Afghan violence 'will get worse'
Violence in Afghanistan will get worse before it gets better, Britain's most senior military commander in the country has predicted.
Lieutenant General Sir Nick Parker, the deputy commander of the International Security Assistance Force, said allied forces were making progress against Taliban insurgents but it was "hard, slow and variable".
Comparing the current stage of ISAF's mission to the period in a battle when violence is at its height, he said: "We are going up the hill into the enemy at the moment."
Lt Gen Parker told BBC Radio 4's PM: "This is a complex counter-insurgency. There are a large number of different actors and it is a resilient enemy.
"Over the course of this summer, the momentum of the campaign has continued much as we predicted it would earlier in the year. We are seeing progress but it is hard, it is slow and it is variable.
"But I am convinced that we are showing persistent security in areas where the insurgency has dominated in the past and the people who live in those areas are beginning to realise not only that we are serious, but also - importantly - that the Afghan government is beginning to bring more governance and development to those areas."
The allied forces had "all our inputs right, and all our forces and systems in the right place", said Lt Gen Parker.
This has been a bloody year for British troops in Afghanistan, with 87 dying so far in 2010, bringing the total UK deaths since the start of operations in 2001 to 332.
Lt Gen Parker said: "I am afraid this absolutely tallies with what we have been telling people for the last four to five months: that the 'bell curve' of violence will increase before it decreases, as we demonstrate this persistent security and the fact that we can dominate this insurgency."
Every casualty was a "tragedy", said Lt Gen Parker. But he added: "At the level I am operating at, you have to try to look above that, you have to look at the effect we are trying to create more widely across the campaign. If your judgments were affected by each individual tragedy, you would make some very dubious decisions. We mustn't allow our judgments to be made simply on the basis of casualties."