Page last updated at 02:46 GMT, Monday, 3 August 2009 03:46 UK

Case for troop rise, says Cameron

UK forces in Afghanistan
Mr Cameron said the UK needed to build up Afghan forces rapidly

There is a "very strong case" for sending more UK soldiers to Afghanistan, Conservative leader David Cameron has told the BBC.

Mr Cameron stopped short of committing himself to increasing the UK's 9,000-strong presence if he won office.

But he said if military chiefs made a request for extra manpower, there would be good reasons to make that happen.

He told Radio 4's Westminster Hour that an increase in troop numbers would "Afghan-ise" the country quicker.

Think like businessmen

Mr Cameron said he had not seen the "shopping list" drawn up by the head of the Army, General Sir Richard Dannatt.

But he added: " If what the military are asking for is more troops in Afghanistan to speed up the training of the Afghan national army, it does seem to me there's a very strong case for saying yes to that.

"Because the faster we can build up the Afghan national army and the police, the faster we'll be able to 'Afghan-ise' the problem and the situation and the more rapidly we'll actually be able to end that mission and bring our troops back home."

Mr Cameron also told the programme that he expected his shadow cabinet to think like businessmen in order to deliver spending cuts while improving frontline services.

He said he would not rule out tax increases to cut national debt, warning that there would "inevitably" be painful decisions to make.

But he said if the Tories gained power, his government's "abiding mission" would not just be to balance the books, but to "change the country for the better".

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