Prince Harry Not Going Iraq, After All
After early indications otherwise, the UK’s chief of staff has decided that sending Prince Harry to Iraq would needlessly endanger both himself and his comrades.
Britain’s Prince Harry will not be sent with his unit to Iraq, Britain’s top general said Wednesday, citing specific threats to the third in line to the throne and the risks to his fellow soldiers.
Gen. Sir Richard Dannatt, the army chief of staff who recently traveled to Iraq, said the changing situation on the ground exposed the prince to too much danger. Media scrutiny of Harry’s potential deployment exacerbated the situation, he said. “There have been a number of specific threats, some reported and some not reported, that relate directly to Prince Harry as an individual,” Dannatt said. “These threats exposed him and those around him to a degree of risk I considered unacceptable.”
Clarence House, the office of Harry’s father, Prince Charles, issued a statement declaring Harry’s disappointment that “he will not be able to go to Iraq with his troop deployment as he had hoped.” “He fully understands Gen. Dannatt’s difficult decision and remains committed to his army career,” the statement said. “Prince Harry’s thoughts are with the rest of the battle group in Iraq.
The Defense Ministry had long said the decision would be kept under review amid concerns for the security of Harry, a second lieutenant, and other soldiers serving with him. The 22-year-old prince is a tank commander trained to lead a 12-man team in four armored reconnaissance vehicles. The move comes as Britain is preparing to hand over much of its security responsibilities to Iraqi security forces, concentrating troops at Basra Palace and Basra Air Base.
Insurgent groups looking to target Cornet Wales — as his rank is called in the Blues and Royals regiment — would have had a concentrated area in which to look for him. Defense officials had previously said Harry could be kept out of situations where his presence could jeopardize his comrades. There had been speculation he would have been shadowed by bodyguards. “A contributing factor to this increase in threat to Prince Harry has been the widespread knowledge and discussion of his possible deployment,” Dannatt said.
Harry would have been the first member of the British royal family to serve in a war zone since his uncle, Prince Andrew, flew as a helicopter pilot in the Falklands conflict with Argentina in 1982.
Likely the prudent call, although a disappointing one from the standpoint of sharing the burdens of war. This does, however, have to call into question the future role of the royal family in the military. If they are deemed non-deployable, then they are approximately as useful (to paraphrase a former commander of mine) as teats on a boar hog.
Some may mock Harry’s statement that he is disappointed in not deploying with his men. Having (long ago) been a 22-year-old second lieutenant, however, I’m quite sure his sentiments are genuine. At that age, military officers “get” to go to war and find “missing out” on the “action” quite frustrating.