Taking stock of the violence in Afghanistan, UK defence secretary Des Browne has admitted that the deployment of 3,300 extra troops in the war-ravaged country's south has 'energised' the Taliban.
Browne's assessment of the situation in the restive southern province of Helmand came as he prepared to announce next week the dispatch of reinforcements to Afghanistan, including extra air cover and engineers, The Guardian reported.
"It is certainly the case that the very act of deployment into the south has energised opposition, and the scale of that opposition and the nature of that opposition became apparent when we were deploying," Browne said.
The assessment also comes amidst warnings from commanders in the area such as Lieutenant Colonel Stuart Tootal that the Taliban resistance was proving unexpectedly tough.
Reacting to criticism that Britian's objective in Afghanistan is unclear, he said, "Some opposition politicians cannot resist the temptation to exploit an alleged confusion for short-term gains, but they put at risk our troops on the ground".
"We have always explained this was going to be very, very difficult and dangerous, and we have also explained that the purpose was to create the security space for reconstruction of the country.
People who criticise us have to ask themselves whether they want us to do it at all," he said, adding the mission had international acclaim.