Another day, another VIP visit for soldiers at Camp Bastion

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British troops tally the number of generals who have made VIP visits to Camp Bastion in the past four months by the stars on their lapels – 49 so far. And that does not include the politicians who have kept them waiting in the sun for that photo opportunity that says they really care.

Gordon Brown's visit barely engendered a ripple of anticipation this week as soldiers from the 13 Air Assault Support Regiment prepared for him to swoop through the main base in Helmand. "You have to be realistic," explained Staff Sgt Andy Pattinson. "Some of the lads will have been out on the ground for 30 hours. When they get back they want to have a shower and go to bed. Instead they will have a shower and get ready for the visit."

Capt Joel Clarke added: "In some respects it is quite an honour to see the leader of the country in the flesh. At the same time we all have our views on how the country is run. Personally, from a selfish perspective, I would like to ask him about salaries."