Sep 15 2012
Prince Harry should not be withdrawn from his military role in Afghanistan despite an attack on the Camp Bastion military compound, defence experts have said.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for Friday night's attack, saying it was carried out because Harry was on the base and in revenge for an anti-Islamic film. The Prince was unharmed, but two US Marines were killed and several more wounded.
A British soldier from 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards was killed by a roadside bomb in an unrelated incident on Friday. He died when his vehicle hit an improvised explosive device in the Nahr-e Saraj district of Helmand province. Next of kin have been told.
US officials said the attack on Camp Bastion was by heavily-armed insurgents and involved a range of weaponry, including mortars, rockets or rocket-propelled grenades, as well as small arms fire.
Harry, an Army captain, is based at Camp Bastion for his second tour of duty, due to last four months. The Prince was about two kilometres away with other crew members of the Apache attack helicopters, of which he is a co-pilot gunner, when the attack took place, sources said.
Qari Yousef Ahmadi, a spokesman for the Taliban, told The Associated Press: "We attacked that base because Prince Harry was also on it and so they can know our anger." He added: "Thousands more suicide attackers are ready to give up their lives for the sake of the Prophet."
Tory MP Colonel Bob Stewart, a former commander of British troops in Bosnia, said he did not think the Prince should be pulled out of Afghanistan because of the Taliban. "To hell with them," he said. "Harry wants to go there and our soldiers want him there. He should stay."
But Col Stewart stressed the security considerations regarding the deployment of the Prince were flexible. "These things aren't set in concrete. If circumstances really change then we'll make different judgments. Capturing, killing or hurting Prince Harry would be a huge propaganda coup for the Taliban."
Major Charles Heyman, a former infantry officer and editor of The Armed Forces of the United Kingdom publication, warned against the dangers of "playing into the hands of the Taliban". He said: "On balance it is a difficult equation but I think he should be kept there. If we take him away the Taliban will crow that they have just scored a major victory. The second point is it would affect the morale of the troops on the ground if Prince Harry was taken out just because there was a threat."
A Ministry of Defence spokesman said: "The threat to all our service personnel is continually assessed and all measures taken to mitigate it. As we stated last week, the deployment of Captain Wales has been long planned and the threat to him and others around him thoroughly assessed. We stated that any risk posed by his deployment, based on the capability, opportunity and intent of the insurgency, is continually reviewed."