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Thursday, February 28, 2008

I've always thought he was cuter than William!

Prince Harry battles with terrorists!!!

Here's a video of Prince Harry in action, courtesy of PatDollard.Com!

Army commanders were making frantic arrangements last night to bring Prince Harry back from Afghanistan after an American website disclosed that he had been serving with other British troops fighting the Taliban.

The prince, who is 10 weeks into a 14-week tour, was believed to still be in the country last night among British soldiers in the southern Helmand province.

The lid was blown on Harry’s deployment yesterday afternoon by the Drudge Report, a US political blog, ending a voluntary agreement by the British media to keep it secret until he had returned. His job in Afghanistan was to monitor Taliban fighters’ movements transmitted on to screens nicknamed ‘Kill TV’.

The MoD had held a series of meetings with senior editors from all UK newspapers and broadcasters over the last three months where it had been agreed that Harry and his colleagues would have been put in greater danger had details of his presence been made public.

Commanders are now expected to activate their contingency plan to fly the prince out of Afghanistan as quickly as possible amid fears that the Taliban will step up attacks on British bases.

Emergency plans to extract Prince Harry from Afghanistan were being drawn up last night after the news leaked that he had been on a secret combat tour in Helmand province since before Christmas.

After being denied the chance to serve with his unit in Iraq, the third in line to the throne was deployed in Afghanistan in mid-December. He has been working in Helmand province as a Forward Air Controller – responsible for providing cover for frontline troops – and has been personally involved in clashes with Taleban guerrillas.

His four-month deployment had been kept secret because of a Ministry of Defence agreement with news organisations, including The Times, but the details can now be made public after the news leaked out overseas and on the internet.

One Australian news magazine, New Idea, reported Harry’s deployment a month ago, but it was not until it was carried yesterday on the Drudge Report, a major American website, that the news embargo was lifted.

The leak means the full details of Prince Harry’s mission in Helmand province can now be revealed.

— He was involved in a frontline fire-fight with the Taleban fighting alongside Gurkha troops just 500 metres from enemy positions.

— He expressed his fear that he could be a “bullet magnet” for the enemy and that extremists would be “trying to slot me” on his return to England.

— On New Year’s Eve, working as a battlefield air controller known only to pilots as “Widow Six Seven”, he called fighter bomber strikes on Taleban positions.

— He was first told that he was going to Afghanistan by the Queen, his grandmother, and said that he would have had to “bow out” of the Army if he had not been allowed to go.

Defence officials confirmed this evening that Harry, 23, a lieutenant in the Blues and Royals, was still in Afghanistan. They released a range of photographs of the Prince on the first combat deployment of a royal since his uncle, Prince Andrew, served as a helicopter pilot in the Falklands in 1982.

“His conduct on operations in Afghanistan has been exemplary,” General Sir Richard Dannatt, Chief of the General Staff, said. “He has been fully involved in operations and has run the same risks as everyone else in his battle group.”

Gordon Brown said: “The whole of Britain will be proud of the outstanding service he is giving.”

General Dannatt said he was “very disappointed” that the story had leaked out. Harry has been moved for his own safety but the Ministry of Defence said that no decision had been made on whether it was safe for Harry to remain in Afghanistan. A spokesman said: “The operational chain of command is now looking at a variety of options.”

Harry, or Cornet Wales, was due to complete a four-month tour, without the standard two-week R&R break other soldiers enjoy, in April.

He was serving with the Household Cavalry battle group, attached to 52 Brigade, in remote parts of Helmand in a potentially dangerous role coordinating all types of aircraft from US F15s and British Harrier GR9 ground-attack bombers to Apache attack helicopters and Hercules transport planes.

The Prince admitted just last week, in a media interview due to be reported on his safe return, that he could be a target for Taleban-supporting extremists in the UK.

“Once this film comes out there’ll probably be every single person, every single person that supports them, trying to slot me,” he said. “Now that you come to think about it it’s quite worrying.”

He also revealed that he often wished that he was not a prince and said that his Afghan experience was “about as normal as I’m ever going to get”. He said that he hoped that he had made his mother Diana, Princess of Wales “proud”

The Prince had been due to serve in Iraq after his graduation from Sandhurst, leading an armoured reconnaissance unit, but it was decided last May that he would present too great a target for insurgents despite his pledge not to “sit on my arse back home while my boys are out fighting for their country”.

In a pooled interview shortly before his departure for Afghanistan, the Prince said that he had accepted the decision not to send him to Iraq. But he had continued to push to be sent to Afghanistan, where almost 8,000 British troops are serving, and was finally told that he would be going by his grandmother, the Queen.

Asked whether he had thought of quitting the Army over the Iraq decision, Harry said: “I wouldn’t use the word ‘quitting’, it was a case of: ‘I very much feel like if I’m going to cause this much chaos to a lot of people then maybe I should bow out’ and not just for my own sake, for everyone else’s sake.

“It was something that I thought about but at the same time I was very keen to make this happen – or hope for the opportunity to arise, and luckily it has.”

Of his tour of duty in Afghanistan, where 88 British troops have been killed since the Taleban were ousted in 2001, he said: “It won’t be risk-free but then I didn’t join the Army thinking that I was never going to go on operations.”

The Prince flew out on December 14 and spent several weeks working in Garmsir, in the far south of Helmand province, operating just 500m from front-line Taleban positions. He has since left Garmsir to work in another part of Helmand.

As a Forward Air Controller (FAC) – or, in American military parlance, JTAC (Joint Terminal Attack Controller) – Harry has had the lives of his colleagues in his hands. During the heat of battle it was he who would call in and give final clearance for air strikes on Taleban targets, although the job also involved long hours scrutinising minute details of surveillance footage beamed from aircraft flying over enemy positions to a laptop terminal, dubbed “Taleban TV” or “Kill TV”.

This could involve pictures from drones such as the British Desert Hawk – little larger than a standard model aeroplane – to full-sized manned reconnaissance aircraft which are able to watch the ground undetected by the Taleban because of their altitude.

The Prince was also able to make use of sophisticated equipment on jets to study the area below, for instance using heat sensors to pinpoint hidden Taleban bunkers and trench systems.

“Terry Taleban and his mates, as soon as they hear air they go to ground, which makes life a little bit tricky,” he explained to a British reporter in the field.

“So having something that gives you a visual feedback from way up means that they can carry on with their normal pattern of life and we can follow them.”

As part of his battlegroup’s Fire Planning Cell, one of his most important responsibilities was to prevent accidents such as planes being hit by mortars and artillery shells or even friendly fire tragedies. This entailed controlling a key “bubble” of airspace known as a ROZ or Restricted Operating Zone, giving jets permission to enter when safe to do so.

Although Harry’s work saw him spend hours on end speaking with pilots from many countries over the radio, they knew him only by his call sign Widow Six Seven. Other colleagues were sworn to secrecy.

News of his deployment was greeted with excitement on, the Army Rumour Service website, although users were warned not to give away any operational details.

“That explains the tabloids’ sudden lack of stories about him!” wrote one poster. Another asked: “Does anybody else feel just a tad proud knowing that our Queen’s own grandson has been putting/calling down ordnance on Terry [Taleban]?”

In another pooled interview given from Helmand province Harry, who has established a reputation for enjoying London’s night-life, was asked what he missed most from his life in Britain.

“Erm, I don’t know actually. Nothing really,” he replied. “It’s bizarre, I’m out here now, haven’t really had a shower for four days, haven’t washed my clothes for a week and everything seems completely normal.

“So, yeah, I honestly don’t know what I miss at all. Music, we’ve got music. We’ve got light, we’ve got food, we’ve got drink.

“No, I don’t miss booze, if that’s the next question. It’s nice just to be here with all the guys and just mucking in as one of the lads.”

Other news:

Prince Harry has 30 kills!! Great job!!