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    Fox vows to fully equip troops in Afghanistan


    by ODN


    Defence Secretary Liam Fox has promised British troops in Afghanistan that the new coalition Government would ensure they have everything they needed to do the job.

    On his first visit since taking office this month, he also vowed there would be no going back on a Tory pledge to double the operational allowance paid to those on the frontline.

    Dr Fox, Foreign Secretary William Hague and International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell flew into Camp Bastion in the early hours after a day of talks in Kabul on Saturday.

    They were diverted to the Helmand base after being forced to tear up plans to visit Kandahar Airfield after it came under attack from the Taliban.

    But the three ministers - on the first visit to the country by members of the new Conservative-Liberal Democrat administration - affirmed their commitment to the US-led strategy already in place.

    Mr Hague repeatedly refused to put a date on when British troops might start to withdraw from the country. They currently number about 10,000.

    Dr Fox also said the Tories' manifesto promise to double the operational allowance for troops serving in Afghanistan had been included in last week's coalition agreement.

    The allowance is presently worth about £2,600 per six-month tour and is tax-free.

    The three ministers were flown into Lashkar Gah on Chinook helicopters, which then took them on to Nad-e Ali, where they were shown the results of dramatic improvements in security in recent months.