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British PM Stresses Importance Of Afghan Mission


PM stresses importance of Afghan mission

The Prime Minister has called operations against the Taliban "one of the most important of missions" on a visit to Afghanistan.

Speaking to troops in Helmand province in the south of the country, the PM said that defeating the Taliban was an important part of tackling terrorism and would also "give strength" to Afghanistan's new democracy. Mr Brown praised British troops for their "huge bravery in very difficult circumstances".

The PM said:

"I want to thank every one of you for what you have done in what is the front line against the Taliban. Because this is one of the most challenging of environments, it is one of the most difficult of tasks, it is the most testing of times and it is one of the most important of missions because to win here and to defeat to defeat the Taliban and to make sure that we can give strength to the new democracy of Afghanistan is important in defeating terrorism all round the world.

"We are so proud of what you are doing and I am privileged to say today that the whole of Britain is proud of what you are doing."

The Prime Minister's address, given to troops in Camp Bastion in Helmand, came as armed forces joined with Afghan soldiers in a major offensive in the town of Musa Qala. The success of such operations would help bring "a more peaceful future for this country", he said.

***

FULL STATEMENT

PM's address to troops in Afghanistan, 10 December 2007

Can I say first of all that it is a privilege for Des Browne, the Defence Secretary, and me to be here because I want to thank you, I want to thank you for your professionalism, I want to thank you for your courage, I want to thank you for your patriotic service. I want to thank every one of you for what you have done in what is the front line against the Taliban. Because this is one of the most challenging of environments, it is one of the most difficult ... it is the most testing of ... and it is one of the most important of missions because to win here and to defeat to defeat the Taliban and to make sure that we can give strength to the new democracy of Afghanistan is important in defeating terrorism all round the world.

I want to thank all those who have been injured for their service, and I want to remember those who have given their lives in the service of our country, and particularly Jack and Lee, the two men who have died recently, for what they have done and what they have achieved.

When I talk about the professionalism of the British armed forces and what you have done, everywhere I go round the world it is recognised that you are the most professional, that you are the most dedicated, that you are the most professional service, recognised in every continent. And when I speak of courage I speak of ... here who have shown huge bravery in very difficult circumstances.

I know this weekend in Musa Qala, some of you here, many of you who are not here who are up there, have been doing a very important job in clearing the Taliban from that area. And I know that the work you are doing today and in the next few days is important for the whole mission in Afghanistan and I believe that if we can succeed there, as we will, if we can work with the Afghan forces, then we can move forward events in Afghanistan in favour of a more peaceful future for this country.

But I also want to thank you for your patriotic service. I just want to say that people are incredibly proud of what you are doing. I feel incredibly privileged to be able to thank you personally for what you are doing, but I know I speak for the whole of the British people in saying that what you are doing here is not only important but it is recognised in every community in the country as tremendous service, dedicated ... professional activity.

I was telling the story yesterday of Field Marshal Montgomery during the Second World War, and when Field Marshal Montgomery was asked who were the three greatest Generals in history, he said the other two were Napoleon and Alexander the Great. When Field Marshal Montgomery asked his troops: "What is the most important thing you have?", and some of them said my guns, others said our kit, others said it's my equipment, and he said: "No, the most important thing you have is you, your skills, your talents, your professionalism, your dedication, your service." And the most important thing our country has is you.

And I want to thank all of you for what you are doing; thank you for what you have achieved in clearing the Taliban from many areas of this country; thank you for what you have achieved in making it possible for 6 million children in Afghanistan now to go to school; thank you for what you have achieved because a few years ago only 10 percent of Afghanistan's people had access to healthcare, because of what you have done it is now 90 percent; and thank you for what you are achieving, not only in holding back the Taliban but giving people confidence that there can be a better future in this country.

So let me thank you, let me praise what you are doing, let me say, for those of you who are not going to get home at Christmas, thank you for all you are doing here over Christmas and thank your families too for the sacrifice that they are showing in making it possible for you to be here too. Thank you for what you are doing. The country is grateful. We are so proud of what you are doing and I am privileged to say today that the whole of Britain is proud of what you are doing.

Thank you very much.

ENDS

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