Gordon Brown Visits Troops in Southern Afghanistan

UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown is visiting his nation's troops in Afghanistan and promising them 200 new patrol vehicles that can resist roadside bombs more effectively.

Brown made an unannounced trip Saturday to Camp Bastion in Helmand province to thank the troops involved in a 3-week-old offensive to wrest control of the town of Marjah from the Taliban. UK Prime Minister focused on the battle against homemade bombs and the need to bolster training of the Afghan police force, The Press Association news agency reported.

Brown says Britain will announce a multimillion-dollar investment in new British-built vehicles to replace others blamed for roadside bomb deaths.

Brown told the troops he will do everything he can to provide the equipment and resources they need to fight the war, The Associated Press reported.

Britain will send 150 additional police trainers to the war zone by April, an official travelling with Brown said. The government is also set to spend 100 million pounds ($151 million) to replace the Snatch Land Rovers used by U.K. forces, the official said.

Brown’s trip to Afghanistan follows his evidence to an official inquiry into the Iraq war being chaired by John Chilcot, a retired civil servant. After telling Chilcot yesterday that he never limited resources for British forces in Iraq, he rebuffed suggestions today that his troop visit is timed to deflect attention from that testimony in final weeks before the U.K. general election.

"I’ve been planning this visit for a long time," Brown told reporters on arriving at the Camp Bastion, the British base in southern Afghanistan. "For the last four years I’ve come here at around this time, to see troops, to see what progress has been made. It’s really important to come at this stage," BusinessWeek informs.

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