End raids on Iraq, says SAS general

Click to follow
The Independent Online
THE FORMER commander of the SAS in the Falklands War, General Sir Michael Rose, attacked Tony Blair and President Bill Clinton yesterday for the continuing air strikes on Iraq.

General Rose, who commanded the peacekeeping forces during the crisis in Bosnia, echoed Tony Benn, the veteran Labour campaigner, by warning the air strikes were creating a "culture of violence" and risked alienating the British public.

"The continual TV images of the West's high-technology systems causing death and destruction to people in the Third World will not be tolerated forever by civilised people," he said in a lecture at the Royal United Services Institute.

He said the efforts to reach a political settlement were "negated by firing cruise missiles in Afghanistan and Iraq". He added: "It is pointless trying to achieve goals through limited war aims, which can only be properly achieved by waging absolute war."

General Rose also warned the Government that it was putting in peril its capability for sustaining operations with the cuts in the Territorial Army from 59,000 to 41,200 reservists. His attack was mounted as the Government came under renewed fire from the Labour-led Commons Select Committee on Defence over the TA cuts.

Bruce George, its chairman, appealed to ministers to rethink the cuts and reprieve the closure of some TA centres, including the Duke of York's headquarters in London.

On the relations between the regular Army and the reservists, Mr George said: "We have been aware of an undercurrent of distrust and, on occasion disdain, from some sections of the Ministry of Defence and the regular Army when dealing with the TA."

He added: "Our report makes it clear that we are aware of it and that it must stop. We expect future relations between the two parts of the Army to be characterised by mutual respect.

"Ministers must act as the honest brokers," he said. "They should not be afraid to knock heads together if relations start once more to sour."

The committee was furious at the MoD for ridiculing its latest report. It also claimed that a new recruitment drive, launched yesterday by the MoD, was a pre-emptive strike to dampen interest in the committee's findings.

In spite of the overall cuts, the MOD announced it was mounting a pounds 4m campaign to find 10,000 new recruits for the TA. The campaign features a high-tech poster, which changes depending on the angle from which it is viewed.

From one angle the eight-foot wide poster shows a building worker on site, from another he becomes a fully camouflaged soldier carrying a rifle in a battle zone.

The slogan underneath is: "In the TA you need to be ready at any moment".