Shorter desperate Whitehall spin: but the rest of you will be just fine, honest, even if you’re not in a tank unit, and of course the COW is totally winning in Iraq. [news story]
Chris Heyman, an ex-military editor of a book about the UK Armed Forces channels Sir Humphrey for Townhall.com
“Soldiers will say: ‘If it’s too dangerous for Prince Harry, then it’s too dangerous for me. Is his life worth more than mine?’ Well, from a political point of view, yes. But from a morale point of view the answer is no,” Heyman said.
Heyman goes on to point out that without combat experience in Iraq or Afghanistan, Harry will be one of the only soldiers of his generation who will not have served in this conflict, which will squelch his military credibility and hopes for future merit-based promotion and a genuine Army career. He’ll have to be prepared for seeing this picture from 1993 of him playing tank commander suddenly appear wherever he goes on (protected) duty.
I imagine he’s thoroughly pissed off. Even those of us who see the monarchy as an obsolete appendage to the modern state can’t deny that in general the royals who serve in the military have their fair share of ordinary courage, and this is what he’s trained for for years. Of course he wants to see whether he’s actually got the bottle for it.
I can see the differences between this decision and the decision to deploy Prince Andrew as a Navy helicopter pilot in the Falklands conflict. The Argies hadn’t gone on television gloating about plans to torture Prince Andrew if they captured him and making a special target of him above all other British servicemembers. Prince Andrew ran a normal operational risk of death in his combat duties, and his helicopter crew likewise. The threats against Prince Harry are definitely of a totally different order, particularly as the UK plans to withdraw from broad operations in Southern Iraq and concentrate their forces around Basra, making the tank units especially easy to locate.
Still, a propaganda coup for the insurgents.