"A senior officer put the problem into perspective when he said that Northern Ireland is one-fifth the size of Helmand, yet at the height of the Troubles in the 1970s and 1980s the British Army was able to commit 20,000 troops to wage a war against an enemy with a far smaller force.
'Do we really want to find ourselves involved in a draining commitment which could last up to 30 years?' he asked. 'Because if the answer is yes' we're going to need more assets or fewer commitments elsewhere we lack sufficient ground troops and our air support in Helmand is pitiful.'
His fears were echoed by the Chief of the Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup. He warned that the end of the British presence in Basra would not necessarily provide a magic wand for him and his team of planners."
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