Army issues uncovered
A secret Army report has revealed huge logistical problems faced by Australian forces in their invasion of Iraq 15 years ago.
Details in the report stretch all the way back to 2002, a year before John Howard announced Australia's involvement in the Iraq war.
“The Howard Government had decided early in 2002 that it was going to join the United States in any operation in Iraq whatever it might be, but it couldn't admit this to the public or even to the Australian Defence Force (ADF) at large,” says University of New South Wales’ Professor Clinton Fernandes.
“So only a few people within a very tight planning compartment were told about it.
“They had to plan in seclusion from the rest of the defence force — as a result there were lots of logistical problems.”
The RAAF is described in the report as having a “complete lack of strategic transport capability” and the government is criticised for its “inability to provide the ADF with a clear indication of its intentions and a timetable for the commitment of forces”.
“By failing to make a timely announcement on the nation's participation, the Howard government succeeded in boxing itself into a corner, while at the same time abdicating one of its few strategic decision opportunities to the United States,” the report states.
“Commanders also encountered problems in getting the staff they wanted”, because people with “optimum skills” did not have valid passports and visas.
“The Expeditionary Combat Support Squadron deployed without key personnel items including individual protection equipment, combat body armour and camouflage clothing,” the report reads.