Gurkha logisticians are returning to Colchester as the British Army’s global response force expands in size and capabilities as part of the Army’s Future Soldier vision.
15 Air Assault Support Squadron (Air Asslt Sp Sqn) Queen’s Own Gurkha Logistic Regiment (QOGLR) was formally welcomed into 16 Air Assault Brigade Combat Team at a parade at Merville Barracks on Wednesday 1st of February 2023. The squadron has joined 13 Air Assault Support Regiment (13 AASR) Royal Logistic Corps (RLC) as the Brigade Combat Team (BCT) grows in its role as the Army’s global response force.
The parade was set to music by The Band and Bugles of The Rifles and inspected by Brigadier Patch Reehal, Colonel of QOGLR.
Major Blair Cowan, Officer Commanding 15 Air Assault Support Squadron QOGLR, said: “It is an exciting and challenging time for the Squadron, and the parade has been a fantastic occasion to celebrate that. We are professional military logisticians and our fundamental work to ensure that troops have the necessary supplies remains the same, but we are adapting to suit the unique needs and specialities of our new role.”
13 AASR RLC is responsible for logistics and equipment support to 16 Air Assault BCT, which is trained and equipped to deploy by parachute, helicopter, and air landing. It is held at very high readiness to respond to international crises.
Corporal Raj Gurung, who organises the squadron’s training, said: “Our role demands specialist skills, so we have been going through a period of individual training. Soldiers are doing courses to run helicopter landing sites, move vehicles and equipment by helicopter as underslung loads, and manage drop zones for parachuting supplies.”
Troops and their families are moving from their current base with 10 QOGLR at Abingdon to Colchester, where they will join the city’s existing Nepali community. Many of the ex-Gurkhas who have settled in Colchester put their roots down while 10 QOGLR was based in the city from 2001 to 2004.
For Captain Rajkumar Gurung, the move is a return to where his Army career started. “My first posting as a private soldier was in Colchester 22 years ago,” he said. “The barracks were very different then, but I have good memories of my time in Colchester and I am very proud to return as an Officer Commanding a troop of Gurkhas.”
The Future Soldier vision sets out to create a more agile, integrated, lethal and expeditionary Army, with a reinforced 16 Air Assault BCT a key element.
A Gurkha engineer squadron has been added to 23 Parachute Engineer Squadron and an extra gun battery is joining 7th Parachute Regiment Royal Horse Artillery to create the BCT’s third battlegroup, built around its existing The Royal Gurkha Rifles battalion (currently the Second Battalion). 1st Battalion The Royal Irish Regiment has also joined the BCT to provide light reconnaissance strike infantry.