Friday, July 06, 2007

Weekend reading

The Pat Finucane Centre has struck gold with this previously secret British Army evaluation of their experience in Northern Ireland. The document, given the title of the Army's umbrella name for its operations in Northern Ireland, is called Operation Banner. We're reading it. In view of the terminological wars that have been waged over the years in parallel with the actual Troubles, the document begins by setting out the definitions e.g.

‘Ulster’ is an historic province of Ireland – the others being Munster, Leinster and Connaught. Ulster comprised the six counties now forming Northern Ireland and three others. Therefore it is not strictly correct to describe Northern Ireland as ‘Ulster’, nor as ‘The Province’.

If you're ever looking for an official source when this issue arises, you just got it.

[More to come ... analogies to Iraq will be particularly interesting ...]

Internment (paragraphs 219-220) -- The Rt Hon Brian Faulkner, Stormont Prime Minister since 23 March 1971, persuaded the Rt Hon Edward Heath, the British Prime Minister, to support Internment, contrary to military advice. The Army and RUC were poorly prepared: suspect lists were badly out of date and detention facilities were inadequate. The former led to many of the wrong people being arrested and the latter meant that those arrested could not be properly segregated during screening. In addition the Army subjected a small number11 to deep interrogation techniques which had been developed in other theatres during the 1950s and 1960s.1

Operation DEMETRIUS, the introduction of Internment, was in practice an operational level reverse. A considerable number of terrorist suspects were interned: the net total of active IRA terrorists still at large decreased by about 400 between July and December 1971. A very large amount of intelligence had been gained: the number of terrorists arrested doubled in six months. However, the information operations opportunity handed to the republican movement was enormous. Both the reintroduction of internment and the use of deep interrogation techniques had a major impact on popular opinion across Ireland, in Europe and the US. Put simply, on balance and with the benefit of hindsight, it was a major mistake.

Note the phrase "deep interrogation techniques" which is a variation on the "enhanced interrogation techniques" of the GWOT, which, remember, were themselves justified by reference to Northern Ireland.


The Discussion of Operation Motorman has a lot of Surge echoes (page 19) ... note in particular the high concentration of troops in just two areas -- very hard to replicate that strategy in a place the size of Iraq.

1 A later discussion in the document indicates that "other theatres" refers to Malaya, Kenya, Aden and Cyprus, an overlap that we've noted before. And here's a previous post of ours on the Pat Finucane case, one of the egregious outstanding matters from the Troubles.

No comments: