London: Britain’s new Chief of the Defence Staff, General Sir David Richards, has said that British troops will stay in Afghanistan for “as long as it takes”.
General Richards said Britain must not “cut and run”, and ruled out any reduction in our current force of 10,000 before 2012.
The warning from Britain’s top most military officer will embarrass Premier David Cameron, who said in July that “our boys and girls could start coming home next year”.
General Richards ruled out a reduction in Britain’s current force of 10,000 before 2012, and said Britain would be shouldering the burden over the coming year.
He also suggested that up to 1,000 troops could need to stay in Afghanistan in training roles beyond 2015.
“We are in a demanding part of Afghanistan and therefore, inevitably, we`re going to be shouldering the burden at least through next year. After 2015, we’ll be in a supporting role. But we’ve expended so much time, effort and, yes, lives on this.”
“The worst of all things would be to get out before we finish the job properly, for want of 1,000 trainers to keep them going for another couple of years,” The Sun quoted General Richards, as saying.
He said: “I’m absolutely clear. We really mean it when we say we will be there for as long as it takes. It’s so important that we establish in the minds of the Afghan people and of those in the region that NATO is not going to cut and run in Afghanistan.”
“If they thought that for one minute, why would the Afghans continue to fight on their own behalf? Why wouldn’t they succumb to Taliban pressure?”
General Richards, former head of the Army, took over the most senior military job last week.