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The Iraq War Inquiry – An Open Letter

HBHamish de Bretton Gordon, one of Britain’s foremost military experts on chemical warfare, Iraq, and Syria, calls for the findings of the UK’s inquiry on the war in Iraq to be made public now.

“To the Chilcott InquiryGuestsm

I find the inability for the findings of the Chilcott Inquiry not to be published, forthwith, completely reprehensible at this time.

The second anniversary of the gas attack on the Damascus suburb of Ghouta is today. It killed upwards of 1000 innocent civilians, but many politicians use the disaster of the 2003 invasion of Iraq as a reason for inertia after this massacre.

As one who served in both Gulf Wars, and tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, and having been into Syria a number of times in the last 2 years, I am confident to say that Syria is nothing like Iraq in 1990 or 2003.

The inaction by the international community, post Ghouta, excused by so called mis-action in 2003, has put us in a position where upwards of 300,000 are dead, and there are over 5 million refugees, including 1.5 million seeking shelter in the UK and Europe. Assad is still in power and the so called Islamic State controls vast tracts of Iraq and Syria. Military action, post Ghouta, as requested by President Obama would, in my opinion, have put us in a much better place today.

Parliament we are told will vote on extending action to defeat ISIS in Syria shortly, and this ‘fight of our generation’, which we can’t afford to lose, cannot be corrupted by so called mistakes of 2003. If there are statesmen, politicians and civil servants who are criticised by Chilcott – so be it. We live in a democracy and they should not be able to hide behind legalese to prevent their ‘misjudgements and failings’ being made public. Quite frankly if they are of any quality at all they should have decency to accept their errors. We owe this to my comrades we left on the battlefields of Iraq, whose families now rightly seek closure, and to this nation, to ensure we are not fighting ISIS on the streets of Britain for the next 10 years.

Yours sincerely

Hamish de Bretton-Gordon OBE (Col Retd)”


Hamish de Bretton-Gordon is a former commander of the UK’s CBRN Regiment.


De-classified documents made available to the inquiry can be found here.


5 Comments on "The Iraq War Inquiry – An Open Letter"

  1. Mahatmacoatmabag | 21st August 2015 at 12:33 pm | Reply

    Hamish, at the least the Chilcott has a higher chance of being published than the top secret Balen report into the BBC’s institutionalised anti-Israel bias

  2. Utrinque paratus | 21st August 2015 at 4:44 pm | Reply

    Despite the subject title of the letter this would appear to be a vehicle calling for action in Syria. As a veteran of both gulf conflicts myself, I note that the retired Colonel makes no mention of the military officer and leadership failings that i I believe should also be exposed by the enquiry.
    I note the writers description as a ‘foremost military expert on Chemical Warfare, Iraq and Syria’ and would be interested to understand what qualifies this statement. I would assume some indepth training and extensive studies in at least Chemistry, Arabic culture, language and socioeconomics with specific relevancy to the countries mentioned outside of the command training he undoubtedly acquired in his military career. Apologies for my jaded viewpoint but I find many self appointed ‘experts’ rarely have had that sobriquet bestowed upon them by their peers within their particular milieu of expertise.

    • Hello Utrinque. Mr De Bretton Gordon commanded the UK’s CBRN regiment, as well as the NATO version. He now works in the specialist area of defence against CBRN. He has made several trips into Syria in the last few years.
      He does not single out the military, as you point out, but I suspect the comment “We live in a democracy and they should not be able to hide behind legalese to prevent their ‘misjudgements and failings’ being made public” would include the military. However, I shall leave him to take that on should he wish. Tim

  3. Utrinque paratus | 21st August 2015 at 10:18 pm | Reply

    Tim many thanks for the response. I accept your remarks regarding the catch all statement as pontentially covering military failings.
    However after many years of service myself, I would like to suggest that being CO of a regiment shows command expertise (not to be taken lightly) but not subject matter expertise. I would assume Mr DeBretton Gordon did not spend his entire career in the field of CBRN and would be happy to proven wrong by information on his actual length of service and level of training in that particular field. I am merely trying to understand the use of the sobriquet ‘expert’ in this context. I would also assume that you aren’t suggesting that ‘making several trips’ to Syria would likewise confer the suggested ‘expert’ status regarding that country.

  4. Hamish de Bretton-Gordon | 22nd August 2015 at 9:31 am | Reply

    I’m always delighted to get feedback especially from military personnel but I find ‘Nom de Plume’ strange for an ex-soldier. Having dealt with chemical weapons and their issues on the battlefields of the world including Iraq & Syria over the last 2 years I have as much practical experience in this field as most. I understand senior military figures are for a slating from Chilcott and I hope it is not them who are ‘sea anchors’ in this case. And yes I do call for military action having seen the devastation at first hand in Syria in the back end of last year. ‘Fear Naught’ Hamish DBG

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