First, I have to say you have assumed I served in Afghanistan. I have the firm principle of neither confirming nor denying anything about my service except it was 24 yrs and left me pissed off. I will say there are only some artillerymen serving with the British, the main Australian force and the Dutch have their own province.
There were a lot of doomsayers about Iraq, and that war is basically won.
Afghanistan, as you alluded to, has a history of sitting on tops of mountains and shooting at foriegners. We are going through the dark days, and their is probably a light at the end of the tunnel....is it the end of the tunnel or is it a train ? Since Korea it has been widely known by the enemies of the west that our civilian pop will not tolerate a large death toll. In the case of Afghan. it is no more than the soldiers who would be lost if they were on home station. The cost of the war is another matter, as all those soldiers killed have families entitled to compensation whereas they wouldnt have if the same losses occured back home.
Given the Afghan peoples resilience to war, we had better find a political solution. There is a type of military solution that involves training up Afghans and the co-operation of Pakistan, but the final hurdle is then the poverty of the place. People buy petrol and drugs, and both the money from these fuels the Taliban who pay far more than the local forces.
No-one likes the Taliban there, but they are prepared to be better paid for their work so there will never be a shortage of voluteers. Drying up the source of their funds would help a great deal, but I dont know enough about this to suggest how it could be done other than to replace drugs with real crops and close the banking links from Saudis to Pakistanis.