Brown promises new kit for soldiers in surprise Afghan visit
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has promised new, better-armoured vehicles for British troops serving in Afghanistan, during a surprise visit to the country Saturday, dpa reported.
The visit comes a day after Brown defended himself in front of a parliamentary committee investigating the run-up to the Iraq war, in which the then-chancellor of the exchequer was accused of denying British forces money for necessary equipment.
Brown said that the army would be given 200 new patrol vehicles to accelerate the phase-out of the notorious Snatch jeeps, which are based on a lightly armoured Land Rover and have been blamed for failing to prevent deaths from roadside bombs.
An additional 18 million pounds (27.3 million dollars) was also planned for equipment and training for Afghan forces to deal with the improvised explosive devices that have proven so deadly for NATO troops.
Senior military officers Saturday criticised Brown's defence in the Iraq inquiry, saying that the prime minister had been "disingenuous".
Brown aides told the BBC that the Afghanistan visit was not designed to deflect criticism over Brown's previous budgetary decisions.
Speaking in the south of Afghanistan after a tour of bases captured in the recent Moshtarak offensive, Brown praised the troops, saying "Their bravery, sacrifice and professionalism are an example of how the international community can and should intervene to make us all safer."