General tells of frustration over Iraq funding

'Woefully thin' resources meant worsening security was uncontainable

Britain's most senior military officer appointed to oversee post-war planning in Iraq has said the Government has serious questions to answer about the lack of funds made available for the operation.

As Sir John Chilcot's inquiry into the Iraq war prepares to resume tomorrow, Maj-Gen Tim Cross told The Independent that "woefully thin" resources meant troops were unable to deal with worsening security after the March 2003 invasion. His comments raise awkward questions for Gordon Brown, who was Chancellor during the invasion.

Maj-Gen Cross, who was embedded in the Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance set up by the Bush administration to oversee the reconstruction effort, said he was told by the Government not to commit more resources to the operation. "A lot of senior generals were frustrated that they didn't have sufficient resources," he said. "The message I kept receiving was, do not commit us to spending any resources. I found that quite frustrating.

"Asking what resources had we put aside as part of the rebuilding process for Iraq is a fair question to ask. I think when you see that, you realise they are not large amounts of money we are talking about."

He criticised both the Prime Minister and Clare Short, then the International Development Secretary, for a British strategy that lacked coherence. "You have a department of state [the Department for International Development] saying, 'We don't think we should be involved in this' [and] a Chancellor saying to the Prime Minister 'you can do what you like but you're not having any money'," he said.

"You do not get a sense that around that Cabinet table, there was a coherent discussion about what we thought we were doing in Iraq and what we thought should have come out of it. That was my frustration."

Maj-Gen Cross added that the failure to provide adequate resources for the reconstruction effort in Iraq formed part of growing tension between the Labour Government and the military. "There is an underlying problem here about a Government that is very keen to engage on the international scene and engage its military capability," he said. "If you're not prepared to put the resources in you can come unstuck. We just didn't have the resources to really hold down the security situation."

He said that the problems of post-war planning could not simply be blamed on the low priority given to it by the Bush administration. "There was a serious problem in Whitehall, not a US problem," he said. "My sense was, no one was really taking these discussions very seriously. I do not say that in a sweepingly judgemental way – I'm not saying I was the only person who understood what should have been done. But in Whitehall, it seems to me that there was no single minister of Cabinet rank who was driving this day to day." He added that his questions about the Government's plans on post-war strategy often went unanswered and criticised witnesses at the Iraq inquiry who suggested that officials had other priorities during that period. "My answer to that is, hang on a minute, we are about to invade a country and go to war. What can be a higher priority?"

During his appearance at the Iraq inquiry, Maj-Gen Cross revealed that he had warned Tony Blair two days before the invasion that post-war planning had not been carried out sufficiently and that military action should be delayed. "I was not expecting them to put off the invasion, but I was expecting someone to say that we really need to get a grip on the post-war stuff," he said.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Rocky road: Dwayne Johnson and Carla Gugino play an estranged husband and wife in 'San Andreas'
filmReview: In the face of all-round devastation, even Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson appears a little puny
Arts and Entertainment
Bright lights, big city: Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles by dusk
books
News
i100
Sport
Harry Kane makes Paul Scholes' Premier League team of the season
footballPaul Scholes on the best players, managers and goals of the season - and the biggest disappointments
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer - Junior / Middleweight

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: One of the South East's fastest growing full s...

Guru Careers: Marketing Manager / Marketing Communications Manager

£35-40k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Marketing Communicati...

Recruitment Genius: Commercial Engineer

£30000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Estimating, preparation of tech...

Recruitment Genius: IT Support Technician

£14000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: You will work as part of a smal...

Day In a Page

Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
10 best wedding gift ideas

It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

Paul Scholes column

With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club that later became synonymous with Hillsborough has dealt with this tragedy
Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor