An incoming adviser to the U.S. commanding general in Afghanistan predicted Thursday that the U.S. has only two years to turn the Afghan war around before it should admit defeat and go home.
David Kilcullen presented his best-case scenario for the war at the U.S. Institute of Peace in Washington, D.C.
He said it will take two years of heavy fighting for U.S. forces to beat back the Taliban, followed by a phased handover to an improved Afghan army.
"We'll fight for two years and then a successful transition, or we'll fight for two years and we'll lose and go home," Kilcullen said.
"I think we need to persist," he added, but with "some pretty significant limits on how much we're prepared to spend, how many troops we're prepared to send, how long we can do this for."
It is uncertain if his new boss, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, shares Kilcullen's views.
McChrystal is preparing a report on the Afghan war for President Barack Obama, and recommendations are expected to include a call for more troops.