December 13th, 2009
10:36 AM ET

British PM bunks with troops in surprise Afghan visit

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown spent the night among troops in Afghanistan, the first time he has stayed overnight in the war-torn nation. Brown flew in Saturday night and slept at military quarters at the Kandahar air base, a spokesman in his office said. Until now, Brown - like his predecessor, Tony Blair - would fly into the country for daylong visits and then fly out. On Sunday, Brown talked with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who flew to Kandahar. Brown also met with troops, was debriefed by army leaders, and inspected new military equipment.

The Taliban rose to power in Kandahar province before it was toppled by U.S.-led forces in late 2001. However, the militant group has resurged in recent years, and coalition troops have been fighting ever since to contain the threat.

Brown's unannounced visit follows the British government's pledge of 500 extra troops to complement President Obama's decision to send 3,000 additional American troops.

More than 9,000 British troops are stationed in southern Afghansitan, primarily in Helmand province. It has been a militant stronghold and a poppy-growing region that helps fund the insurgency, analysts say. It supplies 90 percent of the world's opium, which is used in the production of heroin.

This year alone, 100 British service members have been killed in Afghanistan.

The United Kingdom has the largest contingent in Afghanistan after the United States. The figure for British troops does not include special forces. Brown has declined to say exactly how many of those were there, but indicated it is more than 500.

Filed under: Troops
soundoff (4 Responses)
  1. Jay

    Katie, I am sure this has impacted your family, as it has mine. I returned from Afghanistan in April 2009 and am getting ready to go again. When you said no one came to our rescue after the USA was attacked is not true. With respect to Afghanistan, the US went to NATO and invoked Article 5 of the treaty, an attack on one is an attack on all. This is the first time in the history of the alliance this has happened. In the south, west and north in Afghanistan, the majority of the forces are from other nations. The balance in the south is change to US under the new strategy. While the numbers may strike people in the US as small, you may want to consider that it is often a huge portion of their total armed forces. As an example in Iraq 2003, the British had nearly 50% of their Army deployed to help the US, of which they replaced with the other half. You may want to google the nato placemat and see what other countries contribute. Many of the NATO nations do not have the same depth of an economy to resource security from that the others have. I know these nameless faceless numbers do nothing for you, imagine for a second there is a Dutch, German, Polish, Italian, Canadian, French or British "Katie" feeling the same way you do.

    December 19, 2009 at 9:08 am | Report abuse |
  2. Katie

    My brother is going over there, he's one of the first in Obama's wave of troops. It's making me angry. My ex left me because he didn't want to put me through ANOTHER deployment, my brother didn't come home for Thanksgiving nor will he come home for Christmas due to being on call and packing for deployment. Thanks Prez. no one came to our rescue when USA was attacked. Why are we risking our men and women for other's messes? I want my men to be safe for the holidays! I want my brother home! and I am SURE I am not the only little sister missing her brother, I am not the only ex fiance because the amn didn't want to put her through another deployment. This isn't fair to make our men fight others' wars.

    December 14, 2009 at 9:01 am | Report abuse |
  3. ginsengjohn

    Many years ago England set up this whole drug thing in the region. It would only be right for England to clean up its own drug mess!!

    December 13, 2009 at 11:11 am | Report abuse |
  4. HateLov746

    I think that the troops need to be brought home and they need their freedom handed to them on a sliver plater in order for them to feel tike real U.S.A's.


    December 13, 2009 at 10:55 am | Report abuse |