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OTRC: Prince Harry to return to Afghanistan?

Prince Harry on patrol through the deserted town of Garmisir close to FOB Delhi (forward operating base), where he was posted in Helmand province Southern Afghanistan in 2007 and 2008. This photo was posted online by the Prince of Wales' press office. (Prince of Wales press office / princeofwales.gov.uk)

Prince Harry may return to Afghanistan as an Apache attack helicopter pilot after completing his military training, reports say.

The 26-year-old, who is the younger brother of the United Kingdom's Prince William, served with the British military in the war-torn country for several weeks, starting in late 2007. He was ordered to withdraw after the press reported of his deployment, which sparked fears that he could become a targeted by pro-Taliban insurgents. Harry has said he hopes to return to the front lines in Afghanistan.

He completed an eight-month helicopter training course that began in July 2010. The prince is now undergoing "conversion to role" training, which is set to end in seven months, the UK newspaper the Guardian reported on Thursday, June 16.

"Harry is an army pilot and will deploy wherever the army chooses to send him," the news outlet quoted a spokesperson for Clarence House, the official residence of The Prince of Wales, as saying, "His course finishes in 2012 and after that his deployment will be a matter for the army chain of command."

Harry's squadron is set to return to Afghanistan in 2012, most likely in late summer, the UK newspaper The Telegraph reported.

The UK Ministry of Defense has not commented publicly. The Telegraph said Harry would fly an attack helicopter in operations rather than serve as a frontline junior officer with the Household Cavalry. The Guardian reported that Harry had during his previous stint in Afghanistan served as a forward air controller, directing jets bombing Taliban positions in Helmand province.

Last year, a documentary called "The Taking of Prince Harry" aired on the UK's Channel 4. It depicted a fictionalized story of what could happen if Harry were taken prisoner while serving his military service in Afghanistan.

It was met with criticism by many news outlets, including the Telegraph, which said it could be used as a "major propaganda tool by the Taliban" and called the decision to air it "deeply unpatriotic."

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