(LONDON) — Britain’s Prince Harry is “in the thick of” fighting in Afghanistan and has had “multiple engagements” with the Taliban during his time in the war zone, according to a new report in the UK’s The Sun.
Harry, 28, is one month into a four-month tour of duty as a chopper pilot in Afghanistan. He is stationed at Camp Bastion in Helmand province, on the front line. Citing an unnamed “military source,” the Sun reports that Harry, known as Captain Wales in the British Army, is part of a four-man team on around-the-clock standby both to fire at the enemy and to provide cover for aircraft rescuing wounded soldiers.
“Think World War Two Spitfire pilot and The Battle of Britain,” the source told the Sun. “He can be sat in a deckchair for hours then scrambled immediately. When in the air his role is diverse.”
The palace has had no comment on Harry’s time in Afghanistan.
The prince, third-in-line to the British throne, also served a tour of duty in Afghanistan in 2008 that was cut short because of publicity and concerns for the safety of him and his fellow soldiers.
The news of Prince Harry’s reported direct engagement with Taliban fighters comes less than one month after Camp Bastion was attacked by 15 Taliban fighters dressed in U.S. Army uniforms.
Two U.S. Marines were killed in the attack, and nine others were wounded, including one civilian contractor. NATO officials said at the time that Prince Harry was several miles away, and was never in danger during the attack.
Harry qualified as an Apache helicopter pilot in February after completing a rigorous 18-month training program in the United Kingdom and United States that left him and his fellow trainees, “up to the challenge of operating one the of the most sophisticated attack helicopters in the world,” according to a statement from Britain’s Defense Ministry.
The Sun broke news last January that the 18-month training program included Harry, who first entered the military in 2005, being hooded and threatened in intense hostage training to prepare him for a possible return to Afghanistan.
Harry is the first British royal to complete that level of intense training, according to the Sun. His current tour of duty in Afghanistan will make him one of the most decorated Royals in history.
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