Cameron vows to double bonuses for Afghan veterans

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Indy Politics

David Cameron pledged to double bonuses paid to troops returning from Afghanistan during a visit to the wartorn country.

The Tory leader told reporters the payment for a six-month tour of duty would increase to £4,800 if the Conservatives won the next general election.

He also revealed plans to appoint a national security adviser, make service personnel working at the Ministry of Defence wear uniforms instead of civilian clothing and award campaign medals to RAF medics who are currently not eligible for them.

Speaking to The Sun about soldiers' bonuses, Mr Cameron said: "The pay they get for what they do is relatively low. We want to do more to make sure our forces have a better deal.

"I'll make that a priority of my first Budget. It will happen in our first 50 days."

Earlier yesterday Mr Cameron delivered a stark warning that Nato had one "last chance" to succeed in Afghanistan.

He said the extra troops pledged by the US, Britain and other allies offered an opportunity, but cautioned that the public's patience was running out.

Speaking after touring a market in Nad Ali, in southern Helmand province, Mr Cameron said he had seen a "glimpse of what can be possible if we get it right".

"We can't be here for another eight years," he told the BBC. "I think following President (Barack) Obama's speech and the increase in American and British Forces we have a chance, probably our last chance, to get it right, but we do have a chance.

"But time is short. The Afghans think that time is short and the British public think that time is short."

Mr Cameron said he believed "some progress" was being made by UK forces in Helmand, although the situation was currently "not nearly good enough".

But he insisted that setting "artificial timetables" for ending the military operations would only give people "false hope".

"We all want to make progress and bring British troops home as soon as we can but any timetable has got to be based on success and results and we must not give people false hope," Mr Cameron said.

"I think it is very important not to send mixed messages. Instead let's say we're here to train up the Afghan National Army and Police and as soon as the job is done we can bring our troops home. But don't let's set artificial timetables."

In an interview with The Times, Defence Secretary Bob Ainsworth said it would be wrong to set a deadline for troop withdrawals.

"You can't put a time on it," he said. "You've got to look at conditions."