Former soldier Steve McLaughlin, from Lytham, detailed his journey from basic training to the post-war chaos in Iraq in his book Squaddie: A Soldier’s Story.
Steven joined the Royal Green Jackets and did a three year stint as a Combat Infantryman, serving in Iraq and Northern Ireland.
My view is that the Chilcot Report is a very good report. Very solid. He’s done a very good job
He was given special dispensation to earn a place in the regiment at the age of 30 after his brother, a Green Jacket for six years, died in a car smash at the age of 25.
He believes the Iraq War was illegal, and the reason for the rise of terrorism in the Middle East.
He said: “My view is that the Chilcot Report is a very good report. Very solid. He’s done a very good job.
“He is a typical Government mandarin and they often provide very safe and uncontroversial reports but it’s very unusual for a member of the establishment to almost turn on another – and that’s what he’d done.
“That being said, my only criticism is I think he could have gone further.
“He said his remit was not a criminal inquiry, but emphasised that case for going to war was ‘very far from satisfactory’. Reading between the lines, he’s saying it was illegal. I think he’s called it right, so every credit to the guy.
“Personally, I think the war was illegal and Tony Blair and his associates should face criminal charges.
“If you look at what’s happened in the Middle East since 2003, the fall of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi and the near-fall of Assad, it all leads back to the Iraq war.
“When Saddam Hussein was in charge, there was no real Al-Qaeda, they were diametrically opposed to each other. After he went, they became established in Iraq and that led to the rise of ISIS.
“All of it directly tracks back to the Iraq war. It unleashed a wave of terrorism in the Middle East.
“The way we handled it has proved a wonderful recruitment tool for these idiots. We know Saddam Hussein and Gaddafi were terrible, but there was no point going for them with no plan for replacing them.
“I’m a patriotic ex-soldier. I know right from wrong.
“On this occasion, I think we did a very wrong thing.
“I feel so lucky to be here. I could have been one of the names on that list. I have every respect for the Thornton family and how they’ve been fighting for their son, and all the families of the fallen who are fighting this.”