Ministers were warned of a "serious risk" that the military would not have all the equipment it needed to invade Iraq because of the rush to war, the head of the armed forces has said.
Air Chief Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup told the Iraq inquiry sitting in London that defence chiefs "simply didn't have enough time" to source everything they wanted before the March 2003 invasion.
He said it would have made a "significant difference" if the military had been given the full six months considered necessary to prepare for a large deployment.
In the event they had just four months.
Sir Jock, who was deputy chief of defence staff (equipment) at the time of the invasion, singled out problems with supplying enough body armour, desert combats and boots for front-line troops.
He said: "The problem of course was that we simply didn't have enough time, as it turned out, to do everything we needed to do before the operation started."
Asked whether having an extra two months to prepare for the war would have helped, he said: "I think it would have made a significant difference. That's 50 per cent additional time."
He also admitted military chiefs were "very nervous" about overstretching British forces when the government decided to deploy extra troops to southern Afghanistan in January 2006.
"There was absolutely this concern about the overlap between Iraq and Afghanistan and the doubt whether we would actually be able to reduce in Iraq quite as quickly as we were planning at that time," he said.
He added: "We would have preferred to see some substantive draw-down movement in our deployment in Iraq before going into Afghanistan."
Foreign Minister Alistair Burt's admission that the Cameron government has "supported" a survey of attitudes to US drone strikes in Pakistan's tribal areas amounts to a tacit admission of British involvement.