Page last updated at 07:27 GMT, Sunday, 13 April 2008 08:27 UK

Brown supports 'Armed Forces Day'

British soldier
91 British troops have lost their lives in Afghanistan since 2001

Britain is to hold an Armed Forces Day to allow the public to show their support and respect for the military, Gordon Brown has suggested.

In a letter seen by the Sunday Telegraph, the prime minister signals that plans are being drawn up for "a special day of celebration".

Leading football clubs are expected to be called on to host parades by troops.

A study by Labour MP Quentin Davies into how the country can celebrate the military is to be published shortly.

Mr Brown has not yet spoken publicly about his support of an Armed Forces Day.

However, in his letter to Richard Scudamore, chief executive of the premier league, he said he was looking forward to discussing how football clubs could "play their part".

'Strengthening bonds'

He wrote that a parade of honour at Aston Villa's ground last season by returning troops was "an excellent example of how football clubs and their fans can show their appreciation for the service of our armed forces".

"As we take forward our plans for a special day of celebration for the armed forces, I look forward to working with you to see how the premier league can play its part," he added.

The idea for such a day has already won support from senior military commanders and some families of service personnel killed in war.

Writing in the Telegraph last month, Defence Secretary Des Browne said many people in Britain, especially the younger generations, were unaware what the forces actually do or how brave and dedicated they were.

He added that while it was unclear how the relationship between the public and the armed forces should be consolidated, there was a need for "some mechanism to help strengthen the bond".

Sacrifices

A Downing Street spokesman said: "The prime minister and Des Browne think it's a good idea to recognise the armed forces."

He said Mr Davies' review was expected to published in the next few weeks.

Last year, Gen Sir Richard Dannatt, the head of the Army, expressed concerns about a "growing gulf between the Army and the nation".

He suggested that work carried out by troops - and the sacrifices that form an integral part of their job - were not being acknowledged.

To date, 176 UK troops have been killed in operations in Iraq, and a further 91 have lost their lives in operations in Afghanistan since 2001.


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