def060810 - No. 66

Session 2005-06, 08 August 2006

Publication of Report and comments

Publication of Report and comments



A report published today by the House of Commons Defence Committee raises concerns about equipment and overstretch in Iraq (Thirteenth Report of the Defence Committee, UK Operations in Iraq, HC 1241).

  • The MPs warn that UK Forces in Iraq face serious problems with equipment, particularly with Snatch Land Rovers and helicopters, that require urgent attention from the Ministry of Defence (MoD). Deficiencies in equipment and capability gaps must be addressed by the MoD as a matter of priority even if that means opting for interim solutions, the MPs say.

  • The Committee voices its concern about the pressures placed on UK Service personnel by the dual deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. The MPs say the MoD’s confidence that the UK’s Armed Forces are not overstretched contrasts with what they heard on the ground. And they warn that sustained breaches of Harmony Guidelines will damage the Service’s operational capability. The MPs say that what they saw in Iraq gives rise to a much broader question of whether the UK’s Armed are structured, equipped and trained for the role envisage for them by the MoD.

  • The Committee says the escalation of violence in South East Iraq in recent months poses an increased threat to UK troops. Progress has been made in the development of the Iraqi army and the transition of Muthanna is a positive development. But the MPs warn that serious challenges remain, especially in the development of the Iraqi Police Service. They say the real test of transition will be Basra, where significant obstacles remain.

Commenting on the report, Committee Chairman Rt Hon James Arbuthnot MP said “During our visit to Iraq, we were enormously impressed by the courage and dedication of UK Forces in the most challenging of circumstances. But we were disturbed by the deficiencies in equipment they faced. The MoD must address equipment shortages and capability gaps as a matter of urgency. Our Forces cannot wait for long term procurement projects to come to fruition; they need the kit now. We cannot send them on operations without giving them the tools they need to do the job.”


1. Committee Membership is as follows: Rt Hon James Arbuthnot MP (Chairman), Mr David S Borrow MP, Mr David Crausby MP, Linda Gilroy MP, Mr David Hamilton MP, Mr Mike Hancock MP, Mr Dai Havard MP, Mr Adam Holloway MP, Mr Brian Jenkins MP, Mr Kevan Jones MP, Robert Key MP, Mr Mark Lancaster MP, Willie Rennie MP, John Smith MP

2. News Release. 66


Media Enquiries: Jessica Bridges-Palmer, Tel 020 7219 0724 / 07841 737 349, email -

Specific Committee Information:  Tel 020 7219 5745, email -

Committee Website:

Watch committees and parliamentary debates online:

Publications / Reports / Reference Material: Copies of all select committee reports are available from the Parliamentary Bookshop (12 Bridge St, Westminster, 020 7219 3890) or the Stationery Office (0845 7023474).  Committee reports, press releases, evidence transcripts, Bills; research papers, a directory of MPs, plus Hansard (from 8am daily) and much more, can be found on