The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have been extremely controversial in the UK, not least for their apparent intractability and the difficulty of convincing the public and media that they were worth fighting. Whilst there has much media coverage of the wars, the role played by British troops and the British government’s leadership and management of the campaigns, there has been little analysis of the roles played by the senior military commanders who planned and led military operations in both theatres of war.
British Generals in Blair's Wars, published by Ashgate this month, is a new account of the challenges of military command during this decade. It based on a series of seminars held in Oxford in which senior British officers reflected on their experience of campaigning in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Based on this account, Professor Sir Hew Strachan and two other British participants in these wars showed how the art of command practiced by a generation of senior British officers developed in a period of rapid change, against a background of intense political controversy and some popular unease.
Professor Sir Hew Strachan is Chichele Professor of the History of War at All Souls College Oxford and an editor of British Generals in Blair's Wars.
General (Retd) Sir Nick Parker served as Deputy Commanding General of Multi-National Force Iraq in 2005/6 and as Deputy Commander of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan in 2009/10.
Desmond Bowen is a former UK Ministry of Defence senior civil servant. As the department’s Policy Director from 2004 to 2008, he was responsible for international security policy.
This meeting was chaired by Brigadier (Retd) Ben Barry, Senior Fellow Land Warfare at the IISS. It took place in the Lee Kuan Yew Conference Room at Arundel House, 13–15 Arundel Street, Temple Place, London WC2R 3DX.