Thursday, February 28, 2008

Prince Harry "pays his dues" by fighting in Afghanistan

The Drudge Report and Bloomberg broke a scoop today, that Britain’s 23-year-old Prince Harry Windsor was stationed in southern Afghanistan, serving as a lieutenant in a foxhole or bunker, firing off machine gun rounds and calling in chopper strikes against Taliban and Al Qaeda insurgents. The story is by Kitty Donaldson and the link is here.

The story had been kept a secret within Britain and in the press for ten weeks, as he had started service in December 2007. The Queen, his grandmother, had approved. The British Army had been unwilling to send him to Iraq because of security reasons. Harry keeps his steel pot and helmet on, hiding his red hair and face from easy recognition.

Apparently, Drudge first picked up the story from an Australian source.

Major news media presented stories tonight. It is likely that the British government will remove him and reassign him away from combat areas.

The NBC Nightly News show for 2/28 has a Web Extra video link (5:47) here. At one point it shows him handling a cigarette (that’s depressing!) Harry is third in line to the British throne.

Harry’s service fits in to the debate about the “everyone serves” principle, that people should not be sheltered from sharing risks because of family advantages. (I was “sheltered” in the Army however, and never went to Vietnam.) It fits into the debate in the US on national service, the possibility of resuming a formal draft, and the current stop-loss “backdoor draft.”

Harry and William, as "the boys", presented a bang-up concert at Wembley in July to honor their mother Princess Diana; they were informal and looked as though they would navigate the disco circuit.

The story leaked one day after a bizarre story from Canada and Britain about military personnel security and the Internet (Feb 27).

Update: March 1

The British government did remove him from Afghanistan. Prince William is likely to serve in the Royal Navy later this year.

Yet a question remains, if Prince Harry's "presence" endangers the security of his unit in a combat area, what does that say about how well Britain has secured its combat theater in Afghanistan? What does that say about the effectiveness of the coalition with the United States? Presumably, with the proper military security that is expected, Harry's "presence" would provoke no risk, because his area should be impenetrable anyway. So, what is really going on "over there"?

So try this "litany" on SNL, and have the players recite it in unison: "Royal blood is incompatible with military service. The presence in the military environment of persons with royal blood seriously impairs the accomplishment of the military mission...." Remember the "123 Words."

March 10, 2008

AOL is running an AP story by Rohan Sullivan "Magazine Sorry for Prince Harry Story", about an apology from New Idea Magazine in Australia. The AOL link is here. (AP's search function for stories on its own site was not working this morning.)

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