LONDON, Nov. 22 (UPI) -- The British government misled the public and its forces were unprepared and poorly equipped for the 2003 invasion of Iraq, secret documents indicate.
The documents reveal "critical failure," "significant shortcomings," "absence of U.K. political direction" and "lessons learnt," Britain's Sunday Telegraph reported. The papers were leaked ahead of Tuesday's scheduled start of an Iraq inquiry headed by Sir John Chilcot, the newspaper said.
The documents indicate former Prime Minister Tony Blair misled the public and Parliament in 2002 when he said Britain's aim was "disarmament, not regime change," and there was no planning for military action. There was, in fact, preparation for invasion and overthrow of Saddam Hussein in 2002, The Telegraph said.
Commanders at all levels issued "post-operational" reports which said, in part, coalition forces were "ill-prepared and equipped to deal with the problems in the first 100 days" of the occupation and troops did not have enough or the right supplies. Some soldiers went into the field with only five bullets each and others had to travel to the war zone on civilian airlines, taking gear as hand luggage with weapons being confiscated by airport security.
One commander described the supply chain as "absolutely appalling."
"I know for a fact that there was one container full of skis in the desert," the commander is quoted as saying.
The Telegraph has not said whether it will publish the documents.