Britiske offiserer som vendte tilbake fra Irak ble intervjuet av militære, og disse intervjuene har Telegraph fått tilgang til. De forteller om dyp frustrasjon: britene ble ikke lyttet til eller hørt. Amerikanerne fortalte dem ikke en gang om ting som skulle skje som hadde betydning for britenes område. Amerikanerne hadde også en helt annen innstilling. Det var som om de kom fra en annnen planet, sier en oberst.
In the papers, the British chief of staff in Iraq, Colonel J.K.Tanner, described his US military counterparts as «a group of Martians» for whom «dialogue is alien,» saying: «Despite our so-called ‘special relationship,’ I reckon we were treated no differently to the Portuguese.»
Col Tanner’s boss, the top British commander in the country, Major General Andrew Stewart, told how he spent «a significant amount of my time» «evading» and «refusing» orders from his US superiors.
At least once, say the documents, General Stewart’s refusal to obey an order resulted in Britain’s ambassador to Washington, Sir David Manning, being summoned to the State Department for a diplomatic reprimand – of the kind more often delivered to «rogue states» such as Zimbabwe or the Sudan.
The frank statements were made in official interviews conducted by the Ministry of Defence with Army commanders who had just returned from Operations Telic 2 and 3 – the first, crucial year of «peacekeeping» operations in Iraq, from May 2003 to May 2004.
A set of classified transcripts of the interviews, along with «post-operational reports» by British commanders, has been leaked to the Daily Telegraph.
The disclosures come the day before the Chilcot inquiry is due to begin public hearings into Britain’s involvement in Iraq. Among the issues it will investigate is the UK-US relationship.
The leaked documents paint a vivid picture of the clash between what General Stewart described as «war-war» American commanders and their British counterparts, who he said preferred a «jaw-jaw» approach.
General Stewart bluntly admitted that «our ability to influence US policy in Iraq seemed to be minimal.» He said that «incredibly,» there was not even a secure communication link between his headquarters in Basra and the US commander, General Rick Sanchez, in Baghdad.
Col Tanner said that General Sanchez «only visited us once in seven months.» Col Tanner also added that he only spoke to his own US counterpart, the chief of staff at the US corps headquarters in the Green Zone, once over the same period.
Top British commanders angrily described in the documents how they were not even told, let alone consulted, about major changes to US policy which had significant implications for them and their men.