Prince Harry back in UK after Afghan deployment
In this photo taken Dec. 12, 2012, made available Monday Jan. 21, 2013 of Britain's Prince Harry or just plain Captain Wales as he is known in the British Army, talks to a TV crew after making his early morning pre-flight checks on the flight-line, from Camp Bastion southern Afghanistan. The Ministry of Defense announced Monday that the 28-year-old prince is returning from a 20-week deployment in Afghanistan, where he served as an Apache helicopter pilot with the Army Air Corps. (AP Photo/ John Stillwell, Pool)
LONDON (AP) — Prince Harry returned to Britain on Wednesday after a 20-week deployment in Afghanistan, landing on a military plane in light snow at the Brize Norton military airbase northwest of London.
He had already been in the spotlight for comments made public several days ago in which he asserted that he had targeted Taliban fighters from the cockpit of his Apache attack helicopter.
In interviews conducted in Afghanistan, he said that he had fired on Taliban positions: "If there's people trying to do bad stuff to our guys, then we'll take them out of the game."
After he landed, Harry emphasized that he was pleased to be home and did not elaborate on his statements about combat, although he did indicate he plans to continue being a soldier.
"Four-and-a-half months passed really quickly," Harry said. "I'm very, very happy to be back."
He said he looked forward to seeing family and friends "behind closed doors."
"The best thing is for the boys to be back and seeing their loved ones, and I'm looking to do the same," the prince said, adding that reporters would not be invited to his family reunion.
Harry also said conditions in Afghanistan were much improved compared to his earlier deployment five years ago. "The difference is fantastic," he said.
Defense officials announced Monday that Harry — known as Capt. Wales in the army — had completed his deployment as co-pilot gunner on an Apache attack helicopter.
British troops leaving Afghanistan traditionally have a short stopover in Cyprus to decompress and are provided with four bottles of beer after a long stint on alcohol-free bases.
In this photo taken Dec. 12, 2012 and made available Monday Jan. 21, 2013 Britain's Prince Harry or just plain Captain Wales as he is known in the British Army, wears his monocle gun sight as he sits in the front seat of his cockpit at the British controlled flight-line in Camp Bastion southern Afghanistan. The Ministry of Defense announced Monday that the 28-year-old prince is returning from a 20-week deployment in Afghanistan, where he served as an Apache helicopter pilot with the Army Air Corps. (AP Photo/ John Stillwell, Pool)
Harry is expected to go to the headquarters of his Army Air Corps squadron before starting several weeks of leave. He said he looks forward to resuming some charity work and taking up some royal duties.