London, Aug 8 (ANI): The next chief of the British Army, General Sir David Richards, has warned that Britain's mission in Afghanistan could last for up to 40 years.
"The Army's role will evolve, but the whole process might take as long as 30 to 40 years," General Richards told The Times.
He emphasised that British troop involvement, currently 9,000-strong, should only be needed for the medium term, but insisted that there was "absolutely no chance" of Nato pulling out.
"I believe that the UK will be committed to Afghanistan in some manner - development, governance, security sector reform - for the next 30 to 40 years," he said.
The military campaign in Afghanistan has already cost British taxpayers more than five billion pounds.
"We need now to focus on the expansion of the Afghan National Army and Afghan National Police. Just as in Iraq, it is our route out militarily, but the Afghan people and our opponents need to know that this does not mean our abandoning the region," General Richards said.
"We made this mistake once. Our opponents are banking on us doing it again, and we must prove them wrong," he added.
Commenting on the Taliban, General Richards said, "We can and are outfighting them."
Liam Fox, the Shadow Defence Secretary, said that 30 to 40 years in Afghanistan was "unaffordable".
"Any idea of maintaining military involvement for that length of time is not a runner. It would require a total rethink of our foreign and security policy," he said. (ANI)