London, Nov. 22 (ANI): The British mission in Iraq faced "critical failure" because former Prime Minister Tony Blair misled the nation by claiming that Britain's objective was "disarmament, not regime change" and that concealment constrained the planning process for the military action, according to secret government reports.
Hundreds of pages of secret Government reports on "lessons learnt" obtained by The Telegraph shed new light on "significant shortcomings" at all levels.
Frank classified interviews with British Army commanders reveal that Blair misled MPs and the public throughout 2002.
The need to conceal Britain's real objective in Iraq from Parliament resulted in a "rushed" operation "lacking in coherence and resources" which caused a "significant risk" to troops and "critical failure" in the post-war period.
Operations were so under-resourced that some troops went into action with only five bullets each. Others had to deploy to war on civilian airlines, with some of them having their weapons confiscated by airport security.
Commanders reported that the Army's main radio system "tended to drop out at around noon each day because of the heat".
One described the supply chain as "absolutely appalling", saying: "I know for a fact that there was one container full of skis in the desert."
A Foreign Office unit to plan for post-war Iraq was set up only in late February 2003, three weeks before the war started.
Field commanders raged at Whitehall's "appalling" and "horrifying" lack of support for reconstruction, with one top officer saying that the Government "missed a golden opportunity" to win Iraqi support.
Another commander said: "It was not unlike 1750s colonialism where the military had to do everything ourselves." (ANI)