Official Association of Britain’s Brigade of Gurkhas

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Exercise KHUKURI DRAGON 18

Exercise KHUKURI DRAGON 2018 was a Type 2 Squadron led multi-activity Adventure Training package that was held in Bavaria, Germany.  The exercise involved a total of 45 personnel from 248 Gurkha Signal Squadron.

Organizing such a package involves a great amount of background planning, this task fell to Corporal Bhesh who, along with his small team, planned and executed the package on a short notice.  A warm and sunny afternoon on the 22nd July 2018 saw us deploy to Bavaria to begin the package.  After an extensive 24hr period of travel, we finally arrived at the Drei Muhlen Lodge in Wertach, Germany.

A wide range of activities awaited us, including white water rafting, a waterpark visit, via-ferrata, rock-climbing, mountain biking, hill-walking, distributed training (a rock-climbing foundation course). Adventure training is designed to build a fear factor and put soldiers out of their comfort zones whilst developing the basic core skills and values of the Army.  

Although we were having lots of fun, everything we were doing was contributing to us being better soldiers as the skills that we were learning can transfer into our day to day job.

This was an outstanding week of exhilarating and heart-racing activities, we were certainly pushed and challenged, yet the relaxed atmosphere and glorious weather certainly meant that this was an extremely fun experience.  To extend our German knowledge and culture, we were fortunate to attend a cultural program in the heart of Wertach.  

Likewise, as our stay was just a 30mins drive away from the renowned Neuschwanstein Castle, better known as the Disney Castle, we had the opportunity to visit and learn the history of this historic building.  Similarly, we had a full day reserved for a visit to the beautiful city of Munich and the home of one of the European giants of football, FC Bayern Munich, the Allianz Arena.

To put the icing to the cake, we were in for the treat of a delightful barbecue in the scorching sunshine followed by a quiz night led by Lance Corporals’ Gaurav and Dhabindra before an outstanding performance from our very own ‘Go Crazy Band’ led by Signaller Ashes, who played splendid music to entertain a crowd of nearly 50 personnel.  

 

 

                                                                                               

 

Nepalese MP Ms Nabina Lama visited elements of the Brigade of Gurkhas on Monday 26th November 2018.  She is in the UK as part of the International Leaders Programme (ILP) run by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Ms Lama requested that a day of visits to serving and retired members of the Brigade was arranged to give her the chance to meet and talk to a variety of people from the Nepalese communities who are resident in the UK. 

Ms Lama’s day began at the Headquarters Brigade of Gurkhas where she was welcomed in traditional style with a khada by the Chief of Staff, Major Shane Burton, Gurkha Brigade Association Regimental Secretary, Major (Retired) Manikumar Rai MBE, and SO2 Personnel Policy, Major Dammar Shahi.  She was given a tour of the Headquarters before receiving a brief on the Brigade, its current construct and lay down and some of the recent activities of the units. 

Following this the party moved to 10 Queen’s Own Gurkha Logistic Regiment in Aldershot where they were greeted by the Gurkha Major, Major Chakra Khatri and a Regimental Piper before Ms Lama was shown the temple and had a chance to talk to both Punditji and a group of young soldiers about their lives in the UK and the support offered by the MoD and the Brigade to meet their needs.  Lunch then followed with the opportunity to hold discussions with senior Gurkha Officers and gain their perspectives. 

The final stop of the day was the Gurkha Welfare Advice Centre in Aldershot where Captain (Retired) Mahendra Limbu and his team briefed Ms Lama on the services and help offered by this joint funded Ministry of Defence/Gurkha Welfare Trust enterprise specifically for Gurkha veterans and their families and she had the opportunity to also speak to a group of pensioners about their lives since settling in the UK.

 

 

A (Delhi) Company, 1 Royal Gurkha Rifles recently deployed on Exercise FALCON AMARANTE, South France.

This was part of the 3rd Battalion The Parachute Regiment’s Battlegroup to conduct a joint training as part of Airborne Combined Joint Expeditionary Force (ACJEF) commanded by French 2* General. Across two demanding weeks in south west France, the Exercise tested the Airborne Combined Joint Expeditionary Force (A-CJEF) – a partnership between 16 Air Assault Brigade and 11e Brigade Parachutiste. The two brigades provide the airborne rapid reaction forces for their respective armies, and the A-CJEF has been trained and ready since 2013 to deploy on short-notice operations ranging from war fighting to disaster relief.

Exercise Falcon Amarante is the A-CJEF’s annual test exercise, taking place this year under 11e BP’s command. Some 650 British soldiers and 170 vehicles of the 3 PARA Battlegroup – built around the airborne infantry of 3rd Battalion, The Parachute Regiment, bolstered by artillery, engineers, medics, signallers and logisticians – are taking part.

British troops paired with the 3e Regiment de Parachutistes d’Infanterie de Marine as the A-CJEF, with US paratroopers from the 173rd Airborne Brigade working alongside it. After mission planning and reconnaissance, the exercises started on 14th November with some 600 British, French and US paratroopers jumping onto the Caylus training area near Toulouse. From there, a series of simulated missions tested the skills and capabilities of the 2,000-strong force.

The first few days of final exercise comprised of conducting offensive, defensive and Rapid Air Landing operations which included a number of challenges including response to CBRN threat. The exercise was concluded with A company conducting an airborne operation into occupied villages of Saizet in south France. The exercise which unfolded various offensive actions, saw A Company conducting a joint training (including introductions to French weapons, vehicles and parachutes) before being deployed on a testing final exercise.

Three non-commissioned Officers from 2 Royal Gurkha Rifles (RGR) have represented the Infantry at the Inter Corp Squash Championship held at Aldershot during  November 2018. 

Corporal Yogendra Dewan played for the A Team and won the Division Two Championship. Corporal Hari Ghimire and Lance Corporal Gopal Rai, both played for B Team and were runners-up at Division Three Championship. All three players from 2 RGR played an important role in their teams to earn promotion for the Infantry A and B Teams to Division One and Two respectively.

Chairman Infantry Squash, Lieutenant Colonel K Philip, said that all three players from 2 RGR played outstandingly despite this being their first attempt at this level. He said that Corporal Yogendra’s performance was particularly noteworthy. This was the fifth Division Two win for the Infantry since 1968.

Although squash is a relatively new sport in 2 RGR, the sport is slowly gaining momentum in the Battalion. This however is not the first success for the 2 RGR Squash Team. 2 RGR have been runners-up at the Inter Unit Squash Championship back to back in 2017 and 2018. This is particularly noteworthy since they started the sport only five years ago.

Corporal Hari said, “The next challenge for the 2 RGR team is to win the Unit Championship in 2019”. The passion of these players and their current form have certainly made 2 RGR favourites at next year’s Inter Unit Squash Championship.

Dear all Gurkha Brigade Association friends, please find below the link to all online version of Parbate.

This is October-November’s edition and it covers some events including:

  • The Band of the Brigade of Gurkhas at the Belfast International Tattoo
  • Open Chess Competition 2018
  • Gurkhas at the United Kingdom Asian Football Championships 2018 in Glasgow
  • Time to celebrate as the Queen’s Gurkha Engineers turn 70
  • Expedition SamjhanaRemembering the Nuptse Disaster of 1975

The Brigade of Gurkhas Media Team.

A new squadron of Gurkha soldiers has been welcomed to MOD Stafford with a Regimental Parade by 16th Signal Regiment.

247 Gurkha Signal Squadron will be the second squadron of Queen’s Gurkha Signals’ (QG SIGNALS) soldiers to be based at Beacon Barracks.  The other QG SIGNALS squadron is 248 Gurkha Signal Squadron which is part of 22nd Signal Regiment.

The reformation of 247 Gurkha Signal Squadron sees the QG SIGNALS increase from three to four squadrons.

The vast majority of the new squadron are Gurkha soldiers, drawn from existing squadrons, as well as being bolstered by an increase in Gurkha recruitment from Nepal.

Lieutenant Colonel Ben Davenport, Commanding Officer 16th Signal Regiment, said the reformation of the fourth QG SIGNALS Squadron will continue the tradition of Royal Corps of Signals soldiers serving alongside their Gurkha compatriots: “When I joined the Army back in 99, there was only one QG SIGNALS Squadron. To establish the fourth, with a fifth being established next year, is fantastic. It brings an extra addition to our family and also means that we have a bit of healthy competition between the British and Gurkha soldiers.”

247 Gurkha Signal Squadron can trace its history back to ‘King Troop’ which formed in October 1951 to take part in the Malayan Emergency.

It last existed in Hong Kong in June 1994 when it and other squadrons were amalgamated into the Hong Kong Gurkha Signal Squadron, prior to the return of Hong Kong from the UK to China in 1997. 

A fifth squadron, 249 Gurkha Signal Squadron, will form in Bulford in Summer 2019.

While the main body of the Band of the Brigade of Gurkhas were preparing for various Defence Engagement events in New Delhi, India, 13 members of the Band, including our Hill Boys Band’, led by Assistant Director of Music, Captain Basudev Gurung, were on their way to Kabul, Afghanistan for support to Operation TORAL.

The aim of the tour was to provide musical entertainment to various NATO bases and also for the Remembrance parade on the11th November at Hamid Karzai International Airport.

After an early morning flight from Brize Norton, we landed at Minad Airport, Dubai where we transited for five hours, from there we flew to Hamid Karzai International Airport (HKIA), Kabul.

The 5th November we landed at HKIA and after sorting out our luggage, beds and tents, we had to be ready for a mandatory safety brief which included immediate action drills in case of any IDFs (Indirect Fire) or any kind of attacks.

HKIA is the largest NATO base in Kabul where soldiers from more than 45 countries are located including 1 Royal Gurkhas Rifles (RGR) who recently took over from The Welsh Guards. It is mandatory for all soldiers to carry a personal weapon (pistol and a rifle) whilst in theatre. We were issued with body armour plates and Glock 17 pistols with 30 rounds. Three members of 1 RGR conducted a pistol lesson for us and everyone passed the Weapon Handling Test.

In the evening we collected our instruments and rehearsed for a good few hours to prepare ourselves for the whole tour.

On the 6th November our first concert took place at the Tactical Aviation Detachment. Then on the 7th November we took a Chinock Helicopter to Qargha Camp, a NATO military installation maintained by the British and Australian Army. We were mesmerised by the spectacular view of Kabul city from the air. After landing we were escorted to the camp as we were dropped outside the perimeter fence. Our concert was to take took place after dinner in the cook house so we quickly set-up, did a sound check and relaxed until dinner. Then we started our performance giving our best to entertain the troops.  

The next morning we loaded our equipment in a helicopter and flew to the Headquarters Resolute Support. The audience in this location came from many different Nations and they were unfamiliar with our music and instruments. Afterwards many wanted photographs with us.

Our next stop was the New Kabul Compound where members of 1 RGR were already stationed and were celebrating ’Tihar’ which is one of our biggest festivals.

On Remembrance day we returned to HKIA. We were dressed in our ceremonial uniforms, and alongside the troops of various nations were waiting for Lieutenant General Cripwell, Deputy Commander of NATO Resolute Support Mission. After all the VIPs had arrived, the parade began with the hymn Guide Me O thou Great Redeemer.

After a few hymns and speech by Padre A Thompson, the Last Post was played by Corporal Khushiman Gurung followed by two minute silence and reveille at the Eleventh hour. Lieutenant General Cripwell laid a wreath on behalf of all NATO Forces and followed by other respective senior members of staff from the different nations.

On the same day, the Hill Boys gave their final performance of the tour during the lunch hour in the cook house.

On 12th November 2018 we started our return to the UK via Akrotiri, Cyprus and finally on to Brize Norton. Although, we were there for a short period, it was definitely a good experienced and we achieved what we went for.

 

Career opportunities in Brigade of Gurkhas (BG) units have never been better.  The BG is growing; we are expanding our current footprint and offering more capability to the Army – but what does this mean for the soldiers of the BG?

  • The Brigade of Gurkhas is growing by 32%
  • More posting opportunities
  • Increase in the number of VEng Full awards
  • Enhanced promotion opportunities

Growth Across the BG We are growing by 838 posts. In the post redundancy era, the BG was reduced to 2585 posts – between 2016 and 2021 this will increase to 3423; a 32% increase in the size of the Brigade. An element of this growth provides additional deployable capability to the Army:

  • Two QOGLR Squadrons (315 posts in 1 Supply Sqn and 28 Fuel and GT Sqn)
  • Two QG Signals Squadrons (84 posts in 247 Sqn and 249 Sqn)
  • 68 posts to UK based RGR Battalion
  • 13 posts to the Band of the Brigade of Gurkhas. 

A further 356 posts are based outside Gurkha units and provide new opportunities for Gurkha personnel not previously available. These posts are located across the UK, predominately within existing Gurkha footprint areas (posts in the ARRC Support Battalion, Tavaleto Company Warminster, Mandalay Wing Brecon and ITC Support Battalion Catterick), but also include a number of specialist posts in establishments across the UK (UOTC Instructors, RMAS Sandhurst, RSME, MTMC, DSL and Brunei Garrison). Most of the specialist posts are Corporal and above; this means career opportunities grow.

VEng Opportunities. The Versatile Engagement (VEng) was adopted by the Army in 2008 and was designed with British Servicepersons (who serve on average only 6.9 years) in mind. There are two main contract types under VEng, a short contract which takes personnel up to 12 years of service and a full contract up to 24 years. All personnel joining the Army since 2008 are enlisted on a VEng (Short) contract and will be boarded for a VEng (Full) contract at some point in their career. As the majority of British Service persons leave Service prior to the 12 year point the majority of UKP personnel who wish to convert to a VEng (Full) contract have that opportunity. However, the overall percentage of personnel converting is comparably low – around 40%. Gurkha manning behaviours are different. Almost all Gurkha personnel join the Army and wish to serve a full career and seek promotion opportunities throughout. Structurally this is difficult; rank pyramids narrow as we progress through the ranks and without the outflow levels of British units the original BG figures for VEng(F) were previously as low as 18% of each intake.

The growth of the BG has significantly changed this for the better.  We now have the structures to offer a pan BG sustainable VEng(F) conversion rate of around 55% – this is significantly bigger than the overall VEng(F) conversion rate for British units

 

Promotion Opportunities. The growth of the BG also brings significant enhancement to promotion opportunities. The rank rich nature of the growth means that there is a significant increase in the sustainable promotion profile of all BG units. In many areas, opportunities for promotion in the BG exceed the promotion rates in British units; there has never been a better time to be serving in the BG.

In the short term the amount of growth in the BG will result in even greater promotion opportunities. This means that personnel currently serving will have more opportunities for promotion within the BG than anywhere else in the Army.

The Future

The BG are continuing to look for areas where we can grow. The Army are considering further options for the BG to assume more liability. There is the realistic prospect of forming more QGE Squadron, more growth in the ARRC Support Battalion and converting UKP posts to GURTAM across the Army. This will serve to further increase the opportunities available to all Gurkha soldiers; more VEng(F), more promotion, and more varied career posting opportunities

The Versatile Engagement (VEng) was introduced as a new type of engagement on 1st January 2008. VEng consists of three stages:

  • Short (a career of 12 years),
  • Full (a career of 24 years) and
  • Long (a career of 30 years) 

Since 2008 all new recruits have entered Service on a VEng (Short) engagement.  In 2016 and 2017 a total of 115 and 241 BG personnel in Intake 2008 – 2010 were offered VEng(F) respectively.   

In boarding years 2016, 2017 & 2018 a total of 502 BG personnel across Intakes 2008 – 2011 have been selected for a VEng(F) conversion.    

Results of the VEng(S) to VEng(F) Conditional Board for Intake 2009, 2010 and 2011 have been announced last month.  Across the BG in 2018, 146 (this includes both automatic and conditional VEng(F) conversion offers) personnel have been offered conversion to VEng(F).  

For those soldiers who have successfully converted to VEng(F), this will be welcome news who now have the opportunity for a full 24 year career in the BG.  Personnel in Intake 2011 who have not received an offer for conversion to VEng(F) will have the opportunity to be boarded again in 2019.

There has been significant success at improving career prospects (both VEng(F) opportunities and promotion opportunities) across all Units within the Brigade. The results of this conversion board are good news for all in the BG. The BG has been working closely with DM(A) in a bid to make significant enhancements to Gurkha careers and employment prospects. 

Much of the success in increasing the VEng(F) conversion rate is the result of c.642 new posts for Gurkha soldiers and particularly the increase in Junior Non-Commissioned Officer and Senior Non-Commissioned Officer positions. Many of these are still coming on line and will continue to benefit future intakes for VEng(F) conversion purposes and promotion rates.  

This year was the 50th Anniversary of the Kadoorie Agricultural Aid Association British Gurkhas Nepal (KAAA BGN), marking 50 years of philanthropic work in Nepal for Gurkhas and Nepali people by the Kadoorie family. 

After many months of planning our Director, Colonel (Col) (Retired) Andrew Mills OBE, welcomed Sir Michael Kadoorie.  With Sir Michael were his wife Lady Betty Kadoorie, and children Natalie and her husband Diego, Bettina and her partner Shane, and Philip.  Accompanying them were the Director of the Kadoorie Charitable Foundation, Col (Retired) Christopher Lavender MVO and Mrs Griselda Lavender. 

On the first day, after being brought up to date on KAAA activities in Nepal by Col Andrew, the family visited British Gurkhas Nepal (BGN) where Col Ian Logan (DA/Commander BGN) and his team hosted them and gave overview of their roles and work. In the afternoon, the group played cricket with the Cricket Association for the Blind (CAB), an organisation supported by the family.

From the second day, the family visited KAAA projects.  At Teka, Ghat and Thadakoshi villages in Solukhumbu, they inaugurated our Drinking Water (one house one tap) scheme costing US$ 117,000 and serving 351 villagers, and at Hunggung, Sankhuwasabha our 100kw Micro-Hydro project which cost US$ 520,000 and serves 240 households (about 1,500 people).  In the evening, the family hosted Lieutenant General (Lt Gen) Nick Pope CBE, Deputy Chief of the General Staff and Chairman Gurkha Welfare Trust, Col James Robinson, Colonel Brigade of Gurkhas and Col Ian Logan to a dinner at which Sir Michael presented Lt Gen Pope with the KAAA 50th anniversary photobook. 

On day three they visited projects in Central Nepal, starting with our Langtang-Kyanzin 100 KW Micro-Hydro project in Kyanzin, Rasuwa which at 3,800m is our highest project to date with the intake being fed by a glacial lake at 4,100m.  The project cost US$ 534,000 and serves 121 households in Langtang and Kyanzin.  From here, the family dropped in on Linjho village, North Dhading to view our ongoing Earthquake Reconstruction Programme and Apple Farm Project. 

Their next stop was our Electricity Line Extension project at Sirdibas Uhiya where the line extension from the 150kw Sirdibas-Philim Mini-Hydro project  in North Gorkha which cost US$ 370,000 has benefitted a further 470 households to take the total number of beneficiaries to over 5,000 villagers.  On Thursday 25th October the family visited our 135kw Mini-Hydro project at Lukumkhola, Bhume Rural Municipality, Rukum which cost US$ 867,000 and serves 3,000 people from 590 households in 3 villages. 

Then they went on to visit Jhinu, Ghandruk to inaugurate our longest trail bridge to date, the 287m Samrong Khola bridge which was completed at a cost of US$ 311,000 for the benefit of 5,000 locals and up to 30,000 trekkers a year.  Finally, they paid their respects at the Sir Horace Chautara in Chhomrong built in memory of Sir Michael’s uncle who with Lord Lawrence, Sir Michael’s father, established the KAAA in Hong Kong in 1951.

The evening of 25th October the family attended a dinner party at British Gurkhas Pokhara with all the staff of KAAA and our wives, and Mr Richard Morris Her Majesty’s Ambassador to Nepal, Lt Gen Pope and other distinguished guests. Sir Michael gave a stirring speech after which Natalie, Bettina and Philip also spontaneously stood up and reiterated their father’s message, which was that Kadoorie aid to Nepal would continue into the foreseeable future. 

The next day, Sir Michael and Lady Kadoorie called on the President, The Right Honourable Bidhya Devi Bhandari accompanied by the British Ambassador and Director KAAA.  Meanwhile, Natalie, Diego, Bettina, Shane and Philip embarked on a short trek in Baglung accompanied by Col and Mrs Lavender and Captain (Retired) Dutman from KAAA. 

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