Page last updated at 18:49 GMT, Friday, 14 May 2010 19:49 UK

David Cameron visits Black Watch at Fort George

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Prime Minister David Cameron spoke of his admiration for troops in Afghanistan

The prime minister has pledged to do "much more" to take care of military families in a speech to Black Watch soldiers in the Scottish Highlands.

David Cameron said this would include improving leave arrangements and changes to housing allocations.

He revealed he is to meet the Chief of the Defence Staff and the Chief of the General Staff at lunch on Saturday, where he will raise these issues.

Mr Cameron was addressing troops at Fort George near Inverness.

The fort serves as a base for members of the the Black Watch, the 3rd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland (3 Scots), who have recently returned from a deployment to Afghanistan.

It is in Scottish secretary and Liberal Democrat MP Danny Alexander's Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey constituency.

I really want us, as a new government, to make sure that we fulfil every part of that military covenant
David Cameron
UK prime minister

During an informal speech in the soldiers' mess, Mr Cameron said the "military covenant" - the obligation between the nation and the armed forces - needed to be improved.

The government would "recognise our side of the bargain" in the treatment of servicemen and their families, he said.

He told the troops: "You do extraordinary things for us to keep us safe and make us live in a more secure world.

"We need to do much, much more for you to look after your families, to help your children, to make sure you get the health care, the schooling and the accommodation they require.

Mr Cameron meeting Black Watch soldiers
Mr Cameron chatted informally with soldiers during the visit

"I really want us, as a new government, to make sure that we fulfil every part of that military covenant."

New measures will see leave start from the moment soldiers arrive home in the UK - a Tory election pledge - not when they "step off a plane in Bastion in the middle of the desert," he added.

Mr Cameron and Mr Alexander were met by the regiment's new Commanding Officer, Lt Col Ed Fenton, and shown around the base, where they chatted with individual soldiers and their families.

'Great privilege'

They were taken into a battlefield headquarters which had been set up in the grounds of the fort and shown some equipment used in the field, including mortar tubes and general purpose machine guns.

Mr Cameron's trip north followed a meeting with Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond in Edinburgh.

Twenty soldiers of the Black Watch were recognised for their bravery during last year's tour of duty in Afghanistan, with four being awarded the Military Cross.

Acting Sgt Sean Binnie, 22, from Belfast, was mentioned in dispatches posthumously.

He was shot dead as he threw a grenade while fighting insurgents last May.

Four other members of the Black Watch died during the tour.

Mr Cameron said the country should recognise the "sacrifice and loss of those we will never forget".

He added: "It's a great privilege for me as prime minister, only for two days now - I think it is - to make this one of my first visits.

"It was something I wanted to do, to come and see some members of our armed services and thank you for what you do.

"What you did made not just Scotland proud, but also the whole of the United Kingdom proud."



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