At least seven years - that's how long British and other foreign troops will need to stay in Afghanistan according to Afghan MP Shukria Barakzai, who we spoke to last night.
In contrast over the past few days, the BBC along with other news organisations has also been quoting John Reid, when he was Defence Secretary, saying he would be happy if the troops left the country in three years without firing a shot.
Since the time the deployment was announced back in January, The World Tonight, like other BBC News programmes, has been tracking the British military involvement in southern Afghanistan. One of the first interviews we did on this was with the inestimable military analyst Michael Clarke of Kings College, London, who predicted then that the British army would inevitably get involved in combat with a resurgent Taleban, drug lords and other assorted armed groups, if they went into the region.
As a result of analysis from defence experts like Professor Clarke, there have been constant questions to the Ministry of Defence about various aspects of this intervention. Were enough troops being sent? Did they have the right equipment? Should they have been better prepared for the resistance they've encountered? All valid questions and not necessarily as straightforward as they appear, because when it comes to military decisions there is inevitably a role for politicians to make judgements on the basis of professional military advice and what they think is politically do-able.
But another question has arisen which the government and supportive politicians bristle at, but is being asked by our listeners. Should the government have been more open about the risks being faced by British troops, and should the government have engaged in more of a public debate about the wisdom of this deployment before the final decision was made, partly to gauge public support, but also to prepare public opinion and the media for potentially bad news?
Journalists are often accused of oversimplifying issues like this, but if the troops do end up staying for 7 years, and casualties sadly rise, we will continue to report what's going on - the BBC is one of the few media organisations which permanently bases correspondents in Afghanistan - and these questions will continue to be asked.
Alistair Burnett is editor of the World Tonight