Gurkhas are ready for the danger zone
ONE hundred men are about to leave Folkestone for one of the most dangerous places in the world – Helmand Province in Afghanistan.
Foxtrot Company was formed last year to become the fourth rifle brigade in the Second Battalion Royal Gurkha Rifles. They will be moving to Helmand early in April to take up a roving role across the province.
Lance Corporal Surya Thapa said: “This time we’re going with a different set of tactics, we will be mostly involved with the ANPs (Afghanistan National Police) and mostly training them.”
ANP recruits undergo six months of training with Coalition forces to prepare them for their roles, which often involve heavy fighting against the Taliban insurgency. After that training, Foxtrot will accompany them on patrols and in their checkpoints and sangars – fortified positions.
Foxtrot Officer Commanding Major Chris Conroy said: “Royal Military Policemen and Gurkhas will be working with the local police. Some of those police trained under the Russians and some are police in name only. They are often local militia who sign up.
“They often have poor literacy and are poorly educated. They will be trained for six months then we go in and train them for three or four more months on location.
“They are right on the front line, such as it is, and it is a pretty dangerous job.”
Helmand is deep in Pashtun tribal country and is very near where the Taliban originated. Mullah Omar was born in the neighbouring Kandahar province and Helmand also shares a border with Pakistan.
“It is a fluid situation, as the Pashtuns don’t recognise the Pakistan border, so Taliban can melt back into the country when they need to – or call on reinforcements.
Asked whether he was nervous Sgt Lilaram Rai was unequivocal: “No, no that is what we train for, that’s our job and we know that.
“I’ve been before so I know the ground and I know the people, and the situation there. We expect to be fighting as well but it is changing all the time. It is what we are trained to do.”
Folkestone-based Gurkhas, who are going to Afghanistan, demonstrate their skills with the kukri
The Gurkhas will help train the Afghanistan police