Well, Mick Smith quotes the Parachute Regiment's journal as saying that Brigadier Butler was forced into going along with Operation MOUNTAIN THRUST, the offensive the US command in Afghanistan initiated the month before General Richards arrived in Afghanistan. Read the whole thing. This is much as I thought at the time - essentially, neither the Americans or the Afghan government had had an effective presence there since 2001, and the arrival of British troops was an irresistible temptation. The one month's interregnum between their arrival and the change of command meant that the Americans could essentially borrow the train set and then hand over the mess to the Brits.
Given this bad start, shorthandedness, and the non-start of the reconstruction effort, I reckon Richards can claim to have done reasonably well in having won all the fights, extricated the army from an ill-advised posture, and come to a sensible settlement at Musa Qala that actually did hold and permitted the expansion of our area of control. More recently, the first big success, the restoration of the Kajaki dam, is within reach. Now, though, it looks like the increase in force when 12th Mechanised Brigade relieves 3 Commando Brigade has actually managed to buy us rather less influence with the Americans. Dan McNeill is the new commander, the ARRC staff is going home with Richards, and the Taliban have responded by pushing a force back into Musa Qala, setting a sprat to catch a McNeill.
Antagonising Iran, the only power that is actually getting anything done in Afghanistan, isn't going to help either. (I was amused to see this post drawing traffic from parliament.uk hosts.)