British Army Gen. David Richards, the top military commander in southern Afghanistan, told an audience at the esteemed policy center Chatham House that the underlying mission was to eliminate the threat from al-Qaida.
"It is vital to our domestic security that we do not allow Afghanistan to once again become an exporter of al-Qaida inspired terrorism or give such people a 'victory' that could inspire a much bigger threat still," he said.
Washington is in the midst of a policy review on the war effort in Afghanistan. U.S. Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the top commander in Afghanistan, issued a grave assessment on the status of the war, warning the mission risked failure if not adequately resourced.
Richards cautioned that counterinsurgency takes time, as it did in Iraq, but expressed confidence in U.S. President Barack Obama and his military team.
"I believe, under the catalyst of President Obama's leadership, and with Gen. McChrystal doing the detailed work in Kabul for him, that we will soon get the formula right in Afghanistan too," he said.