Peter MacKay said Friday that the Conservatives are still committed to 5 Wing Goose Bay. ((Greg Baker/Associated Press))

National Defence Minister Peter MacKay said Friday his government is still committed to adding a battalion at a Labrador military base.

However, MacKay said the war in Afghanistan is his department's top spending priority.

The federal budget brought down this week was the third in a row to have no money for a promised new rapid-response battalion for 5 Wing Goose Bay.

The Conservatives have drawn fire from Labrador residents and the Newfoundland and Labrador government for not following through on the promise, made before the 2006 federal election.

MacKay, who is attending a meeting of Atlantic Conservative MPs in the Conception Bay area, told reporters that expansion of the air base still figures in DND's long-term plans.

However, he said that at this point, any additional money will be used for troop support in Afghanistan.

5 Wing Goose Bay had once been a bustling hub for international military flights. However, activity at the base is a shadow of what it once was, as foreign partners have ceased most training programs.