BRITISH forces in Afghanistan are fighting in a very hostile environment.

The bravery and professionalism of our soldiers is impossible to overstate. The danger they confront is evident in the almost daily toll of dead and (the less-widely reported) severely wounded.

So every politician needs to answer two questions: should British forces be in Afghanistan at all, and, if so, can they realistically achieve their mission with the existing strategy and resources?

My answer to the first question, should we be in Afghanistan, is 'yes', certainly for the foreseeable future.

The threat to Western liberal and democratic values from Islamic terrorism remains very real. The blunt truth is that there are extremists who want to kill thousands and thousands of British citizens.

We need to be vigilant at home, fighting this threat with everything from intelligence surveillance to intellectual argument, and active abroad. Afghanistan and Pakistan are the current frontline in the military battle.

What is the alternative? To just sit still and watch Al-Qaeda set up training camps in Afghanistan for jihadist young men from across the Middle East and Europe? To watch a failed state, financed by the heroin trade, with the most appalling human rights abuses, disintegrate into the hands of terrorists?

But on the second question, I believe there is less clarity. The precise nature of our mission is not being properly articulated. Our force numbers may not be sufficient to achieve our objectives. The lack of a military presence from many other NATO countries is shameful.

Concerns about equipment are immediate (especially the shortage of helicopters) but also open-up bigger questions about the priorities in our military spending. Should we be commissioning new aircraft carriers and a like-for-like replacement for Trident when our military is occupied with on-the-ground counter-insurgency fighting? I think the focus is wrong.

So there should be a real debate about Afghanistan. We should be questioning the strategy and the resources. But I disagree with the Labour and Welsh Nationalist MPs who say we should abandon the mission.

It is dangerous for Britain to be in Afghanistan. It is more dangerous for us not to be there.