Prince Harry of Wales, who has only surfaced in public once since his naked photo scandal in Las Vegas went down last month, has surfaced in public again … in Afghanistan. As you may recall, Harry was first deployed to Afghanistan back in late 2007/early 2008 … since then, he’s become a military pilot (back in 2010) and successfully completed helicopter training here in the US (in 2011). Now, it seems, he is ready to get back into military action to begin a 4 month tour of duty in Afghanistan.
Prince Harry has been deployed to Afghanistan for four months, the Ministry of Defence says. The prince, an Apache helicopter pilot, arrived on Thursday night at the main British base, Camp Bastion in Helmand. The 27-year-old, who is third in line to the throne, will take part in combat missions against the Taliban. It is his second Afghanistan deployment – he spent 10 weeks in Helmand province in 2007-08 but was pulled out after media reported his secret deployment. Captain Wales, as he is known in the military, arrived as part of the 100-strong 662 Squadron, 3 Regiment, Army Air Corps. Royal Navy Captain Jock Gordon, Commander of the Joint Aviation Group, said: “Captain Wales, with his previous experience as a Forward Air Controller on operations, will be a useful asset. “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 is the first member of the Royal Family to see active combat since his uncle Prince Andrew fought in the Falklands war. The prince, who turns 28 next week, qualified as an Apache helicopter pilot in February this year after 18 months of rigorous training in the UK and the US. The Ministry of Defence regard the threat to Apache aircraft and crew in Afghanistan as “low”. The Taliban claim to have brought down an Apache in Afghanistan, but the British have never lost an Apache anywhere, from a total of 67, despite two minor crashes. The Apache attack helicopter is designed to hunt and destroy tanks and is equipped with rockets, missiles and an automatic cannon. During his previous deployment, Harry was a forward air controller, directing planes dropping bombs on Taliban positions in Helmand province … The BBC’s Royal Correspondent, Nicholas Witchell, believes the announcement may alter people’s opinions about the Las Vegas pictures. “Perhaps that explains why he was just a little bit too carefree on that occasion, his final foreign outing before he knew that he was off to Afghanistan,” he said. Camp Bastion is a sprawling base in Helmand and one of the largest in Afghanistan, reports Quentin Sommerville. Harry’s living quarters will be a shipping container, shared with another member of his squadron. Although basic, it is far better accommodation than the tented barracks that others, who are not Apache crew, have to sleep in. Bastion has a bar which does not serve alcohol as it is forbidden on base. It has table football, a pool table, and games. Elsewhere on Bastion there is a cigar bar and a steak restaurant, called Blues. Those working on the base are regularly awakened by the distant sound of heavy ordnance being disposed of, and a 5am call to prayer from a loudspeaker on top of the local mosque.
Yes, it would seem the revelation that Harry knew he was headed for Afghanistan back when he partied hearty in Las Vegas puts his behavior in better context. I mean, it prolly wasn’t a good idea for him to allow other people to photograph him naked but at least we can be somewhat sure that he was merely trying to blow off steam before he goes back to war. When last Harry was in Afghanistan, we got to check out fun photos of him hard at play with other soldiers. That’s not to say that he won’t be working hard but, honestly, I’d be up for checking out any photos of Harry that become available in the coming months. Let’s send Prince Harry all our best wishes for a safe tour of duty.