Cameron promises £67m for IEDs in Afghanistan's 'vital year'
David Cameron pledges £67 million in extra funds to combat Taliban roadside bombs in first trip to Afghanistan as PM
Thursday, 10, Jun 2010 06:00
By Matthew Champion.
David Cameron has pledged £67 million in extra funds to combat Taliban roadside bombs during his first trip to Afghanistan since becoming prime minister.
In talks with Afghan president Hamid Karzai in Kabul Mr Cameron said bringing stability and security to Afghanistan was his "number one priority" in what he described as a "vital year" for the country.
Britain has 10,000 troops in Afghanistan, where 294 have died in the last nine years, the vast majority since 2006 when the UK army began its deployment in Helmand province.
Most UK casualties are inflicted by roadside bombs, or improvised explosive devices (IEDs) planted by Taliban militants.
Last month the army's top bomb disposal expert Colonel Bob Seddon resigned amid fears the training of his teams could be compromised by a need to combat IEDs.
In Kabul Mr Cameron pledged an extra £67 million to help fund counter-IED measures, which is in addition to £150 million over three years already promised by his predecessor Gordon Brown.
"My biggest duty as prime minister of the United Kingdom is to our armed forces, to make sure that they have all the equipment and all the protection they need to do the absolutely vital job that they are doing here in Afghanistan," Mr Cameron said in a joint news conference with President Karzai.
"I'm pleased to announce today that we will be spending an extra £67 million on countering the IED threat and actually doubling the number of British teams that are there to counter the threat from these explosive devices."
Mr Cameron added: "I've described this year - and the president, I know, agrees - in terms of the Nato mission in Afghanistan as the vital year.
"This is the year when we have to make progress - progress for the sake of the Afghan people, but progress also on behalf of people back at home who want this to work."