Prince Harry returns to Afghanistan on mission as Apache helicopter pilot

Four years after his last tour of duty, Captain Harry Wales returns to the front line

Prince Harry has returned to Afghanistan four years after he was forced to leave the country while serving as a soldier in Helmand.

The media had until today voluntarily maintained silence on the deployment for "security reasons", following requests from Buckingham Palace and the Ministry of Defence (MoD).

However, while the entirety of the Prince’s last tour was the subject of a supposed blanket embargo, there will this time be coverage of his four-month mission as an Apache helicopter pilot.

The arrangement between the British media and the MoD fell apart in 2008, 10 weeks into his tour, when an Australian website revealed his presence in Afghanistan, prompting a hurried evacuation.

Since then the third-in-line to the throne has privately stated on a number of occasions his desire to return to continue his duties.

Defence chiefs had considered the option of restricting the Prince’s possible deployment, posting him away from the front line. However he has since qualified as an Apache pilot, winning an award for the best co-pilot gunner on the 18-month course, and saying it would be pointless to put him through costly training if he was to be barred from going into combat.

Captain Harry Wales, as he is officially known in the Army, said in an interview: “You become a very expensive asset, the training’s very expensive and they wouldn’t have me doing what I’m doing. I’d just be taking up a spare place for somebody else if they didn’t have me going out on the job.”

The reason for media silence given by the MoD at the time of his first deployment in December 2007 was that disclosing his whereabouts would make him and those serving alongside him particular targets for insurgents.

The same pressures should not apply as an Apache pilot; none of the Apache helicopters have, so far, been shot down.

Harry will be based out of Camp Bastion where he will work as part of the Joint Aviation Group which provides helicopter support to the International Security and Assistance Force in the south-west of the country. He has been trained to fly in the front seat as the mission commander, a role that mostly involves operating the aircraft’s sights, sensors and weapons systems.

Prince Harry was in the headlines recently after photographs of him cavorting naked with young women during a trip to the US appeared on the web.

Although there was condemnation of his behaviour by some public figures, 33,000 people, including servicemen in Afghanistan, joined an online group “Support Prince Harry With A Naked Salute”, some doing precisely that and posting the images online.

Prince Harry would have received pre-deployment cultural awareness training where it is stressed upon departing personnel that they will be operating in the deeply traditional and conservative Pashtun region.

Training: Lessons in local culture

Cultural awareness training for personnel deployed to Afghanistan was introduced to avoid “misunderstandings” which had taken place in the early days of the British presence in Helmand, leading to friction with civilians and, at times, Afghan forces.

It is normally a quick trot through areas of religious and cultural sensitivities such as what procedure to follow while searching women’s quarters in Afghan homes; offences which may be caused by the presence of pork and alcohol; and the avoidance of statements which may be construed as racial slurs. Servicemen and women are also instructed to dress modestly and use moderate language.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
14 best kids' hoodies

14 best kids' hoodies

Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk