Prince Harry has been criticized by Taliban commanders following comments he made in a series of in-depth interviews given at Camp Bastion before his recent return from a four month tour in Afghanistan.
In those interviews, Harry, who serves as a co-pilot gunner of an Apache attack helicopter crew, said he had fired on the Taliban during operations to support ground troops and rescue injured Afghan and Nato personnel.
“If there’s people trying to do bad stuff to our guys, then we’ll take them out of the game, I suppose,” Prince Harry said. “Take a life to save a life … the squadron’s been out here. Everyone’s fired a certain amount.”
Of course, as a member of the British Army the Prince’s comments are hardly a revelation. As The Guardian notes, “His remarks may be seized upon by insurgents to stir anti-British sentiment, but the prince said he was only doing his job.”
But a row has now erupted over other remarks Prince Harry made when he described his role as a co-pilot in charge of a high-end weapons systems including air-to-surface missiles, rockets, and a 30-millimeter gun.
“It’s a joy for me because I’m one of those people who loves playing PlayStation and Xbox,” he said. “So with my thumbs I like to think I’m probably quite useful.”
According to The Telegraph, two senior Taliban commanders have called the Prince a “coward” for comparing killing in Afghanistan to computer games.
Zabihullah Mujahid, Taliban spokesman, who spoke to The Telegraph by telephone from an undisclosed location, said:
“This statement is not even worth condemning. It is worse than that. To describe the war in Afghanistan as a game demeans anyone – especially a prince, who is supposed to be made of better things.”
“It shows the lack of understanding, of knowledge. It shows they are unfamiliar with the situation and shows why they [the British] are losing.”
Another unnamed Taliban commander in Afghanistan’s southern province of Helmand where Prince Harry was based, said soldiers from all over the world were fighting in Afghanistan and that describing their combat efforts — and deaths — as part of a game showed a lack of respect, “It’s not a game. It’s very, very real,” he said.
It’s believed the Prince’s comments could now cause further PR problems for western forces Afghanistan up against the Taliban’s ongoing recruitment of locals, many of whom perceive foreign troops as oppressors.