Forget about victory over insurgents in Afghanistan, say top brass

Britain cannot expect to win a traditional war in Afghanistan, top brass warned yesterday.

It is vital to redefine the notion of clear victory in a battle with insurgents such as the Taliban, military commanders said.

Instead, the armed forces have to work ever more closely with non-military agencies to bring peace and stability.

End in sight? The plans suggest a withdrawal of British forces could begin in 2011

End in sight? The plans suggest a withdrawal of British forces could begin in 2011

The 423-page report produced by defence chiefs admitted the UK military had 'not yet got right' its approach to troublespots.

Compiled in consultation with defence experts, it was put together by Major General Paul Newton, assistant chief of the defence staff specialising in development, concepts and doctrine.

It sought to set out the role of the British military in future conflicts but its conclusions drew into sharp relief the struggle in Helmand Province.

The Prime Minister delivered a speech yesterday indicating an end is in sight to the Afghanistan mission, amid evidence of rupturing public support.

The report suggested that small bands of Taliban-style fighters using weapons such as roadside bombs and who could merge easily into the local population were 'unlikely to present themselves in sterile battlespace for precision attack'.

It added: 'The military contest is not likely to be one of absolutes; losing and especially winning are less relevant notions.

'More usefully, we should characterise success as the realisation by enough of our adversaries of the futility of further violence, and popular rejection of their political vision.'

In the new style of warfare, military leaders did not need to seek the 'decisive defeat' of the enemy in battle.

  •  A soldier from 33 Engineer Regiment was killed in an explosion near Gereshk in Helmand on Sunday. His death takes the British death toll there this year to 97.

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