* British royal completes second Afghan deployment
* Harry operated attack helicopter weapons system
* He says he prefers army life to that of a royal
* Prince admits let himself down over Vegas pictures
By Michael Holden
LONDON, Jan 21 Britain's Prince Harry says he
killed Afghan insurgents during sorties against the Taliban
while on his second tour of duty in Afghanistan where he was a
gunner in Apache attack helicopters.
Queen Elizabeth's 28-year-old grandson, third in line to the
British throne, will return home later this week after a 20-week
posting with NATO forces at the Camp Bastion military base in
the southern province of Helmand.
Asked before he left Afghanistan if he had killed insurgents
during his tour, he said: "Yeah, so, lots of people have. ...
Yes, we fire when we have to, take a life to save a life, but
essentially we're more of a deterrent than anything else.
"If there's people trying to do bad stuff to our guys, then
we'll take them out of the game, I suppose," the second son of
heir-to-the-throne Prince Charles and the late Princess Diana
said in one of several interviews released to the media.
The Taliban had said it would do its utmost to kidnap or
kill Harry during his tour, and an Afghan insurgent warlord
labelled him a drunken "jackal" out to kill innocent Afghans.
His base was attacked on his birthday last September, but it
was never clear if he was the target or if the Taliban raid, in
which two U.S. marines were killed, was in response to a film
which was seen as insulting to the Prophet Mohammad.
Known in the military as Captain Harry Wales, he was
deployed to Afghanistan four months ago, shortly after pictures
of him frolicking naked with a nude woman at a hotel in Las
Vegas were published around the world.
"I probably let myself down, I let my family down, I let
other people down," he said of the Vegas incident. "But it was
probably a classic example of me being too much army, and not
NO SPECIAL TREATMENT
Harry's job as an Apache co-pilot was to man its weapons
system when his 662 Squadron unit flew sorties in support of
ground troops fighting Taliban or accompanying other helicopters
on missions to evacuate casualties.
However, he said killing the enemy was not what had inspired
him to become a gunner on a helicopter carrying rockets,
missiles and a machine gun.
"It's not the reason I decided to do this job. The reason
was to get back out here," he said.
Harry served as a combat soldier on the front line in
Helmand for 10 weeks between 2007 and 2008, calling in air
strikes as a "Forward Air Controller" for NATO forces, becoming
the first British royal to be engaged in combat since his uncle
Prince Andrew flew helicopters during the 1982 Falklands War.
However, his first assignment was cut short after media
leaked news of his presence. This time, the media were allowed
to say he was on active duty in Afghanistan although giving
exact details were forbidden.
In the now-released interviews, Harry said he thought his
elder brother Prince William, a Royal Air Force search and
rescue helicopter pilot, would "love" to have been in
"To be honest, I don't see why he couldn't," the royal said,
adding he had received no special treatment while on deployment
- eating, sleeping and relaxing with the other pilots.
"Yes, you get shot at. But if the guys who are doing the
same job as us are being shot at on the ground, I don't think
there's anything wrong with us being shot at as well. People
back home will have issues with that, but we're not special."
Harry's military role has enhanced his status in Britain and
helped shed a reputation of a royal wild child who admitted
dabbling in marijuana and under-age drinking, and who made
headlines when he donned a Nazi uniform to a costume party.
As one of the most world's most eligible bachelors, his
private life remains a source of huge media attention. However,
he said his antics in Vegas, where he was letting off steam
ahead of his Afghan tour, should have remained private.
Unsurprisingly, he said he was more comfortable in his
"normal" life in the army than as a British prince.
"GO UGLY EARLY"
"My father's always trying to remind me about who I am and
stuff like that," said Harry, who wore a "Go Ugly Early" badge
attached to his helmet - Ugly being the Apache call sign - and
joked that he honed his weapons' pilot skills playing
PlayStation and Xbox computer games.
He also repeated his dislike of intrusions by the British
media, something close to his heart after his mother, who spent
most of her adult life in the media spotlight, was killed in a
Paris car crash while being chased by paparazzi when he was 12.
"I think it's fairly obvious how far back (the mistrust of
the press) goes. It's when I was very small," he said.
He always read what papers wrote about him, he said.
Britain has announced it will withdraw almost half its 9,000
troops from Afghanistan by the end of the year, with nearly all
the rest due to pull out when the NATO mission finishes in late
2014, ending a war that has cost the lives of 440 British army
personnel since the U.S.-led invasion in 2001.
(Editing by Louise Ireland)