News In Depth
Harry: I killed Taliban insurgents
Prince Harry has confirmed he killed Taliban insurgents during his latest tour of Afghanistan.
As a gunner in Apache attack helicopters, the royal flew on scores of missions with his fingers on the triggers of deadly rockets, missiles and a 30mm cannon.
And now that the 28-year-old is bound for the UK after his second deployment to the war-torn country, it can be reported he took enemy fighters "out of the game" during his 20-week posting.
"Yeah, so lots of people have," he said matter-of-factly, after being asked if he had killed from the cockpit.
"The squadron's been out here. Everyone's fired a certain amount."
Harry, who is known as Captain Wales in the Army, was sent on all manner of missions over Helmand Province in southern Afghanistan, from supporting allied troops fighting the Taliban at close quarters to accompanying British Chinook and US Black Hawk helicopters on daring casualty evacuation (CASEVAC) missions.
His work as a JTAC (Joint Terminal Attack Controller) during his first tour of duty in 2007-08 saw him call in air strikes on enemy positions, which he watched unfold on a monitor nicknamed "Kill TV".
This time, it was him in the hot seat.
"Take a life to save a life," he shrugged. "That's what we revolve around, I suppose.
"If there's people trying to do bad stuff to our guys, then we'll take them out of the game, I suppose."
The prince's deployment with 662 Squadron, 3 Regiment Army Air Corps, allowed him to step back from the public eye, but speaking to reporters while stationed at Camp Bastion he admitted he had "let himself and his family down" by romping naked in a Las Vegas hotel suite just weeks earlier.
Life in the Army is "as normal as it's going to get" for Harry and he relishes having the chance to muck in as "one of the guys", but he said his father, the Prince of Wales, is always reminding him of his position.
The current third-in-line to the throne was in Afghanistan when it was announced the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are expecting their first child, and he said he was "thrilled" for the couple and "can't wait to be an uncle".
Captain Wales was hailed by his colleagues and superiors for fitting into his unit well and for being "on top of his game" during the "extremely busy" and dangerous tour.
However, the prince revealed he would rather have returned to fight on the front line alongside troops from his regiment, the Household Cavalry.
He also attacked the media for the "rubbish" they report.
Unlike his last tour of duty, there was no blackout preventing the press from reporting that he was in Afghanistan this time, but an agreement was reached that media would not speculate on his deployment.
Harry was given no special treatment during his tour, and he worked, rested, ate and slept in exactly the same conditions as the other pilots in his squadron.
The prince flew on deadly sorties over the barren desert - often for hours on end - in support of International Security Assistance Force (Isaf), Afghan National Army and Afghan National Police fighters.
However, he said the role of British Apache helicopters has changed since their arrival in 2006 with fewer contacts with the enemy than in previous years, as Isaf is increasingly mentoring the Afghan security forces, rather than fighting insurgents directly.
The frequency of engagements fluctuates throughout the year, and winter tours generally have fewer contacts than in the summer.
But Harry said his unit - nicknamed 662 "Royal" Squadron by some - needed to fire their weapons more than the Apache pilots at the same time the previous year.
"That's just the way that it's balanced out," he said.
"Mainly due to weather, well whatever, the reasons I don't know."
Apaches are used for a variety of missions in Task Force Helmand, and on most occasions their presence alone is enough to deter the enemy.
Harry flew on planned and unplanned operations during the day and night across his tour, and the prince said accompanying Chinook helicopters on CASEVAC tasks - known by the call sign Tricky - was the most important role for Apaches.
Harry's frank comments about shooting dead Taliban fighters come as no surprise, as any soldier fighting on the front line in Afghanistan is expected to take on the enemy - and Harry's job as a co-pilot gunner (CPG) is widely known.
He insisted killing the enemy was not what motivated him to become an attack helicopter pilot.
"It's not the reason I decided to do this job," he said.
"The reason to do this job was to get back out here and carry on with a job."
He explained how the roles of Apaches themselves and the CPGs inside the cockpit have developed since the aircraft were first introduced in Helmand.
"It used to be very much: front seat, you're firing the whole time.
"Now, yes we fire when we have to - take a life to save a life - but essentially we're more of a deterrent than anything else.
"We're a hugely reliable asset and the main thing for us is the Tricky escorts.
"If guys get injured, we come straight into the overhead, box off any possibility of an insurgent attack because they look at us and just go, 'Right, that's an unfair fight, we're not going to go near them'.
"But occasionally we get taken on, the guys get taken on, even when we're in the overhead.
"It's a pretty complex job for everybody involved.
"But it's not just about the shooting, it's about giving the effect to the (enemy) guys on the ground, and that's not always pulling the trigger."
Meanwhile, Harry was accused of being "arrogant and insensitive" after he talked of killing Taliban insurgents during his latest tour of Afghanistan.
Lindsey German, convenor of the Stop The War Coalition, said the comments were "crass" and asked how the Prince knew those he killed were members of the Taliban.
"In recent months many civilians have been killed by air strikes. This arrogant and insensitive attitude to killing Afghans, whoever they are, is hardly likely to win hearts and minds - a supposed aim of the war.
"Prince Harry returns to a life of idleness and luxury, unlike most soldiers who face unemployment, austerity and social problems," she said.
The Stop The War Coalition is finalising details of events next month to mark the 10th anniversary of the huge protests against going to war in Iraq.
what do you think?
"Now, yes we fire when we have to - take a life to save a life - but essentially we're more of a deterrent than anything else.Good on you Harry ! Those words would have made a better headline.
Not something to boast about HARRY,nor should the media as it only makes YOU more vunerable.Be extra vigilant when out on the town with your pals as these terrorist will stop at nothing to get revenge.
I agree robert. He shouldn't have said it and the Media certainaly shouldn't make a big deal out of it. It puts him and the rest of us at more risk
Well done Harry you've just shown just how big an idiot you are, It must cost an arm and a leg for you security it must have just trebled or more. There must be no end of pressure and risk on those serving next to you without you increasing it.
..and how have you served your Country then George? At least he has the balls to do something for himself. he didn't just walk in to the job...I'm not a huge fan of Royalty but he has my utmost respect.! Climb back into your hole buddy...
Martin I worked from 15 to retiring 6 and 7 days a week and as such served my country paying taxes etc.and contributing to the upkeep of the royal family. Harry is a high profile target to the Taliban and he has probably raised his profile more than double,this in turn puts more pressure on his mates. I think he should have kept quiet about his exploits. On another note I knew and know men who served in WW1 and WW2 I worked with men who were prisoners of war and you never heard them talk or boast of their exploits.
well said GEORGE,you dont HAVE to be in the armed forces to serve QUEEN and COUNTRY,as you say,working from 15 to retireing,paying taxes etc. must stand for something.I left school at 15,and i am still working AND paying taxes AT 71.
captain harry, you are not special in what you do, you get a lot more protection than the rest of the people in the forces who protect our country and people..
ann like many others watch the report THEN comment he was not standing there as the hero and was humble. Most certainly the part about killing is not cited as it was said
Why is this even in the bloody news?? Talk about making a meal out of nothing!
James. Very true. This is being hyped up out of all proportion to put an entirely different slant on his comments.It was only a tiny part of the total interview.
what an idiot to admit to killing mujahadeen. the amount of muslims in london will mean some will view this a jihad and end up making more work for his protection detail, and making himself more of an unesscessary target. bad press handling by palace. all media spin to divert from camerons europe vote. hardly intelligent to glorify war. the 2 us marines that were shot and killed when the camp was raided by insurgents hoping to get the prince, their friends/family will hardly appreicate this obscene coverage and talks. worringly the palace has a stupid media team.
hamish watch the report this headline is misleading
Well done Harry. I would stand shoulder to shoulder and fight them any day. He is out there to do a job and he's doing it. Its about time the media and do gooders put a sock in it. If we offend them then so be it but what about the millions world wide that they offend are we not allowed to voice our opinion without persecution and being labelled raciest.. An old soldier..
Those who are condemning Harry should shut up and watch the interview - as always you jump in with both feet before checking facts
No problems with what he does for a living but why can t he just do the job and carry on like his colleagues? He is starting to reming me of his grandad!
Why doesn't the Media leave him alone let him do the job with his colleagues, I bet he doesn't want all this media hype, he probably wishes they were somewhere else as he more or less said in his interview, just let him get on with it, what ever he says to the press will be twisted.
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saw this on every front page already. a serving soldier on active duty may have been involved in the death of enemy operatives! where's the story?
Good man that's what your out there to do. Do it to them before they do it to us!