Chilcot: 'There was no post-war planning', says former RAF officer

Former Royal Air Force officer John Nichol has backed the Chilcot report's assessment Tony Blair didn't have any plans in place for after the Iraq War ended.

Sir John Chilcot delivering his report earlier today

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Former Royal Air Force officer John Nichol has backed the Chilcot report's assessment that Tony Blair didn't have any plans in place for after the Iraq War ended.

The findings of the Chilcot Inquiry were released today, and the government's action under Tony Blair have been heavily criticised.

Chilcot pointed out once Saddam Hussein had been deposed, the UK's "most consistent strategic objective in relation to Iraq was to reduce the level of its deployed forces" - in other words, recall the forces as soon as possible. 

On the penultimate page of his report, Sir John Chilcot wrote "the UK military role in Iraq ended a very long way from success."

Nichol, who spent time as a prisoner of war during the conflict, agreed with Chilcot's withering assessment.

"I thought the inquiry would say slim intelligence had been exaggerated to justify a pre-decided war which had no post-war planning," he told Julia Hartley-Brewer. "It was clear to anyone who'd been in the military.

"None of them ever say 'without a doubt' or 'we know this for certain', they always say 'it's possible', 'we think', and you could see immediately those intelligence reports were being 'sexed up' to justify the war.

"To be fair to Blair and Bush, this was in the aftermath of 9/11 and this was a huge concern. It's my personal belief is that Bush decided he was going to depose Saddam Hussein as a message, a punishment beating to the rest of that region. 

"If this had worked, it may have changed the course of history over the last ten years, but it didn't work because of the lack of post-war planning."

Tony Blair has come under fire in the wake of the findings. Nichol believes that while the former Prime Minister didn't outright lie, several details were stretched. 

"I don't think he lied," he added. "I think there were some adjustments of the reality.

"I would disagree with his assessment of what the Chilcot report says, because Chilcot clearly says they got it wrong.

"It says they got it wrong across the board from the planning, reasons, execution, and the aftermath."