The Military Army Blog

Former Territorial Army soldier Ashley Bowmer, of Seaton

A former Territorial Army soldier from Seaton has spoken out about the Iraq war following the publication this week of the long-awaited Chilcot report.

Former Territorial Army Soldier Ashley Bowmer, Of Seaton

Former Territorial Army soldier Ashley Bowmer, of Seaton

Ashley Bowmer, then a private in the TA, was an escort driver for the media for the invasion of Iraq and served in 2004-5 as an infantryman with the Welsh Guards. Ashley, 33, went on to serve in Afghanistan as a lance corporal before leaving the TA in 2010 when his daughter was born. He said Sir John Chilcot’s report had taken too long and cost too much to be of any worth.

He added: “I don t understand how it will actually change anything for the future.

“We already knew it was a poorly-planned and under-resourced invasion.”

Despite his concerns about the report, Ashley feels the country was justified going to war. He said: “It is shameful when a country’s ruler abuses the patriotism of its young adults for their political games but I don’t feel that our Government was guilty of this.

“If that was what this report was set up to investigate then I could understand it but I don’t think that was the aim.

“I always think it is forgotten that Saddam Hussein was given the ultimatum of showing us that he no longer had all of those chemicals, which he used on his own people, or we would enter his country and look ourselves, which we clearly did.

“There is proof that he had had the stuff because he had used it. I haven’t seen anything that says definitively what happened to it, where it went, when and how.

“I personally feel we were justified to go to war. Unfortunately all we proved was where the chemicals aren’t. Ashley’s thoughts are also with the families of the 179 British service personnel, including Workington’s Danny Wilson, who lost their lives in the war.

He said: “I wonder how it makes the bereaved feel to be told that their loved one died because someone misinterpreted the evidence or that they died trying to make peace following an illegal war.

“I suppose the cost of war is measured by the lives lost.”

Sir John Chilcot’s report spelled out some scathing criticism of the UK’s controversial war in Iraq. It said the UK chose to join the invasion of Iraq before “peaceful options for disarmament had been exhausted” and “Armyrats © military action at that time was not a last resort”. It added that Saddam Hussein had posed no immediate threat.

Tony Blair’s September 2002 Commons statement and dossier on Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction made judgements that “were presented with a certainty that was not justified”, it added. It concluded that the Labour Government’s policy on Iraq was made on the basis of “flawed intelligence and assessments” that should have been challenged. The consequences of the invasion were “under-estimated”, and post-conflict planning was “wholly inadequate”, it said.

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