Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 23 September 2014

Prince Harry 'thrilled' to be back

Prince Harry said it was 'great to be back'
Prince Harry arrives at RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire
Prince Harry has finished his tour in Afghanistan as an Apache co-pilot gunner

Prince Harry flew back to Britain after a 20-week tour of Afghanistan in which he revealed he killed Taliban fighters, and declared: "You get asked to do things that you would expect to do wearing this uniform, and it's as simple as that really."

The 28-year-old Apache co-pilot gunner made headlines this week after he confirmed he shot dead insurgents from the cockpit, but he said opening fire was to protect allied troops and the Afghan people.

Harry has been criticised by some for his frank comments that he took the enemy "out of the game", and soldiers "take a life to save a life".

Speaking to the press at RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire, he said: "I think for the thousands of guys that are on operations at the moment, we are continuing, essentially, to try and do a job.

"A job for ourselves, a job for the guys left and right of us, and from my point of view, especially for the guys on the ground. We are supporting the Afghan people, supporting the Afghan army. The way that things are going are fantastic - I suppose that sounds a typical MoD army answer, but it's true.

"The difference between 2006 and now is absolutely fantastic. You get asked to do things that you would expect to do wearing this uniform, and it's as simple as that really."

The prince left the war-torn country on Monday evening, and had been on post-deployment "decompression" at a British military base in Cyprus. He flew from Akrotiri on board a regular personnel aircraft - an Airbus A330 Voyager - and landed at the Oxfordshire base at around 4.45pm on Wednesday.

Harry did not go with the rest of his 662 Squadron, 3 Regiment Army Air Corps, to their headquarters in Wattisham in Suffolk. St James's Palace said he left Brize Norton privately, but did not comment on where he was headed.

Asked what his overall reflections were on his deployment to Helmand Province, Harry said: "It has been great, it's a hell of an experience. I'm really proud of the guys - the whole squadron and obviously everyone else out there. Everything seems to be going in the right direction. It's very different to when I was last out there."

The prince, known as Captain Wales in the army, is likely to have sunk his first beer in 20 weeks while in Cyprus, and he said he enjoyed the 24-hour stopover. He said: "I'm just thrilled to be back, and a bit of blue sky in Cyprus, a bit of decompression, some comedy, and back to the snow. So the four-and-a-half months has gone really quickly, but I'm very very happy to be back."

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