The new head of the British army says success in Afghanistan is vital
and the outcome of the conflict there will have a profound effect on
geo politics. The general who is about to take command of Britain's 9,000 troops in Afghanistan says it's imperative that
international forces show the Afghan population signs of positive
David Richards says Afghanistan is the British military's main focus.
He says the conflict should not be seen a blueprint for the future, but
that it offers opportunities for the British forces to grow and adapt
to 21st century challenges. Success in Afghanistan he says is a grand
strategic issue for Britain.
"It is vital to our domestic
security that we do not allow Afghanistan to once again become an
exporter of al Qaida inspired terrorism or give such people a victory
that could inspire a much bigger threat still," said the general.
He says the Taliban only have the support of about five percent of the Afghan people.
80 percent of the Afghan population still doggedly want their
government and the international community to succeed, although their
patience with our failure to meet the expectations of progress we
ironically have done much to create is flagging," said General Richards.
next commander of British forces in Afghanistan, Major General Nick
Carter, told British radio that he understands that he will have to act
quickly to keep the Afghan people on his side.
"We don't have
the luxury of time, but 18 months ago there were probably 1,500
American soldiers in the south, there are now 25,000 and there's an
awful lot more resources coming into the south as well and with this
amount of effort I think that we do have an opportunity during the
course of the next year to make a difference, but I absolutely
acknowledge that time is not on our side," he said.
General Carter is optimistic that NATO forces will prevail in
Afghanistan. "I think that it will happen slowly, but my goodness me
there will be a tipping point when the population will suddenly realize
that it's better to be with its government institutions rather than
with the insurgent," he said.
General Richards is optimistic
too. He says his forces know the ingredients for success in
Afghanistan, but as in Iraq, it may take a little time to find the
correct formula for success. That, he says, would be a stabilized
country able to manage its own security.