It is an immense honour to be selected to be your Colonel Brigade of Gurkhas. I have had a strong connection with the Brigade for many years. Not only was I born in Nepal but I have also served nearly 30 years with 7GR and the RGR. My father was a previous Commanding Officer of 7GR and of course my brother is currently Commanding Officer of 1RGR. As a brigade we are one brotherhood of 6 cap badges and I very much look forward to working with you all and this includes the ex-Gurkha community, both in Nepal and UK, whose support is a key element of the Gurkha brand. I would like to pay tribute to the work done by my predecessor, Brigadier Ian Rigden, who has placed the Brigade on a sound footing with a clear path for the future.
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I join you in passing heartfelt congratulations to him on his promotion to Brigadier and wish him every success in his new assignment at the Development and Doctrine Concepts Centre at Shrivenham.
2012 has been a challenging year for the Brigade. We have continued to perform to the highest standards on operations in Afghanistan and I know that 1RGR with elements of QGS and QGE are currently deployed. I wish them all a safe and successful tour.
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My thanks go to the families who continue to support us through difficult times and even more so during operational deployments. Our professional excellence has won significant praise both from within our own Army and from other nations; this is the benchmark we must continue to maintain. 2012 has also been about restructuring the Army for the future. Known as Army 2020, we are extremely pleased and proud that the Brigade has a key role to play in the new Army structure. Of course this is also a period of uncertainty and while redundancy is not a pleasant prospect, I am pleased that we, as a Brigade, have done our best to support those selected sensibly and sensitively. In meeting the new structure all Brigade units will have to reduce and the new units will be smaller but with similar capability. As the future becomes clearer and the focus on Afghanistan reduces we will look to exploit opportunities for training and operations as they arise; history tells us that something unexpected will occur and we must be ready.
So what of the future? Our focus is to complete the restructuring of the Brigade to ensure we achieve manning balance in good order while ensuring that we look after our people. Redundancy Tranche 3 details were announced in January. This informs the fields that are being looked at for Redundancy but also highlights where opportunities for Transfer to elsewhere within the Army or the other two services exist. Work is still on-going to finish the Army 2020 work and we are in discussion over planned reductions to Mandalay Company at Brecon and Sittang Company at Sandhurst. In anticipation of a smaller Brigade we have also reduced our recruit intake to 126 from 175. In 2013 will see the two RGR Battalions Arms Plot Move and this will be carefully managed to ensure minimum impact on those selected for redundancy and our families.
As ever we will continue to be judged on how we perform and we must strive to be good everywhere. As the opportunity for operational deployment reduces we must continue to do all we can to ensure our reputation within the Army and across the nation remains as high as ever. Thank you for all your efforts and I know you will meet the future challenges with traditional Gurkha commitment and professionalism.