Military Leadership in the Iraq and Afghan Wars: Why was Success so Elusive?

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A lecture by Major General (Ret’d) Christopher Elliott CB MBE, Visiting Professor, Cranfield University.

From 2001, Britain supported the United States in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. ‘Victory’ in such conflicts is Major General Ret’d Christopher Elliott CB MBEalways 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.

While Britain’s senior officers, defence ministers and civil servants were undeniably competent and well intentioned, the conundrum remains why success on the battlefield proved so elusive. In his lecture, Major General Elliott will explore how the Ministry of Defence coped with the challenges presented. He will discuss how the Service Chiefs were set at odds by the system, almost as rivals in the making, with responsibility diffuse and authority ambiguous.

Major General (Ret’d) Christopher Elliott CB MBE retired from the British Army in 2002, having held a number of senior appointments in the Ministry of Defence, including: Director of Military Operations, Commander 6th Armoured Brigade, Director of the Higher Command and Staff Course, Director General of Army Training and Recruiting, and Director General of Doctrine and Development.  In his second career, he was Director of Strategy for General Dynamics United Kingdom, Chairman and Co-Founder of Purple Secure Systems Ltd, Consultant for Ove Arup and Partners and President of Victim Support Wiltshire. He is a Visiting Professor at Cranfield University.

Major General Elliott will be on hand to sign copies of his latest book entitled ‘High Command: British Military Leadership in Iraq and Afghanistan’ (Hurst: January 2015), which will be on sale.

An optional £10 sandwich lunch shall be available from 1215.

This event is open to all RUSI members. To become a member, please click here.

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