(UK Telegraph) Prince Harry is to be sent to Iraq next year as a troop commander and is likely to patrol the hazardous border with Iran, defence sources have disclosed. The third in line to the throne will join the Army’s 1st Mechanised Brigade, which will be deployed to Basra in May 2007. The prince has told colleagues that he is determined to go on operations and be treated as normally as possible – not kept out of the line of fire.

Mystech: In a show of solidarity, the Bush Twins have volunteered to engage in some shopping and partying in Baghdad’s Green Zone. No word on whether or not Dick Cheney would be willing to risk any of his clones in the war zone.

Defence chiefs, in consultation with the Prince of Wales’s office, will have to devise a plan that will not put his life or those of his troops in any greater danger. Substantial planning will go into the deployment and the media is likely to be asked for co-operation on security aspects of the mission. Bonus video comments by Matt Damon (?) at the end of the article.

As a troop commander in the Blues and Royals, the prince will have the rank of cornet, equivalent to a second lieutenant, in charge of 11 men and four light tanks.

The reconnaissance formation will patrol the long border with Iran where weapons, insurgents, drugs and money are smuggled.

The prince’s men will use night vision equipment to find terrorists trying to bring in sophisticated bomb making devices.

The desert patrols last up to 10 days with supplies being dropped from aircraft. The work is said to appeal to the soldiers as a mixture of Lawrence of Arabia and Prince ‘is a cracking officer’ the early SAS long-range desert patrols of the Second World War.

Although the mission will be hazardous, the prince is keen that his royal position will not disqualify him.

“There’s no way I’m going to put myself through Sandhurst and then sit on my arse back home while my boys are out fighting for their country,” he has said.

Instructors at Sandhurst have been impressed by Prince Harry’s approach. “He is going to be a real asset to the Army,” a senior officer said. “It would be a real shame if the Palace or MoD did not allow him to go on operations because he is a cracking officer.”