Prime Minister David Cameron handwrote a Christmas message to all patrol bases in Helmand, praising the troops for their "service" in Afghanistan and thanking them for making the country "prouder than ever." He said:
To you all. As a country we are always immensely proud of our armed forces, but this year you have made us prouder than ever.
The professionalism and valour you have shown in Afghanistan has been remarkable and we can see real progress, with the successful handover to Afghan forces well under way.
We should remember at this time especially all those who have been wounded or paid the ultimate price - and our prayers go out to their families.
British forces have also served successfully all around the world including tackling the pirate and terrorist threats off the Horn of Africa. Our forces performed magnificently at the Olympic and Paralympic Games - putting a smiling face on the greatest show on Earth (and winning medals too).
Your work has kept us safe for another year - and made us proud of what you do. Wherever you are this Christmas: thank you for your service.
You are the BEST.
More top news
Hurricane Maria is currently pummelling Puerto Rico with 155mph winds after already leaving at least nine people dead in the Caribbean.
Two men have been seriously injured after a gas explosion on an industrial estate.
The two top figures in the far-right group have been charged over leaflets and videos distributed in May.