Brown: We know what we’re doing in Afghanistan

By Alex Stevenson

Gordon Brown reached out to voters, the armed forces and international coalition partners as he sought to sell his strategy on Afghanistan.

The prime minister told the Today programme he was confident of securing more reinforcements for Nato forces engaged in the fight against the Taliban.

He called on allies to provide more soldiers on the ground in Afghanistan and named a specific figure – 5,000 additional troops – which he would aim towards.

“We need our other Nato allies to help. I’m asking them to help,” he said.

Mr Brown claimed credit for the ‘Afghanisation’ strategy, which focuses on increasing the number of Afghan security forces.

“I believe I can persuade countries who said only a few weeks ago they would send no more troops to Afghanistan that… if there is a way forward that allows their troops to come home over time it’s right for them to contribute troops as well,” he added.

“Burden-sharing will happen.”

The prime minister made clear his audience was not just coalition allies but the British people, too. Following poignant Armistice Day scenes on Wednesday the increasing frequency of British casualties is denting public sympathy for the ongoing effort.

“In any conflict there are periods you go through where people start to doubt whether the strategy you’ve got is right. You’ve got to persuade people you’ve thought of everything,” Mr Brown said.

“I spent the summer trying to persuade the rest of the coalition as well as ourselves… Success is not so much about what happens, but how you deal with what happens.”

Mr Brown responded to the death of 20-year-old soldier Jamie Janes by misspelling his surname in a letter of condolence to his mother.

“The criticism is nothing to what I know parents are going through,” Mr Brown said.

“I understand grief and pain and suffering in a period when you’ve lost someone involves. It does lead to questions we’ve got to answer.”

He refused to criticise the Sun newspaper, which published his letter after announcing its rejection of the Labour government earlier this autumn.

“What decisions the Sun makes through its editor and then through its British operation is a matter for them. I’m really not going to get involved in that,” the prime minister said.

He admitted he had had a conversation with Sun owner Rupert Murdoch, however.

Mr Brown said: “It was a very friendly conversation. I’ve got a great deal of respect for what he has done and I hope he’s got some respect for me.”