About The Book

Operation Telic by Tim Ripley


The British Campaign in Iraq 2003-2009 By Tim Ripley

Foreword by Andrew Gilligan 549 pages, four maps

Waging Britain’s Most Unpopular War?

The campaign in Iraq between March 2003 and June 2009 deeply polarised British politics, contributing to the fall from power of Prime Minister Tony Blair and seriously damaging the reputation, at home and abroad, of the British armed forces. Eleven years on from the start of the war, it is now possible to learn real lessons from the campaign. Delays in publishing the Chilcott Inquiry into the Iraq make it even more important to learn from the Iraq experience, yet the Ministry of Defence refused to co-operate with the author in the writing of this book. Operation Telic: The British Campaign in Iraq 2003-2009 book draws upon many new sources of information about Operation Telic, including:

  • Using for first time uncensored British and Coalition military documents and maps from units that participated in the campaign
  • Internal British Army publications, giving first hand accounts of the campaign
  • Exclusive interviews with senior British commanders and military personnel

Tim Ripley’s Operation Telic reveals startling new information about the conduct of Britain’s war ill-fated in Iraq. For the first time it tells the story of the campaign from the perspective of commanders and troops on the ground, establishing a new standard for historical accounts of Britain’s wars in the 21st Century.

  • Far from having a ‘secret master plan’ to take Britain to war in Iraq, Prime Minister Tony Blair’s haphazard and chaotic ‘sofa government’ left Britain’s commanders and troops struggling to get to the Middle East with the right equipment and plans in the days before the war.
  • For the first time, senior British officers and soldiers tell the inside story of the Battle for Basra in 2003, including – How British Special Forces and Intelligence chiefs misjudged the Iraqi army’s will to fight and launched dangerous and ill-conceived missions to persuade Saddam Hussein’s generals and troops to surrender. – The real story of how Saddam Hussein’s henchman Chemical Ali escaped the city after repeated British attempts to kill him despite claims by the British military ‘spin machine’ that he was dead. – For the first time, the story of how British airborne troops were stopped at an hours notice from joining the US advance on Baghdad is revealed.
  • How the British Army rushed to withdraw its troops from Iraq after the defeat of Saddam Hussein army, leaving the occupation forces hard-pressed to cope with the resulting mayhem. Secret documents and testimony reveal that army chiefs knew Iraq was on the edge of anarchy but refused to ask ministers for more troops.
  • Dramatic accounts of Special Forces operations in southern Iraq from 2003 to 2008 as they waged an increasingly brutal war against Shia militia fighters.
  • How the drive to train up the fledgling Iraqi army stumbled as a result of confusion in the British military establishment and obstruction from Iraq’s prime minister Nouri al-Maliki.
  • The secret decisions by military chiefs to switch troops from Iraq to Afghanistan that left Britain “waging a war on two front”, with not enough resources to succeed in either theatre.
  • The deadly duel to defeat militia road side bombs and enhance the protection of British armoured vehicles, including for the first time the full story of the battle to replace the infamous ‘Snatch Land Rover”, revealing how military bureaucracy and government penny pinching delayed the hunt for a replacement to the thinly armoured vehicle, costing the lives of dozens of soldiers.
  • British troops describe for the first time their experiences guarding a controversial prison camp in Basra, including how military chiefs and ministers ignored requests to improve conditions.
  • The secret missions into the heart of Basra by British troops during the Charge of Knights offensive in 2008 that defeated Iraq’s Shia militia are revealed for the first time.
  • How the ‘business as usual’ attitude in the Ministry of Defence in London was out of touch with the escalating conflict in Iraq. Priority was give to officer promotions over combat effectiveness, which undermined the adoption of an effective war strategy in Iraq.

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Reviews for Tim Ripley’s Operation Telic

“This is the best I have yet read on Iraq”
Maj Gen Jonathan Shaw, commander British forces in Basra during 2007

“Thought provoking…I hope people will buy the book and debate the points its raises”
Lt Gen Robin Brims, Commander 1 (UK) Armoured Division during the assault on Basra in 2003

“Tim Ripley has done an amazing job piecing all this together – it is fascinating and has great pace and an engaging narrative.”
Lt Col Nicholas Mercer, Chief Legal Advisor to British Forces in Iraq 2003

Operation Telic – Chapter Listing

Foreword by Andrew Gilligan Writing Operation Telic The Background to the writing of this book

Chapter 1. Telic Tour How British soldiers were prepared for tours of duty in Iraq

Chapter 2. The Commanders The senior commanders who led Operation Telic

Chapter 3. The Iraqis Saddam Hussein’s army prepares for battle

Chapter 4. Planning the War Initial British planning in 2002 for the Iraq war

Chapter 5. To Kuwait The last minute switch to Kuwait

Chapter 6. The Battle Plan Fiinal preparations for action by British forces

Chapter 7. Across the Border First days of the advance into Iraq

Chapter 8. Taking Down Zubayr The para-military stronghold of Zubayr is captured Chapter 9. Holding the Basra Canal 7 Armoured Brigade’s battle outside Basra

Chapter 10. Royal Marines vs. T-55s 3 Commando Brigade drive up the al Faw

Chapter 11. To the Gates of Baghdad UK Airborne Troops, Special Forces and Airpower join the US advance on the Iraqi capital

Chapter 12. Fall of Basra The final drive to capture Basra Chapter 13. Military Judgement The first three months of the occupation of Basra

Chapter 14. Basra Summer The faltering occupation of Basra in the summer of 2003

Chapter 15. A Mature Theatre Moves to a long-term presence in Iraq

Chapter 16. Street Fighting Summer The British Army fights the Sadr Militia in 2004

Chapter 17. Buying Influence The Black Watch deploys to help the US attack on Fallujah

Chapter 18. The Trainers British Army efforts to train Iraqi security forces

Chapter 19. The Divorce The outbreak of open resistance to the British in Basra between 2005-06

Chapter 20. RAF Against Insurgents RAF airpower in the US counter-insurgency campaign

Chapter 21. Good Kit? Bad Kit? An assessment of the performance of the British Army’s equipment in Iraq

Chapter 22. The Duel British troops faced escalating resistance in the summer of 2006

Chapter 23. The Accommodation A deal is reached to bring an end to the fighting with Basra’s insurgents

Chapter 24. Operation Charge of the Knights The controversial role of British troops in the offensive that defeated the Basra insurgents

Chapter 25. Time to Go The final withdrawal of British forces from Iraq

Operation Telic: Looking Back Operation Telic Commanders, Headquarters and Major Units 2003 to 2009

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