The new head of the British Army threw his weight today behind calls to deploy more international forces to Afghanistan.
General Sir David Richards said sending reinforcements would enable the Nato coalition to start winning the "psychological battle", while reducing casualty levels.
His intervention comes as the coalition commander in Afghanistan, US general Stanley McChrystal, is requesting up to 40,000 additional troops.
His plan is reported to have received a cool reception in Washington where Vice President Joe Biden is said to favour reducing overall troop levels and instead concentrating on limited counter-terrorist operations using special forces.
But in an interview with The Sunday Telegraph, Gen Richards made it clear that he backed Gen McChrystal's broader counter-insurgency strategy, establishing security by building up the support and confidence of ordinary Afghans.
"If you put in more troops we can achieve the objectives laid upon us more quickly and with less casualties," he said.
"We can start winning the psychological battle, which is broadly wrapped around the Taliban saying, 'The West and the Afghan government is doing very little for you - we will offer you an austere future but at least it will be secure'.
"What we need to demonstrate is that we, Nato and the Afghan government, offer a much brighter future which is more secure, with jobs, and education and better health."
In a speech in London on Thursday, Gen McChrystal warned that coalition success in Afghanistan could not be taken for granted and that they would have a "problem" if resources were not properly aligned with the mission objectives.
Gen Richards reiterated his earlier warning that defeat for Nato - the most powerful alliance in the world - would have an "intoxicating effect" on militants around the globe, with "immense" geo-strategic implications.
"If al Qaida and the Taliban believe they have defeated us - what next? Would they stop at Afghanistan?" he said.
"Pakistan is clearly a tempting target, not least because of the fact that it is a nuclear-weaponed state, and that is a terrifying prospect. Even if only a few of those weapons fell into their hands, believe me, they would use them.
"The recent airlines plot has reminded us that there are people out there who would happily blow all of us up."Reuse content