The head of the Air Force has admitted that Afghanistan could descend into civil war when Nato forces leave in 2014 with the RAF having to remain behind to help with security.
In a wide ranging interview Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Dalton denied that Prince William’s imminent deployment to the Falkland Islands was controversial despite Argentine protests.
Asked if Afghanistan could return to the internal conflict that has ravaged the country for the last three decades when Western forces leave he told the BBC’s World at One: “That is always a possibility.”
It was unlikely that Nato would know that it has been successful in Afghanistan “until five to 10 years” after it has left, the Chief of the Air Staff suggested.
“That will be the timescale which we will look back and say did we do enough to provide them the space and opportunity to take on governance.”
The RAF would be expected to remain in some strength after 2014 in terms to supporting and training Afghan security forces and secure the country’s borders. “I am not sure how long the RAF would be expected to remain but it would certainly be a possibility and opportunity, ” ACM Dalton said. He added over the next three of four years. There would be an “organised, orchestrated and properly integrated withdraw programme leaving the Afghans in charge.”