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High Command: British Military Leadership in the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars

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From 2001, Britain supported the United States in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. "Victory" in such conflicts is always hard to gauge and domestic political backing for them was never robust. For this, the governments of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown were held responsible, and paid the price, but the role played by the High Command in the Ministry of Defence also bears examina From 2001, Britain supported the United States in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. "Victory" in such conflicts is always hard to gauge and domestic political backing for them was never robust. For this, the governments of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown were held responsible, and paid the price, but the role played by the High Command in the Ministry of Defence also bears examination. Critics have noted that the armed services were riven by internal rivalry and their leadership was dysfunctional, but the truth is more complicated. In his book, General Elliott explores the circumstances that led to these wars and how the Ministry of Defence coped with the challenges presented. He reveals how the Service Chiefs were set at odds by the system, almost as rivals in the making, with responsibility diffuse and authority ambiguous. The MoD concentrated on making things work, rather than questioning whether what they were being asked to do was practicable. Often the opinion of a junior tactical commander led the entire strategy of the MoD, not the other way around, as it should have been. While Britain's senior officers, defense ministers and civil servants were undeniably competent and well intentioned, the conundrum remains why success on the battlefield proved so elusive.


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From 2001, Britain supported the United States in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. "Victory" in such conflicts is always hard to gauge and domestic political backing for them was never robust. For this, the governments of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown were held responsible, and paid the price, but the role played by the High Command in the Ministry of Defence also bears examina From 2001, Britain supported the United States in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. "Victory" in such conflicts is always hard to gauge and domestic political backing for them was never robust. For this, the governments of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown were held responsible, and paid the price, but the role played by the High Command in the Ministry of Defence also bears examination. Critics have noted that the armed services were riven by internal rivalry and their leadership was dysfunctional, but the truth is more complicated. In his book, General Elliott explores the circumstances that led to these wars and how the Ministry of Defence coped with the challenges presented. He reveals how the Service Chiefs were set at odds by the system, almost as rivals in the making, with responsibility diffuse and authority ambiguous. The MoD concentrated on making things work, rather than questioning whether what they were being asked to do was practicable. Often the opinion of a junior tactical commander led the entire strategy of the MoD, not the other way around, as it should have been. While Britain's senior officers, defense ministers and civil servants were undeniably competent and well intentioned, the conundrum remains why success on the battlefield proved so elusive.

30 review for High Command: British Military Leadership in the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars

  1. 4 out of 5

    Tony Selhorst

    In “High Command: British Military Leadership in the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars”, Christopher Elliott paints a picture on British political/military level decision making during both conflicts. He describes the alarming disconnect between plans made on the highest level and the realities on the ground, at first sight a case of "too high ambitions" versus "not enough resources". The more interesting part of the book is Elliott's root cause analyses on how the disconnect was inevitable to happen, d In “High Command: British Military Leadership in the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars”, Christopher Elliott paints a picture on British political/military level decision making during both conflicts. He describes the alarming disconnect between plans made on the highest level and the realities on the ground, at first sight a case of "too high ambitions" versus "not enough resources". The more interesting part of the book is Elliott's root cause analyses on how the disconnect was inevitable to happen, due to cultural and historical backgrounds, the challenges of coalition warfare (and being the smaller contributor), the pleasing of the public and the politicians, but above all the problem of creating a professional cadre of strategic level thinking military officers. A must read for all my fellow Advanced Command and Staff Course - or War College officers, as this book describes the gap between theory and practice.

  2. 4 out of 5

    D Jackson

  3. 5 out of 5

    Stuart

  4. 4 out of 5

    Edgar Raines

  5. 4 out of 5

    Wilson

  6. 4 out of 5

    MR

  7. 5 out of 5

    Elsie Njeb

  8. 5 out of 5

    Thomas Baynes

  9. 4 out of 5

    Alexander Giles

  10. 5 out of 5

    Thor Toms

  11. 4 out of 5

    Janne Kautto

  12. 5 out of 5

    Johnny O'Brien

  13. 5 out of 5

    Owen James

  14. 5 out of 5

    Ben Toye

  15. 4 out of 5

    J H COENEN

  16. 4 out of 5

    Siobhan & Will Edwards-Bannon

  17. 5 out of 5

    Darryl Williams

  18. 4 out of 5

    Ryan Wulfsohn

  19. 4 out of 5

    Ross Mahoney

  20. 5 out of 5

    Nigel Chimiczewski

  21. 4 out of 5

    Ryan

  22. 4 out of 5

    Edward Mills

  23. 4 out of 5

    Mr Nicholas Walton

  24. 4 out of 5

    Mark Evans

  25. 4 out of 5

    Simon Akam

    Read as part of research for my book project...

  26. 5 out of 5

    B Ben

  27. 4 out of 5

    Alex

  28. 4 out of 5

    James Torrance

  29. 5 out of 5

    Neill Hunt

  30. 5 out of 5

    Swmak

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