• FREE
  • Chelsea, London
  • FREE
  • Chelsea, London

Iraq 2003: The Road to War

British troops advance past abandoned Iraqi tanks, 2003

Twenty years on, Brigadier Justin Maciejewski and Lieutenant Colonel Chris Parker look back at the British Army's preparations for the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

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From 2001 to 2004, Justin Maciejewski was the lead operations officer for the 1st (United Kingdom) Armoured Division, a formation of about 25,000 soldiers based in Germany. This was the Army’s primary warfighting formation and was at the centre of planning for the invasion of Iraq in 2002-03. 

The Division deployed to Kuwait in early 2003, comprising over 30,000 troops, and was at the heart of Operation Telic, the United Kingdom’s contribution to the US-led coalition that entered Iraq on 21 March.

Chris Parker was Chief of Staff 7th Armoured Brigade (The Desert Rats) from 2001 (Kosovo) to 2003 (Iraq War). As the largest component part of 1st (UK) Armoured Division, the Desert Rats moved from Germany to Kuwait for warfighting operations into Iraq.

In this revealing first-hand account, Justin and Chris will reflect on the Division’s road to war, from the beginning of its journey in September 2001 to the invasion.

About the speakers

Justin Maciejewski

Justin Maciejewski DSO MBE is the Director of the National Army Museum. After a 27-year career in the British Army, he joined McKinsey & Company as a management consultant.

His last appointment in the Army was Director Combat, the professional head of the Royal Armoured Corps and the Infantry. Prior to that, he had extensive command and staff experience and was awarded the Distinguished Service Order (DSO) after commanding 2nd Battalion The Rifles in Iraq.

Chris Parker

Lieutenant Colonel Chris Parker MBE served in the British Army for 18 years, deploying on 9 combat and operational tours. He was the youngest lieutenant colonel of his generation at 35.

In 2007, he left the Army for leadership roles in the construction, oil and gas, and cybersecurity sectors. Chris is a visiting lecturer at Cranfield University for the Chevening Fellowship and a Fellow of the Tällberg Foundation.

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