SAS man shoots down presidents and prime ministers…

25 Nov

Not literally, of course; but with the Iraq War now having gone past World War II (US version, that is) in length, and with yesterday in Iraq being even more tragic than the previous day, it was quite amazing to see on the front page of Rupert Murdoch’s Australian Wrong war, wrong time and Iraq a moral blunder, says war hero.

THE former SAS officer who devised and executed the Iraq war plan for Australia’s special forces says that the nation’s involvement has been a strategic and moral blunder. Peter Tinley, who was decorated for his military service in Afghanistan and Iraq, has broken ranks to condemn the Howard Government over its handling of the war and has called for an immediate withdrawal of Australian troops.

“It was a cynical use of the Australian Defence Force by the Government,” the ex-SAS operations officer told The Weekend Australian yesterday. “This war duped the Australian Defence Force and the Australian people in terms of thinking it was in some way legitimate.”

As the lead tactical planner for Australia’s special forces in the US in late 2002, Mr Tinley was in a unique position to observe intelligence on Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction program and the coalition’s military preparations in the lead-up to the war. Mr Tinley, 44, who retired from the army last year after a distinguished 25-year career, said the US-led coalition had been naive in its thinking about what it could achieve after a quick military invasion of Iraq…

“During our preparations for this war I remember hearing (ex-defence chief) General Peter Gration’s misgivings and assumed he did not possess all the information that our Prime Minister did,” he said. “I now reflect on his commentary with a completely different view and am saddened that other prominent people in our society didn’t speak louder at the time and aren’t continuing to speak out in light of what we now know.”

He said the Government had broken a moral contract with its defence force in sending it to an “immoral war”. The Government’s stance on Iraq and later on issues such as the Tampa had gradually allowed fear to become a motivating factor in the electorate, he said. Mr Tinley said the Howard Government had failed to be honest with Australians about Iraq and “you can’t separate the sentiment of the defence force from that of the people”.

He advocates an immediate pullout of Australia’s 500-strong task force in southern Iraq but accepts that security forces must be kept to guard the embassy in Baghdad. “Our 500 troops are in the south-west of Iraq under British tactical command while our US partners are doing all the heavy lifting in the remainder of the country,” he said. A more meaningful contribution could be through providing defence and security force training in a safer neighbouring country, such as Kuwait. “This is no slur on our soldiers. (Brigadier) Mick Moon and his men have been doing a fantastic job.”

See also, in the Sydney Morning Herald, Mike Carlton’s Regrets? Howard might have had a few but he’s certainly not telling.

Mind you, way back Brigadier Adrian D’Hage was saying such things. (I hope Adrian is still reading this blog; that glass of red hasn’t happened yet. 🙂 ) Now, as then, John Howard will put on his best lower lip extended stunned mullet look and proclaim his rightness despite all appearances… But I wish he had noted his colleagues in Canada and New Zealand and been rather more cautious in 2003 (or was that 2002?) in following the Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld Light Brigade into the Valley of Death.

Related post: When obstinacy becomes reality deficit… Note also I am not persuaded that it is a good idea to leave Iraq straight away, even if it has turned out rather clearly to have been the wrong war to have started.

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2 responses to “SAS man shoots down presidents and prime ministers…

  1. Mount Druitt

    November 25, 2006 at 11:02 am

    Adrian D’Hage? You’ve seen that guy’s writings? What is it with these private school military careerists? TE Lawrence disease? You take D’Hage seriously then your as kooky as he obviously is.

    So eliminating a rogue nuke threat, such as that which AQ Khan was spreading around the Islamic world before Iraq invasion revealed his network, is ‘wrong war’?

    I am grandson of an Anzac, sixth gen Aussie whose family lost more than its share of members in fighting for this country, and I say Tinley’s comments are disgraceful, ignorant, stupid, in fact delusional, and very very treasonous. I want his Order taken off him. I want him to publicly recant and apologise or face discipline for bringing our nation into disrepute.

    He cannot substantiate his claims, therefore he should withdraw them and be chastised. Bravery be damned, now it just looks like foolishness. Fools can be very brave too.

  2. ninglun

    November 25, 2006 at 1:05 pm

    Thanks, Mount Druitt. I also am a sixth generation etc… You substantiate none of your own claims, I notice, but do make a number of assertions, one of which may be libellous. Since when has criticism of government policy been treason? You leave us in no doubt about your feelings, but otherwise it is just hot air.

    Claims Tinley “can’t substantiate”, on the other hand, seem rather specific to me.

    The Australian team began detailed planning for the assault on western Iraq, which would include searching for Scud missiles that could be equipped with weapons of mass destruction. Not only would the search prove elusive but the only hard intelligence given to Tinley on possible Scud missile targets turned out to be six years old.

    “I couldn’t find any direct actionable intelligence linking any of the areas we were looking at in the west with WMD,” he tells Inquirer. “We were looking from just west of Baghdad all the way through to the Jordanian border and between the Syrian and Saudi borders. When I pressed them (US intelligence) for more specific imagery or information regarding locations or likely locations of WMD, they confessed, off the record, that there had not been any tangible siting of any WMD or WMD-enabling equipment for some years. It was all shadows and inferenced conversations between Iraqis.

    “There was an overwhelming desire for all of the planning staff to simply believe that the Iraqis had learned how to conceal their WMD assets away from the US assets.”

    The result, Tinley says, was that the Australian taskforce never really took the WMD search seriously, even though it had specialist combat engineers trained in search and containment.

    “It was clear to us all that as we cleared our area of responsibility, which was in the zone of all Scud launches during the first Gulf war, there wasn’t any sign whatsoever of WMD.

    “In the intelligence advice from the US there was a strong bias towards generalised assessments made by the Pentagon. Normally we would see in a process like this single agency reporting from places like the CIA. I found it quite interesting that we only got military sources, considering the strategic nature of our mission. For example, an estimation of 12 Scud missile launchers and missiles was made but when the rationale for such a prediction was probed, it turned out to be based on pre-’91 Gulf war estimates.”

    How much substantiation do you want?

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