Royal Engagement: Prince Harry in the U.S. for British Military Training

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Dylan Martinez / Reuters

It’s not the first Royal visit to the U.S. this year, but this one seems a bit more “official.”

Prince Harry arrived in the United States on Friday for a two-month military helicopter training course, Buckingham Palace announced.

The prince, known as “Captain Wales” among fellow soldiers, will start his training at the Naval Air Facility in El Centro, California, where he will fly Apache helicopters in the desert near the Mexican border. The facility hosts allied troops throughout the year because its hot, dusty conditions replicate Afghanistan’s harsh environment and the clear weather allows for constant flying.

Harry is among 20 students in the British Army participating in the training that will culminate at an Air Force station in Gila Bend, Ariz., where they’ll fire missiles, rockets and cannons from the Apache helicopters.

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“He will be treated like any other British pilot,” said Capt. Devon Jones, the U.S. commanding officer at the facility. The course is the final phase of a 16-month training British Army pilots undergo to prepare for deployment.

British Army Lt. Col. Peter Bullen said those who succeed still have a few final steps to complete in Great Britain before they are ready to be sent into combat.

The prince and the other students will not be restricted from going off the bases during their free time, except like U.S. troops, they are barred from crossing the border into Mexico, Bullen said. The two-month stint is known to have a break midway for soldiers to let their hair down in Las Vegas. No doubt this reprieve will please the partyboy prince.

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