LONDON - The former head of the British armed forces General Sir Mike Jackson, yesterday said that the violence in post-war Iraq was "much exacerbated by the security vacuum created by Washington's appalling decisions" to disband the Iraqi security forces. Removal of Saddam Hussein's civil service loyalists had doubled the time coalition forces had to remain in Iraq, he says. In his article in The Sunday Telegraph, he has accused the Americans of "appalling" decision-making during the Iraq war. General Sir Mike, who was head of the British Army at the time of the war, adds that the US policy to "de-Baathify" Iraq doubled the time taken to reach the point where the coalition could consider a withdrawal from the country. The general also adds that Iranian backing for Shia militias, a development which led to hundreds of British casualties, further complicated the post-war environment. The former defence chief, who said that he believed the campaign had been successful, was also critical of the US and British governments for failing to "understand fully" the complexity of the situation in Iraq and to create a proper reconstruction plan. " Asif Mehmood The general writes that the euphoria which followed the toppling of Saddam was short-lived because of various factions inside Iraq began to use violence in pursuit of political objectives. But he further writes that the coalition, which suffered from political and military infighting, achieved "tremendous successes" including a referendum on a new Iraqi constitution and the subsequent elections, the creation of a new Iraqi security force and the avoidance of outright civil war. Of the 136 troops who died in Iraq and the thousands injured, the general says that their deaths and wounds "were not in vain but rather suffered in the noble cause of a better future for Iraq and the region as a whole."