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Prince Harry in Afghanistan for second tour of duty

10 september 2012, 10:00
0
Britain's Prince Harry is back in Afghanistan to serve as a military helicopter pilot four years after his previous deployment there had to be cut short, AFP reports citing the Ministry of Defence.

The 27-year-old, who hit the headlines last month after he was photographed nude during a wild week of partying in Las Vegas, will spend four months based at Camp Bastion in the restive Helmand province of southern Afghanistan.

"Prince Harry, known as Captain Wales in the military, arrived today at Camp Bastion, Helmand Province, to start an operational tour as an Apache pilot," the MoD said in a statement.

The MoD said Harry's squadron "will provide surveillance, deterrence and, when required, close combat attack capabilities as well as escort duties for other aircraft".

The prince, the third in line to the throne, has made no secret of his desire to return to Afghanistan and serve his country.

In 2008, he had to be hastily withdrawn from Afghanistan when a news blackout surrounding his deployment was broken.

On that occasion, he was based on the ground directing aircraft in attacks on Taliban positions, and so arguably was more vulnerable.

Military chiefs feared that his security and that of his fellow troops had been compromised by the blackout being breached.

They have taken a different approach to the prince's new deployment however, releasing photographs and video of him in Afghanistan from the start.

The Ministry of Defence said his second tour of duty "has been long planned and the threat to him and others around him thoroughly assessed".

"Any risk posed by Captain Wales's deployment, based on capability, opportunity and intent of the insurgency, has been, and will continue to be, assessed and has informed the decision to deploy him."

Harry completed his training as a pilot of the powerful Apache attack helicopters in February and was posted to an air assault brigade to gain further flying experience and to operate the aircraft on a number of exercises.

Speaking in April, the prince said he did not see the point of training as a helicopter pilot if he was never going to take up a airborne role in the army.

"I'd just be taking up a spare place for somebody else if they didn't have me going out on the job," he said.

The prince, the youngest of the two sons of the late Princess Diana and Prince Charles, had appeared to have shaken off his label of the "playboy prince" when he visited the Caribbean earlier this year and charmed his hosts.

But a game of strip billiards and a 'race' against Olympic swimming star Ryan Lochte in Las Vegas in August put him back on the front pages for all the wrong reasons.

He made light of the incident when he appeared at a children's charity awards event in London on Monday, telling the audience he was "never one to be shy in coming forward".


By Guy Jackson

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