COVID-19 has stopped much of the world in its tracks. As businesses close, people isolate and our world adapts to the realities of the pandemic, The First Battalion, The Royal Gurkha Rifles (1 RGR) role as the Air Manoeuvre Battle Group (AMBG) remains extant.
We are still ready to deploy anywhere in the world at very high readiness for a full spectrum of tasks.
Unlike many individuals and team across the British Army, most of us are unable to work from home and therefore we have done much to change the way we live and train. 1 RGR has implemented a number of pragmatic policies in accordance with the Government’s direction. Whilst this changes the way we operate, I think that we are doing our best to adapt and overcome.
As a Rifleman who lives on camp, we are all being very careful to abide by the Battalion’s policies. This means that in the cookhouse for example, we each sit on a single seat table at a 2m gap. We also do almost all of our physical activity on our own or at a 2m distance at the very minimum. The way we learn has changed as well. Whilst we would usually receive a lesson in the company conference room, we are now doing all briefs and lessons over a video conferencing application called Zoom. This has been a really good way for us to be kept in regular contact with our Section Commander and other senior people from the company. Each day, we receive lessons from our gurujiharu on a whole range of interesting topics.
Whilst some people might find the reduced physical contact a worthless or frustrating time, us Riflemen are finding it both productive and fruitful. After a very busy year of almost constant exercise, we are having time to reflect and work on new skills. My fellow Riflemen and I are enrolling on courses online and delivered by organisations such as the Open University. We’re finding this time invaluable to develop ourselves both personally and professionally; it will make us better at our job once this is over.
It is also a great time to work on our physical resilience. We have regular physical training sessions hosted by our physical training instructor (PTI) guruji over the Zoom application. We are each in our own rooms and follow our PTI guruji over the video conference. There are also lots of competitions throughout the Battalion and everyone is getting excited about the ‘Gurkha Warrior’ competition where there is a new physical challenge set each week by the Commanding OfficerSaheb for us to do on our own. We are also doing other competitions wheremy fellow Riflemen and I deliver presentations over Zoom to the rest of our platoon. It’s been great for us to improve our English speaking skills.
Overall, we have done our best to respond to the restrictions from COVID 19 with a positive attitude. Whilst there are people around the UK, particularly health care workers, doing such a great job on keeping the population safe, we must play our part and follow the Government guidelines rigidly. But we also must remain ready to do our core job and we are all confident that we retain that ability.
By Rifleman Sagar Tamang, The First Battalion, The Royal Gurkha Rifles