Wednesday, July 7, 1999 Published at 20:38 GMT 21:38 UK
Government rejects Kosovo inquiry
Tories believe a review would provide useful lessons
The government has rejected Conservative calls for an independent review of the effectiveness of the Nato bombing of Yugoslavia.
Tory Defence Spokesman Iain Duncan Smith told the BBC his party supported the action over Kosovo but said some factors of the campaign had concerned them.
But defence ministers, backed by Prime Minister Tony Blair, have ruled out any inquiry into a campaign which they say achieved its aims.
Nato suspended its bombing of Yugoslavia on 10 June, the day after Belgrade agreed to a full military withdrawal from Kosovo and 11 weeks after the air campaign began.
Mr Duncan Smith said: "The government can't simply say, 'We are a Labour government, we are beyond approach, beyond question, whatever we say is right, there must never be a judgement made on us.'
"They must stop all this nonsense and say, 'Yes, we have nothing to hide, we think it is positive, it is a virtue we have an inquiry, let's have one now.'
"You've got ex-military chiefs saying the same, ministers in the House of Lords saying 'We don't know if we were right or wrong in the beginning.' Why don't we just have an inquiry and clear the decks."
"We need to know because if we don't know, when it comes time to deal with Mr Milosevic again or whoever takes over there and whoever decides to destabilise the region, we will have learnt the wrong lessons.
Defence Minister John Spellar said that after every engagement the Ministry of Defence held an internal examination.
Mr Spellar said: "The reality is we achieved our aims, we are in there now and we are actually trying to create stability in that country and also across in Bosnia, we've just picked up yet another war criminal showing the very professional job being done by our forces.
Military chiefs backing the Tories' call for an inquiry include the retired Field Marshall Lord Bramall and Marshall of the RAF Lord Craig.
Lieutenant General Sir Roderick Cordy-Simpson, a former United Nations chief of staff in Bosnia, also supports an inquiry.
"Clearly some things went correctly and some things did not.
"If we don't learn these lessons there is a real danger we could get our procurement cycle - ie, the buying of new weapons - and how we train our services to use them, wrong for the next war."
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