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
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: Accounts Assistant - Fixed Term Contract - 6 Months

£15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the largest hospitality companies...

Recruitment Genius: Electricians - Fixed Wire Testing

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: As a result of significant cont...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisor

£16575 - £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An excellent opportunity is ava...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Executive

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leading and innovative con...

Day In a Page

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map
Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

This was the year of 24-carat Golden Oldies
Paris Fashion Week

Paris Fashion Week

Thom Browne's scarecrows offer a rare beacon in commercial offerings
A year of the caliphate:

Isis, a year of the caliphate

Who can defeat the so-called 'Islamic State' – and how?
Marks and Spencer: Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?

Marks and Spencer

Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?
'We haven't invaded France': Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak

'We haven't invaded France'

Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak
Isis in Kobani: Why we ignore the worst of the massacres

Why do we ignore the worst of the massacres?

The West’s determination not to offend its Sunni allies helps Isis and puts us all at risk, says Patrick Cockburn
7/7 bombings 10 years on: Four emergency workers who saved lives recall the shocking day that 52 people were killed

Remembering 7/7 ten years on

Four emergency workers recall their memories of that day – and reveal how it's affected them ever since
Humans: Are the scientists developing robots in danger of replicating the hit Channel 4 drama?

They’re here to help

We want robots to do our drudge work, and to look enough like us for comfort. But are the scientists developing artificial intelligence in danger of replicating the TV drama Humans?
Time to lay these myths about the Deep South to rest

Time to lay these myths about the Deep South to rest

'Heritage' is a loaded word in the Dixie, but the Charleston killings show how dangerous it is to cling to a deadly past, says Rupert Cornwell
What exactly does 'one' mean? Court of Appeal passes judgement on thorny mathematical issue

What exactly does 'one' mean?

Court of Appeal passes judgement on thorny mathematical issue