Tornados and Desiros
British politicians were unable to hold generals to account over strategy in Afghanistan because of their ignorance of military affairs, with one minister admitting they “did not know the difference between a Tornado and a torpedo”, a former ambassador has said.
[“Ministers ‘didn’t know Tornado from torpedo’ over Afghan strategy”, Ben Farmer, Daily Telegraph online, 16 Dec 2014]
Ministers, commanders and officials were also engaged in “a massive act of collective self deception” about the prospects for success during the Afghan campaign and unable to admit how badly it was going.
Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles said officials claimed that progress was being made because they desperately wanted it to be.
Unfortunately, the same inability to challenge and lack of knowledge seems to hobble both scrutiny and decision-making in other departmental areas, such as transport. Few MPs showed much interest in the Intercity Express Programme or Thameslink train procurements, or the specification of the HS2 project.