PM: Remember soldiers' sacrifices
David Cameron has urged families sitting down to enjoy Christmas dinner to pause and remember the "extraordinary sacrifices" being made by Britain's armed forces.
The Prime Minister praised the crew of HMS Illustrious who have cancelled their leave to take aid to help people in the Philippines struggling to rebuild their lives after last month's devastating typhoon.
Fresh back from a seasonal visit to troops in Camp Bastion, Mr Cameron also urged the country to "take pride" in the military's achievements in Afghanistan.
In an article for The Sun on Sunday, the PM wrote: "As we gather with our families this Christmas let's remember the extraordinary sacrifices being made by Britain's armed forces serving our country thousands of miles from home.
" The crew of HMS Illustrious who cancelled their Christmas leave to help bring aid to thousands in the Philippines. The British forces supporting the training mission in Mali.
" The Navy personnel tackling pirates off the coast of Somalia and maintaining our nuclear deterrent in the depths of the oceans. And, of course, the many members of our armed forces spending their Christmas serving in Afghanistan.
" I went out to see some of them last week. At Sterga 2, our most forward operating base in Helmand, they talked about what it was like being away from their families at this time of year.
It was clear just how much the messages of support from home meant to them."
All British combat soldiers will be pulled out of Afghanistan by the end of next year. During his visit to Helmand province earlier this week, Mr Cameron raised eyebrows when he said Britain had accomplished its mission but has underlined the suggestion today.
In the article he wrote: " By the end of next year we will no longer have British servicemen or women in a combat role in Afghanistan.
"Of course, we will not leave behind a perfect country or a perfect democracy. Afghanistan is an extremely poor country with a very troubled history.
"But we should remember the purpose of the Nato mission. We sent our service men and women to build Afghan security forces that were capable of maintaining a level of security so that Afghanistan could never again become a haven for terrorist training camps. They will achieve that.
" So as we think about our brave armed forces this Christmas, let's take pride in their achievements in Afghanistan. They have helped to rebuild a country and put it on the path towards reconciliation, investment and lasting security.
Our troops should be very proud of what they have done. And we should be very proud of them."