There is no greater honour for me, as Prime Minister, than to work with so many of you: the extraordinary men and women who make up the armed forces of our United Kingdom.
So as our thoughts turn to Christmas, I want to send you this personal message, to thank you on behalf of the whole country for everything you do for us; and to tell you just how much we appreciate the extraordinary sacrifices that you and all your families make, especially at this time of year.
Earlier this month I was on board HMS Ocean in Bahrain, meeting sailors, marines and pilots whose service is helping to bring stability to the Gulf. We talked about the challenges of being away from home – separated and at such a distance from loved ones this Christmas.
Over this holiday period, there will be around 5,000 members of our Armed Forces deployed on operations – in the desert, at sea, even under the sea operating our continuous nuclear deterrent. While even those who are able to be here in the UK will, in many cases, be on standby to deal with domestic incidents like the flood relief that so many of you helped with during your Christmas breaks last year.
Just as your commitment to our country is unfaltering – so in return we owe you the same deep commitment and unflinching support. So as I made clear when I met some of your families on Salisbury Plain earlier this year, we will honour the commitments we have made to you, including helping you to buy your own home and providing support for your children in school.
And as we go into 2017, I know there is more we can do to help and I am determined that we should do so. Because I want you – and all your families - to know that this government is on your side.
Day in and day out, you put yourselves on the line to keep us safe and to protect our interests around the world. You are the finest in the world, and your service is an inspiration to us all.
So on behalf of our whole country, let me say a huge thank you once again – and let me wish you all a peaceful Christmas and a very happy New Year.