Saturday 28 January 2012

Visiting 1RGR (Royal Gurkha Rifles)

Its been a hectic few weeks so posts have been thin on the ground. As part of my postgrad masters we spent a day at Shorncliffe Camp in Folkestone, Kent meeting the officers and men of 1RGR (Royal Gurkha Rifles). It was a great day and we got so speak to a lot of Nepali soldiers as well as British officers about their experiences in Afghanistan in Herrick 7 and 12. In my MA we mainly study terrorism and counterterrorism, as well as insurgency and counterinsurgency, so it was really insightful to hear the opinions of people who actually fought on the frontline and were not behind a desk pushing paper or reading theory.

The overwhelming impression I received - apart from the friendliness of the Nepalis - was their dislike for counterinsurgency operations. This wasn't because they intrinsically disliked helping the Afghanis, far from it, but that ultimately they were soldiers. This might sound like an obvious point but in a modern world where politicians and generals are very keen to impress to the public that the Army is about humanitarianism and reconstruction it was nice to hear what the guys at the front thought. Well Gurkhas anyway. They had much preferred the earlier stages of the conflict, when it was more conventional and kinetic, rather than the difficulties of counterinsurgency where identifying your opponent, not eliminating him, is the most difficult challenge. Also they commented on how the political aspects of the conflict, such as the ineptness and corruptness of the ANA and ANP and their self-destructive rivalries, made constructive cooperation almost impossible.

Asides from some friendly banter and discussion they also laid on some battle drill demonstrations for us and did a great segment on weaponry and equipment where we were allowed to put our paws all over their high-tech goodies. As a civilian you never really get your hands on an IR scope, laser-rangefinding binoculars or a 40mm automatic grenade launcher. Suffice to say, it was good fun. Here are some pictures I took on the trip, didn't get many as I was too busy enjoying myself!

Also, I met Dip Prasad Pun, who if you haven't heard about, you really should take a look!

These first three are all trophy weapons taken in the 20th century.

A beautiful Kukri

Me with an L115A3, terrible picture, but then, I didn't take it :P

0.50 cal - a complete beast in the flesh!

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