Harry, or Captain Wales as he is known has given a frank discussion of his time in Afghanistan:
Prince Harry should be commended rather than criticised for his unfiltered reflections on his 20-week tour of duty in Afghanistan as a co-pilot gunner on an Apache helicopter.
Rather than hide behind euphemisms or portray the mission as a high-minded, essentially humanitarian exercise, Harry (who goes by the nom de guerre Captain Wales) freely admitted he’d killed Taleban fighters and likened his battlefront experiences to playing video games.
While his comments have been predictably deplored, I’d suggest he performed a public service by reminding us of the brutal reality of war-time soldiering.
He’s a professional soldier, as opposed to what many monarchists would prefer: a pretend soldier acquiring gold braid and giveaway ribbons to go with his other entitlements, while leaving the nasty, dangerous job of engaging the enemy to commoners. And a soldier’s job is to kill or facilitate the killing of the enemy.
Correct…it is the job of soliders, or in this case combat helicopter operators to make sure as many bad bastards die hard as possible in order to keep our guys safe.
Notwithstanding the apparent desire of successive governments to transform our military into a sort of uniformed branch of Volunteer Service Abroad, Harry has reminded us that its core function is fighting.
Of course the enemy sees their job in a similar light, hence the saying “kill or be killed” or, as Harry put it, “take a life to save a life”.
Judging by the reaction to the deaths of five of our soldiers in Afghanistan last August, some Kiwis appear to believe that being killed while on active service in a war zone is like being flattened by a runaway hay bale while going for a walk in the countryside: a desperately unfortunate freak occurrence.
The other widely expressed view was that our soldiers shouldn’t have died because they shouldn’t have been in Afghanistan in the first place. That raises the question of what would constitute a just war, a cause worth sacrificing lives for. There are those who give the impression that they would object to lives being put on the line for anything short of resisting an invasion by P-crazed cannibals from outer space.
This mindset reduces the armed forces to a purely ornamental function.
I can’t believe I am reading this in the Herald..but there it is, a frank account of the panty-waist attitude of the hand-wringers…and the reality of war from Prince Harry.
It has to be said that Harry’s reference to video games included an unfortunate choice of words: “It’s a joy for me because I’m one of those people who loves playing PlayStation and Xbox, so with my thumbs I like to think that I’m probably quite useful.”
Well, quite, your highness, although perhaps “joy” is ever so slightly unseemly in this context.
But again, in his gauche way, Harry has put his thumb on it: the further removed from the death scene the killer is, the more warfare becomes virtual combat.
There is joy in a job well done.
BONUS VIDEO: 2 Apaches Engage a Group of Taliban fighters setting up to ambush a U.S. special forces patrol.