Gurkhas are ready for the dan­ger zone

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Opinion - by Chris Denham cden­ham@thek­m­group.co.uk

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.”

Pic­tures Dave Downey PD1556459

Folke­stone-based Gurkhas, who are go­ing to Afghanistan, demon­strate their skills with the kukri

PD1556456

The Gurkhas will help train the Afghanistan po­lice

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