Combat or I resign
A scimitar light tank
Prince Harry: Send me to war or I quit
by CHRISTOPHER LEAKE, Mail on Sunday 08:17am 23rd April 2006
Prince Harry has threatened to quit the Army if commanders refuse to send him to the front line.
He told senior officers before recently passing out of Sandhurst as a Second Lieutenant: ‘If I am not allowed to join my unit in a war zone, I will hand in my uniform.’
Harry, 21, and third in line to the throne, has previously talked of his desire to see action with his comrades and the prospect of him walking out on the Army if he is not allowed on to the front line has turned a theoretical problem into a nightmare for the Palace and Ministry of Defence.
The embarrassment for the Army caused by him quitting would be matched by uproar at the notion that while ordinary citizens are allowed to that their main problem is not whether Harry can take the pressure of coming under fire in action – but whether the lives of the men fighting alongside him will be more at risk because he is regarded as a ‘trophy target’ by insurgents.
One experienced commander said: "Second Lt Wales will, as far as is possible, be treated like any other officer but there has to be a line drawn as to whether the men he leads might experience extra danger due to his presence. Decisions will be taken by commanding officers based on an accurate risk assessment at the time."
In talks between the MoD and Clarence House, it has been suggested that if Harry is deployed to the front line he should be given a safe role, acting as a liaison officer at a military HQ well away from the action.
But sources close to Harry said last night: "He will go bananas if he is given special treatment. He doesn’t want to let the rest of the lads and lasses down by opting out. He was always the first to volunteer on exercises."
In the final weeks of his Sandhurst training, Harry took part in an exercise in which he acted as commanding officer and sources say that his performance was ‘outstanding’.
The mobility of the Blues and Royals’ light Scimitar reconnaissance vehicles will be a great value in Afghanistan and senior commanders say the Cavalry unit could be sent to Helmand province to support Paras in what is regarded as one of the most dangerous parts of the world.
Harry would command a troop of 11 men who would drive into the front line in their Scimitars.
He would lead his men in searching possibly booby-trapped buildings, hunting down insurgents and providing escorts and combat support to infantry operations.
Harry would be required to command his Scimitar team and remain on the ground, although all troop commanders are expected to do their stint in the operations room, which involves logging events, co-ordinating patrols and directing support where needed
Harry will be only the second Royal since the Second World War to be posted to a battle zone.
The other was Prince Andrew, who flew Sea King helicopters in the Falklands War. A Clarence House die for their country, members of the Royal Family are considered too important to risk. It would also reopen the debate about Britain’s role in engagements such as Iraq which are widely unpopular and considered by many to be illegal.
The Mail on Sunday revealed last year that the Palace and MoD were holding crisis talks about how to handle Harry’s future military role.
However, his ultimatum has now raised the stakes. It will also increase the urgency of deciding how to treat Prince William who is due to leave Sandhurst in December, presenting Royal and defence officials with the same dilemma about how near the front line he should be allowed.
Harry’s unit, the Blues and Royals, will deploy to Afghanistan this year and he is likely to join them there next year.
The Bush family is confused as to why this is a debate. Combat? The rich do not serve in combat. Not when there are $250 bottles of vodka to drink in clubs.
Prince Harry will have 11 men under his command, for him not to lead them in combat, after a year of training, would be a personal betrayal and something he could never quite live down. He wants a career as an officer, that is not a low risk job. He could have chosen another kind of job, but he didn't and that is what they have to live with.
In fact, his grandfather served on a ship, and his uncle and father were in the Fleet Air Arm. Not safe, but safer than ground combat. In fact, the family has traditionally chosen the Navy to serve in for active duty.
His brother was planning a career as a Para at one point, and that would increase the danger substantially.
posted by Steve @ 10:59:00 AM