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Operations in Iraq

Operations in Iraq: Lessons for the Future

Foreword by Geoffrey Hoon, British Secretary of State for Defence. Source: MoD, London, December 2003. (92 Pages Full report).

In July this year, the Ministry of Defence published an account of the coalition military operation against the Saddam Hussein regime in Iraq together with some early indicators of lessons for the (1) future In my foreword to that report, I promised to publish a fuller report after a thorough examination of all aspects of the operation. Since then a substantial number of UK Servicemen and women, supported by MOD civilian staff, have continued to undertake vital operations in Iraq. They are working with personnel from other Government Departments, contractors and non-Governmental organisations and with colleagues from 32 other nations to bring security and stability to the country, facilitate national recovery and to restore government to the Iraqi people. This has been difficult UK and often dangerous work in harsh conditions, and sadly, a number of our Service personnel as well as those from coalition partners and civilians have lost their lives in pursuit of these aims.

The successful generation and deployment of a large-scale UK force contribution to coalition operations in Iraq was all the more creditable when viewed against the other tasks the Armed Forces continued to meet at the same time such as providing emergency cover for the Fire Brigade strike, as well as commitments in Northern Ireland, Afghanistan, and the Balkans. This report presents the conclusions of our analysis of the Iraq operation to the end of the combat phase andthe early post-conflict period and identifies the key lessons we can draw for the future. It also provides an account of the excellent further work our Armed Forces have undertaken since the end of combat operations. There are lessons at all levels, from strategic policy to unit procedures,setting out both what went well and the areas where we could do better. We have also examined how the military contribution fitted into the wider Government and coalition approach to Iraq. We will consider all these lessons carefully in our planning and procedures, so that the conduct of operations in the future can gain the maximum benefit from the experience of today. But the clear message that emerges from this operation - as from others in recent years - is that of the enduring courage, determination and professionalism of our Servicemen and women in carrying out this country's commitment to act as a force for good in an uncertain world.

Geoffrey Hoon

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Directeur de la publication : Joël-François Dumont
Comité de rédaction : Jacques de Lestapis, Hugues Dumont, François de Vries (Bruxelles), Hans-Ulrich Helfer (Suisse), Michael Hellerforth (Allemagne).
Comité militaire : VAE Guy Labouérie (†), GAA François Mermet (2S), CF Patrice Théry (Asie).