Chilcot Iraq Inquiry: Key findings about service personnel welfare
The report of the Iraq Inquiry chaired by Sir John Chilcot contains a number of recommendations in connection with service personnel welfare. We don't see any surprises here, but would be glad to hear from any BAFF member who has views or questions about any part of the report.
This is from the 'Service Personnel' section of the Executive Summary (PDF):
• In 2002, the UK military was already operating at, and in some cases beyond, the limits of the guidelines agreed in the 1998 Strategic Defence Review. As a result, the Harmony Guidelines were being breached for some units and specialist trades.
• The Government’s decision to contribute a military force to a US‑led invasion of Iraq inevitably increased the risk that more Service Personnel would be put in breach of the Harmony Guidelines. The issue of the potential pressure on Service Personnel was not a consideration in the decision.
• The MOD planned and prepared effectively to provide medical care in support of Operation TELIC.
• There were major improvements in the provision of medical care, mental healthcare and rehabilitative care available to Service Personnel over the course of Op TELIC.
• Most of the contacts between the MOD and bereaved families were conducted with sensitivity. In a few cases, they were not. The MOD progressively improved how it engaged with and supported bereaved families, in part driven by consistent public and Ministerial pressure.
• The Government’s decision in 2006 to deploy a second medium scale force to Helmand province in Afghanistan further increased the pressure on Service Personnel, on elements of the MOD’s welfare, medical and investigative systems, and the coronial system.
• Much of the MOD’s and the Government’s effort from 2006 was focused on addressing those pressures.
• The MOD should have planned and prepared to address those pressures, rather than react to them.
• The Government should have acted sooner to address the backlog of inquests into the deaths of Service Personnel. The support it did provide, in June 2006, cleared the backlog.
• The MOD made a number of improvements to the Board of Inquiry process, but some proposals for more substantive reform (including the introduction of an independent member) were not fully explored. The MOD significantly improved the way it communicated with and supported bereaved families in relation to military investigations and inquests.
• The MOD was less effective at providing support to Service Personnel who were mobilised individually (a category which included almost all Reservists) and their families, than to formed units.
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