London, Dec 20: British Defence Secretary John Hutton has compared the Taliban and al-Qaeda to the Nazis, saying that the Western forces in Afghanistan are defending the country's values as they did in the Second World War.
Hutton told in an interview to The Times that British forces faced a long fight to defeat insurgents in Afghanistan.
He said that like the war to defeat Hitler, the military campaign in Afghanistan is "a vital national security mission" and not just a matter of foreign affairs.
"We know that we must tackle the [terrorist] threat at source, it is not just going to go away. It is a struggle against fanatics that may not challenge our borders but challenges our way of life in the same way the Nazis did," Huton said.
"We will stay there as long as is necessary to secure all of our objectives - it's going to be years," he warned.
"The key thing now is not that the Taliban or al-Qaeda can defeat us in Afghanistan, their tactic is to outlast us. That's what we've got to deal with. That's the nature of this counter-insurgency operation . . . It doesn't lend itself to instantaneous results. This is a very complex, challenging environment for us to be operating in."
His comments will be seen as a sign that the British Government may be preparing to soften up public opinion for a possible increase in troops next year.
Ministers are concerned that the public will not support a lengthy and dangerous war of attrition in Afghanistan, which has already led to the deaths of 134 British soldiers, The Times said.