First people invited to war memorial ceremony should have been relatives of the dead, says former Afghan commander

War memorial: 'The first people invited to the ceremony should have been relatives of the dead', says Colonel

The memorial was unveiled at Victoria Embankment Gardens

Thursday, March 9, 2017

The first people invited to the opening of a new war memorial in central London should have been relatives of the fallen, says the former commander of British forces in Afghanistan.

Relatives of soldiers killed in Afghanistan have criticised the military for not being invited to the unveiling of a new war memorial in central London honouring those who fought in the Gulf campaigns, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Colonel Richard Kemp, who was sent to Afghanistan to command British troops in 2003, told Julia Hartley-Brewer that "the highest priority for people being present" should have gone to relatives of those who gave their lives.

However, he added, it was also right that "leaders, prime ministers, former prime minsters and generals" attended to show support.

The Afghanistan and Iraq campaigns, prompted by the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, were accompanied by ferocious criticism of the government, with many subsequently accusing then-prime minister Tony Blair of war crimes.

Kemp believes that, while it is unfair to level such charges at Blair, he did make "misjudgments and errors." 

Listen to the full interview above