On 10th March Rt Hon Mark Lancaster TD VR MP, Minister of State for the Armed Forces, announced an expansion to the Brigade of Gurkhas which will see it provide an additional Queen’s Gurkha Engineer Squadron, two additional Queen’s Gurkha Signals Squadrons and additional support to the Allied Rapid Reaction Corps Support Battalion and the Band of the Brigade of Gurkhas.
He also confirmed the reformation of 3rd Battalion The Royal Gurkha Rifles to become the British Army’s fifth Specialised Infantry Battalion (SpIB).
The 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR15) set out the Army’s plans to develop up to five specialised infantry battalions. Specialised Infantry Battalions consist of about 270 personnel, roughly half the size of an ordinary infantry battalion.
They are made up of Non-Commissioned Officers/Senior Non-Commissioned Officers and officers as their role is to train, advise, assist and mentor designated partner nation, something that private soldiers would not be experienced enough to do.
They will operate overseas in specified regions on a long-term basis, to enable the formation of strong relationships and to gain in-depth knowledge of their areas of responsibility including the terrain, culture and language.
The expansion in the Brigade will allow Gurkhas to access more career opportunities, including promotion and increased chances to serve a full 24-year Army career within the Brigade of Gurkhas. To assist with initial requirements, there will be an increase in Gurkha recruiting from 270 in 2018 to 432 personnel per year for the next few years.