KABUL – Gordon Brown visited troops in Afghanistan on Saturday just hours after former senior military figures accused him of being "disingenuous" in the evidence he gave to the Iraq Inquiry.
The prime minister flew into Camp Bastion to thank some of the 4,000 British forces involved in Operation Moshtarak, last month's assault on Taliban strongholds in Helmand province which was deemed a "major success."
"My visit is an opportunity to say thank you to the thousands of British, Afghan and international troops involved and to the dozens of civilian experts working on stabilization," Brown said.
"Their bravery, sacrifice and professionalism are an example of how the international community can and should intervene to make us all safer.
"The Afghan Army is already rapidly expanding. Around 7,000 Afghan troops are being trained each month. But we also need a strong Afghan police force to create enduring security. That is a key challenge for the next phase."
Brown also visited an Afghan police training center and a forward operating base that was a Taliban compound until recently.
During his visit, he announced an extra 150 extra British police trainers would be provided as well as $27 million for metal detectors to counter attacks by improvised explosive devices.
He also said there would be an announcement in the lower house of the U.K. parliament for a £100 million program to replace snatch vehicles, linked to over 30 deaths in Afghanistan and Iraq.
The new British-built vehicles, which Downing Street sources said offer world-leading armor along with high maneuverability, should arrive in Afghanistan by late 2011.
Sky News sources said Saturday's trip was likely to be Brown's last trip to Afghanistan before the general election.
The prime minister's aides dismissed suggestions that the visit was a stunt, insisting Brown regularly visits troops at this time of year.
Asked whether the trip amounted to electioneering, the prime minister said, "I am here because I want to thank the British troops for their bravery, their dedication and their professionalism."
His visit came after Lord Boyce, who was the head of the military at the time of the Iraq invasion, attacked Brown, saying the U.K. Ministry of Defence (MoD) was underfunded at the time.
"He's dissembling, he's being disingenuous," Boyce told The Times of London.
"It's just not the case that the Ministry of Defence was given everything it needed. There may have been a 1.5 percent increase in the defense budget, but the MoD was starved of funds."