Final defence evidence at Iraq inquiry

By staff

The final round of questions for the defence establishment are being delivered by the Iraq inquiry today.

Sir Kevin Tebbit, former permanent secretary at the Ministry of Defence (MoD), said Gordon brown, then chancellor, insisted on a “complete guillotine” of defence spending just months after the invasion.

The £1 billion cut was “arbitrary”, he said, and he had been forced into running a crisis budget.

“In the December of 2003, the chancellor of the day instituted a complete guillotine on our settlement, and we were, from then on, controlled by cash rather than resources,” he said.

“It meant that we had to go in for a very major savings exercise.”

Former defence secretary John Reid followed. He told the inquiry only an appreciation for America’s experience in Vietnam would help explain the country’s approach to the aftermath of the invasion.

“Unless we reflect on that legacy of American military doctrine we won’t understand why in the past they weren’t that interested in detailed nation-building,” he said.

“An understanding of where they were coming from helps us realise where they were.”

The allegations of a budget cut from the treasury are just the latest headache to emerge from the inquiry for Mr Brown.

Several witnesses from the Treasury have discussed his activities while fighting was ongoing, and Clare Short spent some of the dramatic testimony yesterday telling the inquiry how the now prime minister was basically uninterested in the war.