Examination of Witnesses(Questions 120-139)|
TEBBIT KCB, CMG, LIEUTENANT
REITH CB, CBE AND
MONDAY 21 OCTOBER 2002
120. So you are familiar with the climate there
too and Turkey does have a border with Iraq.
(Sir Kevin Tebbit) Yes, it has a border
with lots of countries.
121. One would appreciate with just a bit of
common sense that they are really quite different climates. Why
would you categorise this exercise as the A3, intermediate, Canadian,
when actually A1, extreme hot and dry, very high temperatures,
parts of the Middle East, would seem more appropriate?
(Sir Kevin Tebbit) Because the authorities
planning the exercise looked at the weather data and on that basis
expected it to be A3. They were wrong.
122. When the NAO did its fieldwork, paragraph
2.41, they ". . . encountered temperatures at Camp South
. . . of 46 degrees Celsius". If you had three years to plan
this exercise, presumably in each of those three years, probably
all the time, at least one member of MOD personnel was on site
in Oman. Could you not just have asked them to take some note
of what the climate was like while they were there?
(Sir Kevin Tebbit) A3 does still take
you up to 39C which is pretty warm.
123. Boots were melting.
(Sir Kevin Tebbit) No, no, they were
124. They were not?
(Sir Kevin Tebbit) No; not unless you
stood on a hot tank engine in shoes or chukka boots. Then they
might have melted, yes, they did.
125. They were falling apart but not melting.
(Sir Kevin Tebbit) They should not have
been doing that. It is purely based on the data which was used
to plan the exercise.
126. It was not to save money. You hesitate.
Could it possibly have been to save money?
(Sir Kevin Tebbit) I am just trying to
work out what you are suggesting.
127. I am suggesting you were trying to save
(Sir Kevin Tebbit) That we falsified
the weather conditions to save money. No; except on clothing.
Did you mean clothing?
(Sir Kevin Tebbit) It was not to save
money on clothing, it was actually to keep more stocks for operations.
129. One last question on the container handling
rough terrain system, page 18, paragraph 2.24. Of your 13 container
handling rough terrain pieces of equipment, eight were deployed
to Oman. Unfortunately the five-year contract to maintain these
vehicles only applied to the UK and Germany which means you cannot
get cover when you are on an expedition. Given that was the case,
and I understand that it might be prohibitively expensive to have
a global support agreement, why did you not make other arrangements
for having engineers on hand, perhaps member of the Royal Engineering
Corps, who knew how to handle these machines and repair them.
(Sir Kevin Tebbit) We are now looking
at extending the contract for container handling rough terrain
(Mr Oughton) KALMAR do provide support outside the
area for which they are contracted but it is done on a case by
case basis. In any exercise of this nature or deployment, it would
be open to us to go to the company and to negotiate a particular
regime for support. It is not that the company would not support
outside Germany and the UK.
130. But it would be at too high a price, which
brings us back to my question: why did you not do it in-house?
You know it is going to be prohibitively expensive to do it externally,
or you presume it is and the NAO seems to think it is and you
told the NAO it is. Why did you not therefore come to some sort
of alternative arrangement in-house?
(Mr Oughton) Because it is a very small
fleet of vehicles; 13 are in our inventory. They have a very specialist
task for operation in
131. It is a fork lift truck.
(Mr Oughton) It is more than a fork lift
truck. It is designed for operation in a very confined space where
a great deal of agility is required.
132. It is a very strong, agile fork lift truck.
A competent engineer would be able to cope with it, would they
(Mr Oughton) It is an extremely strong
and agile truck, but we have limited numbers of them. In those
circumstances, we would look at the cost-effectiveness of conducting
support ourselves or the cost-effectiveness of providing support
from contractors and we would judge that on a range of factors.
133. But you did not do either, did you?
(Mr Oughton) The equipment did work in
theatre; two equipments failed for different reasons, but the
majority worked in theatre.
134. A point of clarification, general. Are you
saying categorically to Mr Bacon that the there will be adequate
supplies of the A2 weapon in the foreseeable future if there were
an event in Iraq?
(Lieutenant General Reith) I did not
actually say that. What I said was that the intent is that all
those deployed would have the A2. We are in the middle of fielding
at the moment and I cannot be accurate because I do not know whether
we would go to Iraq,
because there are no decisions, and I do not know when. I cannot
guarantee that they will all be fielded, because I do not know
135. That is very, very different from the impression
you gave the Committee. Could you give us a note on that, in confidence
if you wish?
(Sir Kevin Tebbit) It would not be right
to speculate, because we cannot talk about Iraq. I have no authority
to do so and neither does the general, so we cannot answer your
136. What I will ask you is whether it will be
possible to equip a force of 20,000 by January. Could you let
us know that in confidence?
(Sir Kevin Tebbit) That is a very different
question and I am happy to give you the answer in confidence.
137. If we look at paragraph 6 of the report
it says that a number of key elements of the Joint Rapid Reaction
Forces concept were not chosen by the department for the demonstration.
That included the "rapid" part of rapid reaction. It
also included the "readiness" part of rapid reaction.
Those seem to be two of the most key elements of the rapid reaction
concept, so why were they not part of the aims of this exercise.
(Sir Kevin Tebbit) Because with an exercise
of this kind, planned with another country, one has to make trade-offs
about artificialities and one of the artificialities was that
this had to be planned over a period of time with the Government
of Oman. May I just say, though I am probably going to fall into
the same trap of criticising the report which I have agreed, that
we did actually demonstrate readiness. We actually got the troops
up to their readiness states in accordance with our Joint Rapid
Reaction Force guidelines. What we did not do was demonstrate
the deployment, because the deployment requires us to move these
people concurrently and rapidly using a combination of sea and
air, with the emphasis on air for the manpower. We did actually
move most of the manpower by air, but we did not use as much air
and we did not do it as rapidly as we would in a real operation.
That was partly because of the exercise artificiality of doing
this in conjunction with the Government of Oman and it was partly
for cost reasons. If we had deployed them with the speed we would
expect to in a real operation, it would have been prohibitively
expensive. We can do that, we know we can do that because we do
it if we go to Afghanistan or Kosovo or Sierra Leone or other
places. I am back to my point at the beginning. We learned an
awful lot of lessons here; lots of things were not perfect and
we have learned good lessons. The main thing to remember in the
context is that this was an exercise, it was not a real operation;
we learn from operations as well, this is not the only way of
demonstrating the Joint Rapid Reaction Force.
138. I understand that absolutely. So you believe
that both the "rapid" and the "readiness"
elements of the rapid reaction concept are already well tested.
(Sir Kevin Tebbit) Yes; the readiness
was demonstrated by this.
139. So you are not planning to test.
(Sir Kevin Tebbit) We did demonstrate
readiness by this exercise but not the rapid deployment.
4 Ref footnote to Q110. Back
Ref footnote to Q110. Back
Ref footnote to Q 110. Back
Note by witness: Yes. Over 41,000 weapons have already
been issued and they are continuing to be issued at the rate of
4000 per month. Should the operational situation require it, this
process can be accelerated as it was with Afghanistan. The forces
that might form part of any future deployment are already likely
to be in possession of the SA80 A2. Back