Page last updated at 19:58 GMT, Saturday, 22 August 2009 20:58 UK

'Real risk' of UK Afghan defeat

British soldier in Afghanistan
Col Tootal has called for more troops to be sent to Afghanistan

A former Army commander says there is a "real risk" that Britain could lose the conflict in Afghanistan.

Col Stuart Tootal, writing in the Sunday Mirror, said a lack of political will could damage the military campaign against the Taleban.

Col Tootal who led 3 Para in Helmand in 2006, said the battle could be lost "in the corridors of power".

He also said Britain and other Nato allies had to send additional troops to Afghanistan if they were to succeed.

Col Tootal said that if the conflict was lost "it will not be in places like Helmand, but in the corridors of power in cities like London and Washington.

"Counter-insurgency conflicts are rarely lost by the fighting troops, but in the arena of domestic public opinion when there is a lack of the political will to make the right commitment to see them through."

Col Tootal said he believed the campaign in Afghanistan to be "winnable".

But he added: "Mounting casualties and an incoherent and under-resourced strategy paint a pessimistic picture.

"It will take statesmanship to put extra troops, helicopters, equipment and proper development programmes in place, but the benefits are considerable."

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