Prince Harry Re-deployed to Afghanistan
Prince Harry has arrived in Afghanistan for his four-month tour of duty as an Apache attack helicopter pilot, the Ministry of Defence has announced. Captain Wales, as the Prince is known in the military, arrived on Thursday night at the main British base, Camp Bastion in Helmand, where he will be based with the 662 Squadron, 3 Regiment Army Air Corps.
Looking relaxed if somewhat tired, Harry gave a thumbs-up after a long journey on a troop carrier flight from Britain to Camp Bastion. He spent his first morning at the camp checking over the state-of-the-art aircraft he will soon fly. As part of the Apache’s two-man crew, Harry will be both a co-pilot and the gunner responsible for operating the aircraft’s weapon systems, which include aerial rockets, Hellfire laser-guided missiles and a 30mm machine- gun. He will also be expected to provide air cover on missions by Special Forces.
Prince Harry was greeted at Bastion by the commander of the Joint Aviation Group, Captain Jock Gordon. Captain Gordon said: “I extend an extremely warm welcome to 662 Squadron, including Captain Wales, who with his previous experience as a forward air controller on operations will be a useful asset to the Joint Aviation Group. He will be in a difficult and demanding job. And I ask that he be left to get on with his duties and allowed to focus on delivering support to the coalition troops on the ground.”
Prince Harry has never hidden his desire to serve his country on the front-line. A spokesman for the Prince said: “He is very proud to be given the opportunity to serve his country in the job for which he has been trained. He is going through the same range of emotions as any soldier before deployment: pride and anticipation. His commander’s assessment is that he is fully ready and trained. He will be treated exactly the same as any other pilot while he is there”
The Prince of Wales is said to be “immensely proud of his son”. Both he and Queen Elizabeth have been kept informed all the way along and have known for a long time the approximate time of his deployment.
This is Harry’s second deployment in Afghanistan: he spent 10 weeks in Helmand province in 2007-2008. To the Prince’s dismay, his tour of duty was cut short when an Australian newspaper leaked details of his whereabouts, despite an agreement with the press that the information will be kept secret for the Prince’s and his comrades’ safety. The secrecy was necessary because as an infantry soldier, there were fears that if the enemy knew of his presence, it would put the other British soldiers at greater risk than usual: attacks were likely to intensify because insurgents would concentrate their efforts on trying to kill or capture such a prized target. This time, however, the Prince is flying in a two-man helicopter, meaning he will be no more or less of a target than any other Apache pilot.
Harry is the first member of the Royal Family to see active combat since Prince Andrew fought in the Falklands war.
We wish Prince Harry and all the soldiers serving on the frontline safe service and return home.Filed under The United Kingdom
Tagged Afghanistan, Military, Prince Harry of Wales, Royal Air Force.