[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Thursday, 2 August 2007, 14:27 GMT 15:27 UK
Cameron urges better armed forces
Conservative leader David Cameron
Tory leader David Cameron is on a two-day visit to Afghanistan
David Cameron has said retention among the armed forces would become "truly awful" unless improvements are made.

The Conservative leader pledged to cut the number of Ministry of Defence bureaucrats to pay for more troops.

Mr Cameron was speaking during a two-day visit to Afghanistan where he met UK troops stationed at Camp Bastion in the southern province of Helmand.

The Tories have already promised they would launch an armed forces families manifesto before the next election.

It does seem we have got a bit out of whack between the number of people we have got polishing desks at home and the people available for operations overseas
David Cameron
Conservative leader

"We do need to look at the whole compact between the British public and the armed services," Mr Cameron told members of the First Battalion The Worcestershire and Sherwood Foresters in Lashkar Gah, the provincial capital of Helmand.

He also said if the Tories were in government, they would appoint a minister for armed forces families.

Mr Cameron told them that issues which needed to be addressed included accommodation, schooling for the children of service families and ensuring that military families did not lose their places on NHS waiting lists when they were transferred between bases.

He also pledged to review Britain's defence commitments around the world and cut Ministry of Defence bureaucrats to pay for more uniformed personnel.

"It does seem we have got a bit out of whack between the number of people we have got polishing desks at home and the people available for operations overseas."

Maj Paul Gilby, the commander of C Company, stressed the need to do more to ensure soldiers did not leave the army early.

"We are slogging our guts out in a country that can be unsavoury at best. There are blokes leaving the forces because they are not feeling valued," he said.

Flooding

RAF Sergeant Daniel Temple, who comes from Mr Cameron's Witney constituency in Oxfordshire, mentioned the recent severe flooding in England.

"There was three foot of water up to my parents' house. They couldn't get out at all," Sgt Temple told Mr Cameron who has been criticised for visiting Rwanda during the floods.

On Wednesday Mr Cameron said "we cannot afford to fail" in Afghanistan, warning of serious consequences for Britain and the world if that were to happen.

And he called for "gritty, hard-headed decisions" on how the international community operates in Afghanistan.

The two-day trip comes a year after his previous visit to Afghanistan.




RELATED INTERNET LINKS
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites



FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

PRODUCTS & SERVICES

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific