Iraq inquiry: Army 'almost seized up' in 2006 (UK)

Troop commitments in Iraq and Afghanistan created the "perfect storm" for an overstretched army, a former Army chief has told the Iraq inquiry.

Gen Sir Richard Dannatt said the Ministry of Defence's projections of required troop commitments differed from Army estimates.

He said the Army had come close to "seizing up" in 2006.

New documents revealed Gen Sir Mike Jackson warned in 2005 the helicopter fleet in Iraq was "inadequate".

Gen Dannatt, who became Chief of the General Staff in August 2006, said the Army had a chart showing the projected fall of force levels in Iraq with the projected rise in force levels in Afghanistan from the MoD's point of view.

"We overlaid on that our best estimate of how force levels would continue to stay high in Iraq, and possibly increase, and for us that was the perfect storm," he said.

"We could see that perfect storm coming to fruition in about the middle of 2006, late 2006, and I would contend that it did."

He also told the inquiry that the Military Covenant - which sets out the nation's obligations to its fighting men and women - had, he said, been getting "progressively out of balance" in terms of pay, conditions, accommodation and equipment.

When he took over in 2006 he had warned publicly that the Army, which was taking on the major new commitment in Afghanistan, had been "running hot".

He said: "You can run hot when you are in balance and there is enough oil sloshing around the engine to keep it going. When the oil is thin, or not in sufficient quantity, the engine runs the risk of seizing up.

"I think we were getting quite close to a seizing-up moment in 2006."...

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