During his 20-week tour, he lived in a shared room in an accommodation block made from modified shipping containers.
Note: This article is from the Guardian.
Life in a heavily fortified military base thousands of miles from home, in the middle of a desert that is a battleground, may not seem like normal life for most people.
But in the interviews he gave while in Afghanistan, Prince Harry said the austere environment at Camp Bastion was about “as normal as it’s going to get” for a 28-year-old member of the Windsor family.
A vast featureless base in the middle of Helmand province, Camp Bastion is home to thousands of British military personnel, and Captain Wales was not afforded any privileges as he ate and slept among them.
During his 20-week tour, he lived in a shared room in an accommodation block made from modified shipping containers. The prince furnished his with a couple of rugs from Afghanistan and the UK.
He had the freedom to walk around the base, to visit the gym, drop off his laundry and eat in the canteen – albeit accompanied by officers from SO14, the Metropolitan police’s royal protection branch.
But even this didn’t give him the anonymity he says he wanted. Being stuck in camp was a “pain in the arse” and “frustrating”, he said.
“For me it’s not that normal because I go into the cookhouse and everyone has a good old gawp, and that’s one thing that I dislike about being here,” he said. “Because there’s plenty of guys in there that have never met me, therefore look at me as Prince Harry and not as Captain Wales, which is frustrating. Which is probably another reason why I’d love to be out in the PBs [patrol bases], away from it all. It’s as normal as it’s going to get. I’m one of the guys. I don’t get treated any differently.”
The prince described how the Apache crews spent some of their time in the “very high readiness” tents, which are manned round the clock by four airmen.
These are the crews that deploy immediately when a situation arises, rather than for operations that have been planned. There is a “shout” telephone in the tent that rings when they are needed.
From there it is a 45-second sprint to the helicopters, which will already be fully armed and fuelled. The pilots’ kit is draped across the weapons pylons.
“It is probably the most rewarding if you’re busy,” Harry said. “You can fly up to seven-and-a-half hours in a day. We did seven hours ten [minutes] the other day, which is exhausting. And other days you can be in and out of the tent eight or ten times doing half-an-hour here, 45 minutes there, etcetera. It’s definitely the one that has the most exciting end product, I suppose.
“As soon as we get a shout, whatever it is, we just try to do the best we can to get up there as quick as we can. We get to the aircraft as quick as possible – about six-and-a-half, seven minutes is the quickest we’ve got it going. You can’t lift off until certain things are done in the aircraft and then as soon as you’ve got clearance from the ops room … off you go as fast as you can. Once you’re there, who knows what the situation’s going to be like.”
He added: “Every time you run to the aircraft you get that adrenaline rush, and then once you’re in the aircraft you’ve got to try to slow yourself down because otherwise if the adrenaline’s pumping too much and everything happens too quickly, then you’re going to miss something. You narrow down the checks to keep them as short and as brief as possible. It’s all about getting from A to B as quickly as possible, but at the end of a day [if] you’ve had a few shouts and things have got quite hectic in the cockpit, and you’ve got no adrenaline left in you, then you are exhausted.”
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