Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Prince Harry to serve in Sierra Leone

ARMY chiefs want to despatch Prince Harry to West Africa for a taste of active service.
The mission would mean that the third in line to the throne would escape the Iraqi snipers with his pride intact. 
His challenge would be to train soldiers and rebuild a country emerging from a brutal civil war. It would compensate him for missing out on leading his men in the Household Cavalry’s Blues and Royals.
Army chiefs, who decided it was unsafe for Harry to go to Iraq, are determined he does not become bitter at barrack life in London and Windsor.
They also want him to have a medal for active service so that he can say he has done his duty when his colleagues return.

One source said: “He has to have something to compensate for the obvious humiliation of not being allowed to go to Iraq. Sierra Leone is the most active service set-up. There is a real job to do in Sierra Leone and he could say that he has done his duty.”
It emerged yesterday that the decision to ban Harry from Iraq was taken by the Chief of the Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup.
He is the supreme military commander of the Armed Forces and passed on his decision to General Sir Richard Dannat, the head of the Army.
The order was relayed to the 22-year-old Prince by his private secretary on Wednesday. Sources close to Harry said he took the decision calmly and maturely but afterwards he was said to have been “beside himself”.

One source said: “He is an extremely popular bloke inside his troop and very well thought of indeed. Being kept in Britain when your unit goes off to Iraq is like being cut off from your military family.
“Harry was beside himself. But he is relatively content to stay with the other half of his regiment in Knightsbridge. There is no immediate prospect of Harry putting in his papers. But he has got to have an active service medal ribbon to wear.”
If the Sierra Leone plan falls through, another option under consideration is to train Harry as a paratrooper.
A senior defence source said: “The Chief of the General Staff seems to have implied that Harry should be given something worthwhile to do as compensation rather than carrying on with routine subaltern’s duties within the regiment.
“The obvious option is parachute training. But there is a miscellany of courses for him to do – anything from fire officer to health and safety to accounts. There is no reason why he should be bored.”
But as Harry reviews his military future there is mounting anger among many servicemen and their families.
They argue he should not be spared the dangers facing British and allied troops in Iraq.
Balvinder Safri, who is based at the Basra Contingency Operating Base, summed up their strong feelings yesterday. He said: “I think it is appalling that he is not being sent. If it is not safe for Harry, why are the rest of us here?”
He said British troops had not been pulled out when they had been warned of a specific threat of kidnap.
“Harry joined the military and should serve with his troop. He is no different to any other officer and should be treated as such,” he added.
In the Wiltshire garrison town of Warminster, where Prince Harry completed some of his training, there was also anger among service families.
“If they do it for Harry, then what about my grandson?” said Army veteran Richard Eaton. “He shouldn’t go to war – he doesn’t want to go to war, why should he? He might get shot. But his name’s not Harry and he’s not a royal.”
Despite the claims of senior officers, regular soldiers based at Combermere Barracks in Windsor, where Harry spends much of his time, were far from sympathetic to his plight.
One called Daniel, who was enjoying a pint in Maloney’s Bar in the town yesterday, said: “We have always known he wouldn’t go.
“He’s a posh boy and there was no chance of him fighting in the first place.”
Defence experts and relatives of many of the 148 British service personnel who have died in Iraq have warned that the decision to keep Harry away from the front line will ultimately force him to resign his commission.
But Clarence House has insisted he will stay in the Army. The tradition of Royal Family members serving in the Armed Forced was championed by Defence Secretary Des Browne yesterday.
 “I don’t accept for a moment that the long tradition of the Royal Family serving in the military is in any sense an anachronism,” he said.


Link to Daily Express: The World's Greatest Newspaper :: News / Showbiz :: Harry will fight on the frontline