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Lord Bramall: My Lords, I apologise for interrupting the Minister, but can he inform the House whether a Commander British Forces Gulf has been appointed, like General de la Billiere? If that were done I believe that it would give this House
Lord Gilbert: My Lords, as always, I am obliged to the noble and gallant Lord. We have already appointed a commander, JCO or JOC--I forget all these initials--of our forces out there. I do not believe that the noble and gallant Lord should have any concerns about the sensible deployment of our forces if, unfortunately, we have to use the military option.
Our forces are there and they are in good heart. I told those whom I was able to meet how very proud of them we were and that we very much hoped that we would not have to call on their courage and skills in the days and weeks ahead, but I could give them no guarantees that that would not be the case.
I believe that the noble Baroness, Lady Williams, asked me to give a guarantee that these events would not recur in two or three months' time even if we got a satisfactory temporary military solution. Unfortunately one can give absolutely no guarantees of that kind. Such is the nature of Saddam Hussein that at the last minute he might back down, we would all go home and he would start his capers all over again in six months' time. There are risks in action and in inaction. We very much hope that it will not come to military action, but if need be our forces are ready and I am sure that they will have the full support of the House. I commend the Motion to the House.
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