Prince Harry could return to Afghanistan duty: reports

16th June 2011, Comments 0 comments

Britain's Prince Harry has been given the green light to return to action in Afghanistan as an attack helicopter pilot, newspapers said Thursday.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) refused to confirm the reports in The Sun and the Daily Mirror, while the prince's office said the claim was "hypothetical" because the prince had not yet completed his training on the Apache helicopter.

Harry has made it clear he is determined to serve again in Afghanistan, where his deployment in 2007-2008 had to be hastily cut short after 10 weeks when a media blackout was broken.

The MoD said it would not comment "on the deployment of individual service personnel".

The Sun said military chiefs and Queen Elizabeth II had agreed that Harry, who is third in line to the throne, can return to frontline action. A final decision, which will remain secret, is expected early next year.

Harry, 26, completed the first stage of training to fly Apaches in April and was promoted to captain. At the time, the prince said it would be pointless for him to train as a pilot if the army did not intend to deploy him.

A spokesman for the prince's Clarence House office said: "He is still training. He has still got another eight months of Apache training to go. Until he finishes that, the question of redeployment is hypothetical.

"The nature of redeployment of Prince Harry will be something that the MoD general command addresses in due course.

"But it has always been his intention to serve operations wherever the army sends him."

Britain recently deployed Apache helicopters to Libya in the hope that their formidable fire power will help break the stalemate in the rebels' fight against leader Moamer Kadhafi's forces.

In his tour of duty in Afghanistan, the prince served as a forward air controller calling in air strikes on Taliban positions.

But foreign websites broke an unprecedented blackout on the reporting of the prince's involvement which had been imposed due to fears he would be targeted by insurgents.

Britain has about 9,500 troops in Afghanistan, making it the second-largest contributor after the United States to the NATO-led coalition.

© 2011 AFP

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