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
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Arts and Entertainment
Caroline Flack became the tenth winner of Strictly Come Dancing
tvReview: 'Absolutely phenomenal' Xtra Factor presenter wins Strictly Come Dancing final
Arts and Entertainment
The Apprentice finalists Mark Wright and Bianca Miller
tvBut who should win The Apprentice?
News
The monkey made several attempts to revive his friend before he regained consciousness
video
Extras
indybest
News
Elton John and David Furnish will marry on 21 December 2014
peopleSinger posts pictures of nuptials throughout the day
Sport
Brendan Rodgers looks on from the touchline
SPORT
Life and Style
A still from the 1939 film version of Margaret Mitchell's 'Gone with the Wind'
life
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: National Account Manager / Key Account Sales

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for a...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join...

Recruitment Genius: Recruitment Consultant

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We have an excellent role for a...

Recruitment Genius: IT Support Analyst - Bristol

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: An IT Support Analyst is required to join the ...

Day In a Page

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

Marian Keyes

The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

Rodgers fights for his reputation

Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick