A New Generation of (Bearded) Gurkha?

A member of 10 Queen’s Own Gurkha Logistic Regiment challenges on Guard during the drill practice for the Ceremony of the Keys The Queen's Own Gurkha Logistic Regiment Kukri

A member of 10 Queen’s Own Gurkha Logistic Regiment challenges on Guard during the drill practice for the Ceremony of the Keys (MOD)

Lawmakers in Britain are looking to find a purpose for the diaspora of Afghan National Army commando and special forces currently studying at specialist schools in the UK, to include Sandhurst: form them into a unit of commandos in British uniform.

Of note, the all-volunteer and highly trained ANA Commando Corps – only about 20,000 soldiers out of an army of 160,000 — had a good reputation and served as the primary unit fighting the Taliban, raced from place to place like a fire brigade while the rest of the Afghan troops largely formed garrison units. Cut off from their air support and lift due to the rapid exfil of western contractors that kept the turbines turning, the Taliban was able to roll through the country in days while the Commandos assisted in the extraction from HKIA– many leaving on planes to points west from there during the endgame. 

An Afghan National Army soldier assigned to the Mobile Strike Force Kandak fires an RPG-7 rocket-propelled grenade launcher during a live-fire exercise

Now, left countryless in much the same way as the White Russians were in the 1920s, they have a “particular set of skills,” honed over a lifetime of use, as it would seem. 

Members of Parliament from Britain’s Conservative Party have now proposed “the creation of a new regiment of Afghans, similar to the brigade of Gurkhas, which comprises more than 4,000 Nepalese soldiers and was first recruited by the British 200 years ago,” according to the Daily Telegraph. It makes a certain sense as the MoD is short-staffed in just about every unit, even as it extensively relies on new enlistees recruited from impoverished Third World Commonwealth countries in the Caribbean and Africa to help flesh out the ranks. 

As further noted in Forbes:

But can Britain really turn Afghans into New Gurkhas? That’s a tricky question. Craig Lawrence, a former British Army general and Gurkha commander who has written several histories and novels about the Gurkhas, sees the optimum approach as having smaller Afghan-only units serve as part of larger British formations. “This might be as complete units of 400 to 600 personnel, or as sub-units of 80 to 120 personnel within other composite units,” he said. “This would enable them to fight together, as they have done for years, and would seem to be the best way of maximizing their lethality against the Taliban. Dispersing them across British infantry units at this early stage would dilute their capability, and would probably create integration issues.”

Besides the homeless commandos, there are some 465 skilled Western-trained military Afghan pilots and ground crews who escaped to Uzbekistan and are now exiled, with which the Brits could field a curious little airwing used to operating Hips, Hinds, and small fixed-wing COIN aircraft under primitive conditions. Could be a useful skill in places like West Africa or elsewhere in the Middle East. 

Will it happen? Well, if anyone would do it, it would be the British.

There would have to be a waiver for beards, of course. 

One comment

  • When this idea reached the ears of a good number here with connections and interests to defence the reaction was Foxtrot Oscar.

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