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Gains of Afghan war may take years to realise: army

Britain will eventually be proud of its role in the Afghanistan war Afghanistan War, 1978–92, conflict between anti-Communist Muslim Afghan guerrillas (mujahidin) and Afghan government and Soviet forces. The conflict had its origins in the 1978 coup that overthrew Afghan president Sardar Muhammad Daud Khan, who had come to  but it could be another decade before its gains are realised, the head of the armed forces said in an interview published in Thursday's Times.

General Sir David Richards David Richards may refer to:
  • David Richards (racing), chairman of Prodrive and the former Team Principal of the BAR Formula One auto racing team
  • David Richards (record producer), producer of records by Queen and David Bowie
, the chief of the defence staff, admitted tactical mistakes had been made but that he had "every expectation" history would judge the war positively.

"At the end of the day, we won't know (if it has succeeded) until 2018, '19, '20," he told the British newspaper.

"I have every expectation that we will all agree in 10 years' time that this was a necessary war and we've come out of it with our heads held high," he added.

Richards admitted last month that public support for the Afghanistan campaign was waning and that proponents of the war were losing "the battle of perceptions" among the public.

Public enthusiasm has been sapped by a steadily rising death toll of soldiers, reports of troop and equipment shortages and U-turns in military tactics.

Richards said he was "the first to concede con·cede  
v. con·ced·ed, con·ced·ing, con·cedes
1. To acknowledge, often reluctantly, as being true, just, or proper; admit. See Synonyms at acknowledge.

" that mistakes had been made but pointed out that no terrorist attack had been launched out of Afghanistan since the campaign began 10 years ago.

The general conceded that policymakers and military leaders were guilty of neglecting Afghanistan during the parallel campaign launched in Iraq in 2003, but added that strategy had been correct since US President Barack Obama's 2009 troop surge.

Britain will withdraw 500 troops from Afghanistan by the end of next year, leaving 9,000 in the country.

Some 389 British troops have been killed since US-led operations in Afghanistan began in October 2001. Of these, at least 344 were killed in combat.

Prime Minister David Cameron Editing of this page by unregistered or newly registered users is currently disabled due to vandalism.  has stressed that London's commitment to Afghanistan would endure after the last NATO NATO: see North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
 in full North Atlantic Treaty Organization

International military alliance created to defend western Europe against a possible Soviet invasion.
 combat troops leave the country at the end of 2014.
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Author:Staff Reporter
Publication:AFP European Edition
Date:Nov 24, 2011
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