British military leaders, including two former army chiefs, admitted that their troops were “under-prepared and under-resourced” during their extended deployment in Afghanistan, according a BBC report. They also added that the military had been led into a “perfect storm” in 2004 by trying to sustain simultaneous campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq.
“We called it the perfect storm, because we knew that we were heading for two considerable size operations and we really only had the organization and manpower for one,” General Richard Dannatt, Chief of the General Staff from 2006 to 2009, told the BBC. “Perhaps we should have revisited the decision that we the UK would lead an enlarged mission in southern Afghanistan in 2006… We didn't do that.”
He also added that there was “a real danger” at the time that British troops could be “massacred.”
General Peter Wall, who served as Chief of the General Staff between 2010 and 2014, reportedly said: “We had put forward a plan saying that for the limited objectives that we had set ourselves, this was a reasonable force. And I freely admit now, that calculus was wrong,” referring to over 3,000 British troops stationed in Afghanistan in 2004.
Brigadier Ed Butler, the commander of the British forces in Afghanistan’s southern Helmand province in 2006, also said that the army lacked a “clear and achievable strategy to deliver success.”
However, the U.K. military's top brass reportedly claimed that in the long run, the mission in Afghanistan was a success.
“The lasting impact we will have had is not just to sanitize the threat to allow the development of governance and economy, but to be a witness to and stimulus for very significant social change, with an improving economy, with jobs, with much developed farming opportunities in contrast to narcotics,” General Wall told the BBC, adding that the consequences of not intervening could have left Afghanistan in conditions similar to modern day Syria and Iraq.