Gurkhas

Gurkha Company: Army Recruits Learn Art Of Dawn Attack

We joined the unit during urban warfare training at Catterick Garrison.

Recruits in the British Army's Gurkha Company have been honing their urban warfare skills with a dawn attack.

The unit has been relatively unaffected by the coronavirus pandemic, continuing its training programme while other areas of the military were unable to do so.

The 432-strong Gurkha Company is the largest intake from Nepal since 1985, having arrived to Catterick Garrison in February to begin their new lives in the UK.

Young men in the unit, many of whom are still teenagers, have been working hard to put into practice the theory they have learned over recent Zoom video meetings.

As one of the most important elements in their training to become future Gurkhas, they have been tested on urban warfare skills, including how to gain entry to buildings, carrying out room clearances and handling booby traps.

"The boys learn how to fight in the urban area because the future of the war will be fought in the urban area, not in the jungle or in the training area," Gurkha Company Instructor, Warrant Officer 2 Birendra Kambang told Forces News.

"This kind of building, this kind of built-up area, the Gurkhas may not have seen before, and it is quite difficult to get used to the structure of the building, the inside of the room.

"The actual drill has to be very fast and furious, and then it is quite physically tough as well.

"I was talking to the Wing Commander yesterday, and what he was saying is he is quite happy to take these boys and go to the war."

Gurkha Company wearing goggles and holding weapon during dawn attack training 310720 CREDIT BFBS
The Gurkha recruits have been training to operate in an urban environment during a mock dawn raid.

Major Rajesh Gurung, Officer Commanding Gurkha Company said: "I’m probably one of the proudest officers commanding in the entire British Army right now.

"Out of 432 Gurkha recruits, I’ve managed to keep them safe and none have been infected so far.

"We had to make some adjustments to how we deliver the training – for example, like first aid where two individuals have to come close together, we use dummies, for example, instead of real persons.

"Instead of putting one poncho, and sleep two together, we put two ponchos side-by-side so there are some gaps between two individuals in the field."

The recruits have proven to be quick learners, but they were not the only ones being trained.

Two British platoons comprising of soldiers unable to return home moved into Gurkha Company during lockdown and continued their training with them.

Gurkha Company instructors were also conscious of concerns about coronavirus from families back in Nepal.

As one of the most important elements in their training to become future Gurkhas, they have been tested on urban warfare skills – things like gaining entry to buildings, room clearances, booby traps.

“Yeah, I knew the boys would be worried, so as the parents in Nepal as well, hence I actually gave them a direct order to call their parents in Nepal.

"Rather than me calling them or writing letters and giving them assurance, it would be in our culture appropriate for actually the soldiers to call their families in Nepal so that they can hear their voice and be assured."

In their sections, the boys are in household bubbles, enabling them to train in close proximity.

"Our safety measures in the Barracks are on point," Training Rifleman Prashis Limbu said.

We maintain our social distance, two-metre gap all the time, even in our rooms.

"Even when we go out to a cookhouse, we have four chairs on the table but we sit in each corner so that the two-metre distance is maintained," he continued.

Elsewhere, however, COVID-19 has taken its toll.

In Nepal, this year’s registration and regional British Army selection were cancelled.

One idea is to invite unsuccessful candidates back from last year, allowing them to still select the 340 recruits they need for 2021.