'West must see Afghan job through', military chief says

A British soldier
Image caption There have been 390 British military deaths in operations in Afghanistan since 2001

Western nations must see the job in Afghanistan through after making an "investment in blood", the commander of British forces in the country has said.

Lieutenant General James Bucknall CBE told the Guardian newspaper "we owe it to those who have gone" to finish the job and he is "confident" of doing so.

Forces were succeeding in pushing the Taliban back, with 130 to 140 insurgent leaders killed every month, he said.

His comments came a day before the Bonn Conference on Afghanistan's future.

Speaking to the Guardian, Lt Gen Bucknall, commander of the UK National Contingent and deputy commander of Isaf, said: "Having made this investment in blood, I am more determined. If I didn't think we could do this I would take a very different view but I am confident we can do it."

He said the western coalition must stick together in the run-up to the planned draw-down of combat troops by the end of 2014.

"We went in together, and we go out together. Managing a coalition in a draw-down requires an awful lot more work than managing a coalition during a surge," he said.

He went on to say the Taliban had lost its heartlands in Kandahar and central Helmand and had not managed to take them back; that it has not spread influence to other areas, and is not affecting the seat of government in Kabul.

The Taliban has been reduced to a terrorist group, adopting terrorist tactics, he told the paper.

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