On the 23rd September Headquarters Brigade of Gurkhas, located at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, organised the annual Brigade of Gurkhas Briefing Day. This event is an opportunity to hear business updates from across the four pillars of the Brigade. The four pillars include the Headquarters Brigade of Gurkhas, Gurkha Brigade Association, Gurkha Museum and Gurkha Welfare Trust. The event also delivered briefs on current issues that influence the current Brigade of Gurkhas.
The briefing day was opened with business updates from Colonel Brigade of Gurkhas, who discussed elements and changes to unit growth across the Brigade and other current business issues. This was followed by an update on the Gurkha Museum located in Winchester by the Director of the Museum. The CEO of the Gurkha Welfare Trust (GWT) briefed on how the GWT are changing their business model to reflect the changing demographic of those they support in Nepal, their support to supplying water supplies, and how they have assisted in Nepal with COVID-19 issues across Nepal. Before lunch the Chairman of the Gurkha Brigade Association spoke about the importance and the strengths of the Association. He explained how the Association is able in some cases to work outside of the military policy and restrictions in assisting with influencing decision making at Government.
After lunch General Sir Peter Duffell KCB CBE MC spoke about his time as a Gurkha Officer and his journey to working at the MOD and supporting the cabinet office. He talked about the Gurkhas he has worked with as a young Officer and his time on operations, detailing stories of extraordinary military actions and bravery of Gurkhas around him. He talked about the changes he has seen with how Gurkhas in the British Army are employed, and the fact MOD almost switched off the requirement for Gurkhas when Hong Kong was going through the handover process, when at the time Gurkhas were serving. He encouraged the Brigade to not rest on our laurels and push forward and continue to offer value to the British Army.
This was followed by the Deputy Colonel Commandant, Brigadier Mark Lancaster TD VR PC who spoke about the interface between politics and the military. The Brigadier has been a member of the House of Commons and was for a time the Armed Forces Minister and is now a member of the House of Lords. He talked about the role of a Parliamentary elected Minister in the House of Commons. He informed those present on how business is done in parliament and how as a minister has to operate on a daily basis.
The briefing day was concluded by the Colonel Commandant, Lieutenant General Richard Wardlaw OBE, BEng MInstRE. The General spoke about the value the Brigade of Gurkhas brings to the Army. He highlighhed the major tasks in supporting the UK civilian community during COVID-19, including assisting in the rapid building of the COVID-19 hospitals and setting up COVID-19 testing centres. Set up and delivery of COVID-19 testing for international lorry drivers and now as we speak Gurkhas from The First Battalion, The Royal Gurkha Rifles deployed to Kosovo to assist in the patriation of people from Afghanistan to other countries as part of the fall out from recent events in Afghanistan. He then highlighted the strength of the Brigade of Gurkhas, recruitment success and the ability of the Gurkhas to deliver on operations time and time again. But the Brigade must continue to move forward, maintain capabilities and develop as the Army structure, objectives and tasks changes as part of the Integrated Review.