to achieve a further United Nations Security Council Resolution (UN SCR) with robust language relating to Weapons of Mass Destruction. As the junior partner in a provisional coalition the UK had to work to a timetable and strong ideological views set in the United States. As one Senior Officer put it: ‘the train was in Grand Central Station, and [it] was leaving at a time which we did not control’. (page 10)

In [the] UK the political and planning realities coupled with the restrictive OPSEC [Operational Security] regime meant that few people in MOD [the Ministry of Defence], and very few in other Government Departments (OGD) were planning the overall operations, including Phase IV [post-combat operations]. Departments had very different views of the crisis. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and Treasury were involved in Phase IV planning, as were the Departments for International Development (DfID) Trade and Industry, and Constitutional Affairs (ex-Lord Chancellor’s Department) to a very limited extent. Cabinet Office played a co-ordinating role. OGD (and some officials in MOD) took some persuading that they would have obligations under the Geneva Conventions (1949) if or when the UK became an Occupying Power: the implied tasks or responsibilities were very significant in size, range and complexity. (page 11)

The requirements to plan, find resources for, and undertake interim government and reconstruction in Iraq, the non-military tasks, were discussed in outline across Whitehall, but approaches to potential contractors were not made until combat operations were coming to an end. Planning was not done in sufficient depth, and, at the outset of Phase IV [post combat operations] little finance was requested (and approved) for reconstruction purposes. (page 11)

There was a hope among some senior officials in MOD and OGD that the UN, or other countries might take on interim government and reconstruction tasks. The lack of planning ran counter to potential Geneva Convention obligations and to the principle contingency planning: it also failed to take into account the evident reluctance of other countries to support the Coalition intent and further ‘robust language’ UN SCR.3 (page 11/12)

10. In the event, the rapid fall of the Saddam Regime led to an unexpected and precipitate breakdown of law and order. Lack of planning and resources resulted in delays before reconstruction of essential services could start, and before the new government and security structures in Iraq could be established. 1st (UK) Armoured Division’s declarations that essential services could be quickly restored proved hopelessly optimistic in the four Provinces, particularly BASRAH. In MAYSAN locals were proud that they, not the Coalition, had ‘liberated’ their Province; they sought material help, not occupying forces. Overall, during the initial months, reality on the ground and Iraqi expectations were far apart, and local support for and confidence in the Coalition ebbed; in late-2003 violent incidents increased.4 Local activists were able to capitalise on these, and to develop an insurgency against the ‘forces of occupation’.5 (page 12)

11. The strands of the Coalition Campaign were not linked effectively: a senior British Officer observed that ‘... the UK Government, which spent millions of pounds on resourcing the Security Line of Operations, spent virtually none on the Economic one, on which security depended’. (page 12)

13. The UK assumed military responsibility for the four Southern Iraqi provinces. Confusion arose, however, over the non-military responsibilities. The legal obligations relating to an Occupying Power under the Geneva Conventions fell to the UK; the civilian authority (CPA(South)) had other responsibilities; and many of the reconstruction plans and resources were provided by the US. CPA [Coalition Provisional Authority] (South) worked to the CPA in Baghdad, and was unresponsive to HQ Multi-National Division (South East) (MND(SE)) [British/Danish] requests. Ambassador Bremer’s view was that the Coalition’s main strategic priority was the stabilisation of the Baghdad region. Initially, in the Southern Provinces, help came mostly from the troops there rather than the CPA. Later, the CPA paid significant sums for Iraqi salaries and reconstruction projects (page 13)

Coalition partners take different stances on other issues too, including, notably, the law. This embraces international and human rights law, proportionality and collateral damage concepts, rules of engagement (ROE), a forensic approach to incidents, and post- incident investigation. There is a major difference of view between those who have signed the European Convention on Human Rights and those who have not. Political engagement is required to resolve differences of opinion, but there is no guarantee of success. (page 16)

In Iraq, deployed British commanders and officials have relied on doctrine which has its origins in the analysis made by Sir Robert Thompson in Defeating Communist Insurgency. (page 19)

Scale, both in geography and the level of violence, is also a factor.British doctrine for peace enforcement is thin, and events in Iraq, including terrorist action in urban areas has brought this into focus. (page 20)

‘When I went on the recce’ one Op TELIC 2 battlegroup commander recalled ‘someone said “it is just like Northern Ireland”. When I came back I asked “which part of Northern Ireland were you in?” (page 21)

As currently configured, neither the Royal Military Police nor the Military Provost Service have the resources to take on operational custodial activity or wider Security Sector Reform tasks. Nevertheless, the deployment of specialist advisers able to train and guide troops in guarding prisoners of all types is essential at the outset of operations. Prisoner handling and detention arrangements quickly attract attention from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the media. (27)

Some overlooked lessons from high-intensity warfare re-emerged during the period, particularly in places where many contacts were experienced. ‘The accepted level of violence’ had altered, one commander said. ‘We became inured to violence. It ... changed a lot of young people: their perceptions of themselves and their perceptions of what is important.’ (page 28)

Major ISTAR projects (eg. DABINETT and WATCHKEEPER (UAV)) are in the EP and there are plans for Operational Intelligence Support Groups. None of these will deliver enhancements for the next four to five years, however, and some key elements will not be in place until 2017. (page 31)

The UK reports into intelligence failures (including Weapons of Mass Destruction issues) commented on poor and inconsistent standards of analysis, and therefore Army intelligence analyst training should be re-evaluated. (page 31)

At battlegroup level intelligence cells were built on a similar basis to those used in Northern Ireland. Some battlegroups were fortunate enough to be able to use trained people experienced in Northern Ireland in the same role during their tours in Iraq. The innovation of a battlegroup Operations Support Cell, covering CIMIC, Information Operations, PSYOPS and media operations was effective and enabled good links to be developed with the CPA(South). (page 46)

3-3. During the period of Op TELIC 2-5, some national contingents lacked the capability to carry out their Geneva Convention obligations in full.

Insight: Obligations under the Geneva Conventions are laid on states and their agencies, and not just on their Armed Services. (page 46)

The legal basis for the war itself was, and still is, controversial. There is a military need, at least, at the outset of operations to reinforce the legal base for deployment by clear, unequivocal and timely direction and explanation. (page 48)

3-8. The most important conventions relating to Occupation are the four Geneva Conventions 1949 and the subsequent 1st Geneva Protocol 1977: these are part of the body of International Humanitarian Law known as the Law of Armed Conflict. The legal cornerstone for the rights and responsibilities of an Occupying Power is Article 43 of the 1907 Hague Convention IV. The legal obligation to ‘...restore, and ensure, as far as possible, public order and safety’ obliged UK and Coalition Forces to try to restore and maintain law and order once they exercised ‘authority’ over Iraqi territory. While many assumed Phase IV activities would be similar to a peace support operation, Occupation is governed by a different legal regime, with different legal rights and obligations. (page 48)


The statistics relating to incidents requiring investigation for Op TELIC, from the start of major combat operations to 12 Jan 2006, are:

There have been 191 investigations since the start of operations in Iraq

a.

This figure covers all types of incidents.

b. 171 of these investigations have been closed with no further action.

c. Of the remaining 20 cases:

(1) 4 investigations are still ongoing.

(2) 4 have been directed for trial.

(3) 3 are with the prosecuting authorities.

(4) 1 is with the Chain of Command for decision.

(5) 3 cases have been dealt with summarily by Commanding Officers.

(6) 5 cases have been dealt with by the courts.

d. There are 5 cases which could be classed as deliberate abuse, 2 of which have been dealt with by General Courts Martial.

(page 55)

‘Whenever I hear the word culture I release the safety catch of my revolver.’ -- Hanns Johst (Nazi playwright, 1934) often quoted by Goering. (page 58)

Do not try to do too much with your own hands. Better the Arabs do it tolerably than that you do it perfectly. It is their war, and you are to help them, not to win it for them. Actually, also, under the very odd conditions of Arabia, your practical work will not be as good as, perhaps, you think it is.’ -- T E Lawrence Twenty-Seven Articles, Arab Bulletin, Aug 1917. (page 58)

2. 'Global Insurgency'. This title is Al Qa'ida (AQ) inspired, but was adopted by Al Zarqawi's organisation (AZQ) inside Iraq, and is strongly anti-Shia. AZQ is principally based in the West (AL ANBAR Province) and the North (MOSUL) but is capable of operating anywhere in Iraq. AZQ may ‘sub-contract’ intimidation and assassination to other radical Sunni groups. (Current UK counter insurgency (COIN) doctrine does not fully address this aspect of an insurgency.) The AQ campaign is focussed towards establishing an Islamic Caliphate extending from Indonesia to Turkey. There are also specific aims that are political (although not in a Western sense) and which seek to restore religious authority. Al Zarqawi’s role was to achieve success in Iraq in order to give further momentum to this type of insurgency. There is a difference of opinion between US and UK analysts (and, it appears, commanders) as to the importance of ‘Foreign Fighters’. The UK view is that most the insurgents are predominantly Iraqi although the AQ (Iraq) leadership may be foreign.

3. Former Regime Elements. The Former Regime Elements (FRE) insurgency follows the accepted 'political' insurgency model (and is therefore covered by existing British doctrine). Active in both rural and urban areas, it emanates from Saddam's tribal support around TIKRIT (the ‘Sunni Triangle’). FRE elements are not particularly keen to have Saddam back, preferring a Sunni dominated (New) Ba'ath Party in power. Political outreach initiatives are aimed at bringing FRE groups back on side. These Sunni groups are federated rather than homogeneous: they are mostly secular in nature but some are tending toward radicalism as the Shia gain political influence.

4. Radical 'Islamic' Groups. There are a relatively large number of comparatively small groups that can be characterised by two broad categories: current UK COIN doctrine does not really take account of both these types of organisation.

5. Ansar-Al-Sunna. Ansar-Al-Sunna is a Sunni dominated radical Islamic group with strong ties to AZQ, but it is essentially home grown in Iraq. The group has a political agenda: a fundamentalist state dominated by the Sunni interpretation of Sharia Law (which is not attractive to the West). Ansar-Al-Sunna is largely based to the West and South of Baghdad (NORTH BABIL) with growing influence in the North around MOSUL. They can operate anywhere but are generally active along the ethnic ‘fault lines’ within Iraq. They distrust the Shia and regularly attempt to provoke them into using violence.

6. Wahabbi. The Wahabbi are a Sunni dominated sect inspired by the fundamentalist Islamic view of the world (and law) in the mid-1500's Salafism. There is an Iraqi ‘chapter’ of a much wider political movement within the (older) Arab Islamic States. Essentially they are Islamic 'bully boys' who use fear and intimidation but do not generally go in for spectacular 'terrorist' actions. They hate the Shia.

7. ‘Militant’ Shia Groups. Shia groups tend to be more political than purely religious in. nature, although there is a clear religious dimension not least because of the number of Sunni groups intent on terrorising the Shia. While, strictly speaking, none of the following groups form part of the insurgency, the groups outlined below are important ‘players’ on the complex political stage in Iraq. They are:

a. Muqtada Al Sadr's Grouping. The grouping includes the Muqtada Militia, Office of the Martyr Sadr, Jaysh-Al-Mahdi, and others. They share a strong Shia religious tradition, with radical clerics in leadership positions, but also have a political agenda, and they may yet enter mainstream politics. They exist in Baghdad (THAWRA – ex-SADR CITY), NAJAF and KARBALA and in the South (AL AMARAH, BASRAH, AN NASIRIYAH).

b. The Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI). SCIRI is

a Shia political party founded in 1982, and was led by Ayatollah Sayed Mohammed Baqir al-Hakim until he was assassinated in NAJAF in August 2003; his brother Abdul Aziz al-Hakim assumed the leadership in his place. SCIRI gained prominence after the fall of Saddam and won over many of the Southern Shias by providing aid and social services. It has close links with, and financial backing from Iran, and is often accused of furthering Iranian interests (tending towards the destabilisation of Iraq to keep it weak so that Iran is dominant, possibly as part of a wider plan towards regional hegemony). In the January 2005 elections SCIRI joined the United Iraqi Alliance. SCIRI is closely linked with the Badr Coc.

The Badr Corps. The Badr Corps was originally more a political organisation (a Shia militia) than a militant religious group, but the Corps has radical religious leanings to a Shia dominated, Sharia state. It is widely regarded as the armed wing of SCIRI (see above) and receives financial and other support from Iran. At the end of the period the Badr Corps was in the political ascendancy: it has the option of moving back to the shadows if events go against it. The Badr Corps has been linked with violent action against individuals and elements who fail to behave in traditional Islamic ways. rps.

The transfer of sovereignty to the Iraqi Interim Government on 28 Jun 04 added further potential difficulties regarding the rules on detention, which were relevant to the UK role in debriefing some of the High Value Detainees. Strong consideration should be given to the assignment of a legal adviser to any UK commander or group in a coalition operation when sensitive issues, including debriefing and detention are likely to arise. A formal review and promulgation of UK interrogation, debriefing and detention guidance to UK staff embedded with coalition units is essential.(page 95)

The exclusion of UK personnel from information and decision-making for reasons of US ‘NOFORN’ [classified US information unavailable to the "foreign" UK] rules militated against successful working, and needed some robust interventions on occasion. While this may be a factor on future missions, it is an issue that needs to be raised at the outset when national contributions are offered. (page 95)

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