In response to criticisms that her pregnancy would hinder her performance, Defence Minister Carme Chacón made a surprise visit to Spanish peace-keeping troops in Afghanistan last Friday, just five days after she was sworn in. The minister, who is expecting her first child in two months’ time, had to make the trip in an uncomfortable Army plane, and was accompanied by a doctor, an anaesthetist, a paediatrician and all the necessary medical equipment for a premature birth. Her visit added to her list of “firsts” – first woman defence minister, first pregnant defence minister and now the first pregnant woman defence minister to visit the troops in Afghanistan. Despite looking tired after the long journey, Sra Chacon inspected the troops and told them she had wanted to tell them personally just how much the Spanish people appreciated what they were doing in Afghanistan. Her two predecessors, José Bono and José Antonio Alonso, waited three weeks after their appointment before visiting the troops there.


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