Helmand: The Osborne visit
In November, the Shadow Chancellor stood with many of the towns dignitaries in rememberance of the brave and the fallen.
During the laying of his wreath he was keen to emphasise that the day’s act of rememberance was not just for those in past wars but for those of the present confilcts and spoke of “Our brave soldiers serving in Afghanistan” fighting and dying in the name of security and defence.
This weekend saw George Osborne, accompanied by his colleague William Hague, visit ground troops in Helmand Province as part of a two day visit to Afghanistan. The two men had an overnight stay at the airbase in Kandahar, where many wounded military are taken for medical treatment and subsequent evacuation. In March 2009 the base suffered a fatal rocket attack when it came under fire from within its protected boundary.
The tour also included a visit to the Interim Helmand Poilce Training Centre in Lashkar Gah and the Task Force Helmand HQ. The tour continued to the Forward Operating Base, meeting with the Coldstream Guards, where they received briefings given by regional commanders. Later, they were joined by other service personnel for a meal and an opportunity for face to face discussion.
Many hundreds of servicemen and women have been killed and seriously injured by improvised explosive devices. George asked one of the troops what it was like patrolling and just how dangerous it was. The response was succinct “Imagine walking to the shops and every step you took could kill you”
Osborne was sincere with his response to the Knutsford Times when asked of British involvement in the future. “There are difficult decisions to make over defence budgets, but there is no doubt that under a Conservative government there would be 100% backing to front line troops and to all those risking lives”
From the conversation, it was certainly a time for reflection as the Shadow Chancellor spoke candidly about the reality of being there. “Understanding what our forces have to deal with and the risks that are taken on a day to day basis was a valuable experience”
All pictures supplied by the Conservative party.