London, Feb. 27 (ANI): British Army chief General Sir David Richards has said that the country's troops could be withdrawn from Afghanistan within five years, as they have reached a "turning point" in the battle against the Taliban.
He also indicated that the troop numbers could begin to decline as early as next year.
"We expect the military conflict to trail off in 2011. The combat role will start to decline in 2011, but we will remain militarily engaged in training and support roles for another five years, and we will remain in a support role for many years to come," The Telegraph quoted Sir David, as saying.
His assessment comes just seven months after warning that Britain's mission in Afghanistan could last for up to 40 years.
In 2009, Sir David had said the army's role would evolve but Britain would be providing governance, development or security for three or four decades.
While he welcomed the extra resources that had been made available by the government, Sir David admitted that British forces had been deprived of key equipment for several years.
"We have been holding our own in very hard circumstances for years. Now for the first time we have the resources we have been seeking," he said.
Sir David, however, warned of the dangers of failure in Afghanistan.
"I do not think we can afford to fail in Afghanistan because of the intoxicating effect failure will have on those militants who oppose democracy and our freedoms," he said.
"The Taliban is now beginning to realise that they can lose this war, which was not the view they had a year ago. We have to reinforce the view that they can, and will, be beaten," he added. (ANI)