Highly critical comments by a senior army officer asked to conduct a study of the circumstances surrounding the invasion of Iraq have been suppressed on the orders of the country's top defence officials, the Guardian has learned.
The study, by Lt Gen Chris Brown, was commissioned in the light of mounting evidence of the failure to prepare properly for the invasion and its consequences.
Former senior military officers and defence officials have already described their anger and frustration about the failures in damning testimony to the Chilcot inquiry into the 2003 Iraq invasion. One of the inquiry's key objectives is to spell out the lessons that should be learned from what is widely regarded in Whitehall as an ill-conceived operation of dubious legality and, in foreign policy terms, a disaster comparable to the 1956 Suez crisis.
Against this background, the Ministry of Defense agreed to conduct its own study. However, Brown's criticisms were so harsh that they have been suppressed following the intervention of Air Chief Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup, chief of the defense staff, and other officials, who considered them too embarrassing even for internal consumption at the MoD.