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Hohum
Hohum
November 24, 2014 5:44 pm

Frankly the Army should take 100% of any cuts required from SDSR15, just pick which cap badges you want to drop.

Maroon (fifty) 5
Maroon (fifty) 5
November 24, 2014 5:47 pm

How many times do we have to crap on the ever-loyal Gurkhas, before they see the light and finally tell us to fuck off? I’m calling Joanna..

Phil
November 24, 2014 5:55 pm

Bin them. Not half as good as people think. Bin them without an SDSR 2015.

Not a Boffin
Not a Boffin
November 24, 2014 6:17 pm

Irrespective of their courage, reputation etc, the only reason the RGR have survived to the present is that they were cheaper than an equivalent UK inf unit and that means including pension costs as well. That may no longer be the case. If they offer a particular capability that other LI units cannot provide, then that can be taken into account. If not, then they’re just in the pool with the rest of the Army.

Not sure why it’s any more painful or sacred cowish than anything else.

Pte. James Frazer
Pte. James Frazer
November 24, 2014 6:23 pm

I’d hazard a guess that if fitness levels were a consideration, we’d chose to keep them over another cap badge

Jeneral28
Jeneral28
November 24, 2014 6:29 pm

Bin them and you have to bin the Gurkhas in signals, logistics etc…and lose any influence you have in the Asia Pacific. Oh, yeah forgot. All of you are Middle East Centric.

Hohum
Hohum
November 24, 2014 6:39 pm

And how much influence do you think they really provide in Asia-Pacific? Especially now it is a domain of swaggering super and regional powers?

Topman
Topman
November 24, 2014 6:40 pm

Harder now because of the campaign, I wonder if them having no shortage of volunteers is a fact? I think quite a few of the Inf struggle for recruits.

Jed
Jed
November 24, 2014 7:11 pm

I thought their own national government wanted to put a stop to the “provision of mercenary soldiers to foreign governments” including the UK and India ?

Last vestiges of the empire ? Even if not, we cannot afford to sentimental about their regiments history, the have to go bless em’.

:-(

Phil
November 24, 2014 7:15 pm

Don’t think a few thousand Gurkhas give us any influence at all there. And I have no problems with turning off the taps and phasing them out as long as they’re replaced from other recruitment pipelines.

The Other Chris
November 24, 2014 8:04 pm

That’s the problem with slaying sacred cows, track-record is you do not receive any of the savings. If you cull the Gurkhas cap-badge, there’s no replacement.

DavidNiven
DavidNiven
November 24, 2014 8:09 pm

Would it not make sense to cull the infantry units that are struggling to recruit first? and if that is the deciding factor then a few Scottish regts will be among the first to go.

clinch
clinch
November 24, 2014 8:24 pm

@DN It would appear that the Scottish units are ringfenced, like the foreign aid budget.

Dave P
Dave P
November 24, 2014 8:29 pm

The trouble with the Gurkhas is that they have a lot of support. If you were to replace them with a British Foreign Legion, you could get away with paying less in pensions and sending them to places where casualty rates may be higher then you could politically support with British Soldiers. Taking this proposition further, you could pay them 30 grand a year for a private with no pension and take single men only. Put them under special forces command so their deployments are secret and you have a force that is deployable without too much political baggage and without as much concern for casualties. You may have guessed that I am a cynic.

paul g
November 24, 2014 8:46 pm

“Frankly the Army should take 100% of any cuts required from SDSR15, just pick which cap badges you want to drop”.

yeah right, that’ll work. Not forgetting the cull down to 82,000 just recently. Thank F*&k you have no influence over SDSR15.
I’m all for squaring away poorly recruited battalions but that statement you came out with was utter utter bollocks

Observer
Observer
November 24, 2014 8:58 pm

We do keep Gurka units on retainer, it was a holdover from the bad old days that may still be a bit relevant these days.

For one, they act as part of the “stiffener” for reserve units. Reserve units, for better or worse, are not as familiar with ops as a regular unit. Having a few Gurka units mixed in helps stabilize them a lot more. They are also more familiar living off the land than us city boys. Seeing them hunt wild boar in the jungle was an interesting experience.

Beyond that, they can be deployed into any racial conflict without accusations of bias, and they do have a reputation of “don’t mess with them”. Fair but tough is the image you want.

I also do know of an incident where a couple got into a bit of trouble in Nepal, and the person who finally helped them out was a soldier from the Gurka contingent over here that was home on leave. You can never have enough friends in strange places.

Unfortunately, like all things, it all comes down to money. If not for the budget, would we even be having this discussion? Like the Chinese say: “Money can’t do everything, but without money, nothing can be done.” (very rough translation-closer one would be “Money can’t do a thousand things (everything), but without money, thousands of things can’t be done”. Doesn’t flow as well though). If you’re looking for first in, last out units, you can’t go too far wrong with the Gurkhas.

NG
NG
November 24, 2014 9:18 pm

Get rid of them. Another regiment can do Brunei or somewhere else in the region if necessary.

Mark1603
Mark1603
November 24, 2014 9:48 pm

They missed the opportunity to reshape the Brigade when Honk Kong shut. That was the ideal time to get rid of the transport, signal and engineer elements, but that is water under the bridge.
The other thing people forget is that whilst they have fought alongside the British for a long time, they have only been in the British Army orbat since Indian independence.
Before that they were in the Indian Army, and when they got independence, the Indian Army kept about 2/3rds and we got the rest. This was one of the reasons their terms of service were as they were, to stop them all leaving the Indian’s to join the Brits.
Like the agreement that prevents countries upstream from the Nile from damming it for water, people need to understand the history of why these things are what they are.
Sadly the MinDef at the time had no idea and succumbed to the hype and media aided and abetted by St J Lumley.
Sadly of my Christmas card list for that one.

Chuck
Chuck
November 24, 2014 9:52 pm

Surprised how popular this idea is.

Is that how our nation rewards 200+ years of fine service and loyalty?

Price of everything, value of nothing.

Not to mention the “It’s better to die than live a coward” attitude is something that really needs to be promoted not removed in this era of treating every single casualty as a national tragedy that must be avoided at any cost even if that cost is victory.

Nick
Nick
November 25, 2014 6:04 am

Chuck

“this era of treating every single casualty as a national tragedy that must be avoided at any cost even if that cost is victory”

I’m not convinced that is the UK public attitude at all. The problem we appear to stem (I think) from the lack of a decent explanation why the UK has deployed its military force recently where it has (including the whole Bliar Blair way of taking the UK into GW2 and Bush’s poodle attitude).

This is combined with the apparent overreach on behalf of our military leaders and the apparent high levels on incompetence they have shown in Whitehall (the too few troops, too few helicopters approach to Afghanistan, what exactly is our mission here).

The UK public seems to have certainty moved past any Imperial overhang we had (seemingly unlike our politicians and military leadership). In some ways its the same attitude that asks why are we spending X hundred million on overseas aid to India, when the Indian government is investing billions into space exploration (and just why do we chose to spend 1 % of GDP on the aid budget anyway) and drives the rise of UKIP. There is little public trust in the STATE at all.

monkey
monkey
November 25, 2014 9:09 am

One of our commentators says the Gurkhas aren’t as good as people think, and yes people trade on past glories to keep their esprit de corps going (if not their cap badge) .If they are just another brigade then the same hard choices need to be made. One area the Army is struggling on though is recruitment and retention which the Gurkha Brigade excel at ,with each new position subscribed 36 to 1 and even after pre-pre-selection whittles that down to 300 for 126 places the selection week is much more intense than a UK recruit has to endure ( how many would pass?) After that on completion of training at Catterick ( with the lowest drop out rate) a Mandatory 12 years contract which are almost always extended to 22years come the time. There is now a drive to extend this to the Reservists (they had to go home previously) but this will still struggle with private security forces who used to take up the 22 year veterans.
This if nothing else should give them at small lead over another cap badge .How many UK recruits leave after 3 or 5 years service taking all that very expensive initial training with them and we fail to sign them up to the Reservists (Capita and the number 20 familiar?)

Chris
Chris
November 25, 2014 9:27 am

Chuck – ref “price of everything, value of nothing” – it is the modern way. Have you not noticed how the self-proclaimed experts (particularly those that are part of the machinery of the State to which Nick refers) consider the most important measures of any organisation are the PowerPoint statistics they bat around on TV interviews? Carefully chosen statistics of course, those that make their arguments stronger. Could they care less about the service measured by those statistics? Probably not. So long as the services keep providing statistics as ammunition for their pretty banal political spats. So we get waiting time between arrival in A&E and first assessment down to meet an arbitrary target but thereafter treatment may be worse than before (all effort focused on the waiting time target). But the stats say things are getting better. We get decades where exam results in almost every school across the entire country get better every single year which politicians and the teaching profession all proclaim as proof the quality of teaching is improving – the stats prove it. I went to an outstanding state school that many thought on a par with public schools for results, and the high fliers that were snapped up by Oxbridge Universities had fewer A grades than are now considered merely adequate for the general school averages. But exams haven’t got easier – oh no. Stats. Hideous things. Most companies now run on little more than statistical based targets because it removes the need for senior management to be properly knowledgeable and skilled in the profession themselves. Whereas once the management were a body of greybeards that had worked through the business and knew the business inside-out, now it is expected that management can be brought in from anywhere so long as they can show a grasp of process (stats based) and personnel management (stats based) and efficiency initiatives (stats based).

Sometimes I think it would be absolutely brilliant if senior management were forced to leave the plush offices and do shopfloor work while their workers took a week off. I doubt many would be able to perform anywhere near the level they, as management, demand.

The military, fortunately, does promote from within. Most of the time it seems (from an outsider’s view) the Officers place achievable demands upon their subordinates, and most of the time the subordinates seem to be praised and appreciated by their superiors. It is as it should be. Only once the military gain high office, where the future holds mostly peerages and book deals, does reality seem to fall away. Where the stats-driven political machine becomes more real than the reality of running the military, unrealistic demands and expectations flourish.

Those that grew up in a country where goodness was determined qualitatively rather than quantitatively – by perception and involvement rather than by brightly coloured graphs of statistics – are a dying breed. The coming generations sadly will believe whatever the stats say. So if the manipulators can produce statistical evidence that the Gurkha is less value for money than the typical soldier, their future would be bleak.

Nick
Nick
November 25, 2014 9:53 am

Chris

I think politics today is about the attainment and maintenance of power without any coherent idea of how to use it, let alone what they want to do with it. Politics as a career in of itself.

Thus they become beholden to special interest groups, special advisors, lobbyists, the media and media barons, the rich and connected etc, who are collectively the only people they meet and talk to.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
November 25, 2014 10:15 am

Monkey added some perspective. I can just add (RGR barracks were less than half a mile from my house) that the gurkhas seemed to manage the same running speed with a full pack on as the others (civvies) without.

Aubrey's Shadow
Aubrey's Shadow
November 25, 2014 10:37 am

As you’d have gathered, I’m none too expert on Army frippery, but tacking back to the crux of the matter, isn’t the most important question to address whether or not culling the Gurkhas would improve or diminish our ability to present a capable and broad range of war-fighting ability ?

So, purely from a technical perspective, would losing the Gurkhas in any way strengthen our war-winning ability ?

a
a
November 25, 2014 10:48 am

It would appear that the Scottish units are ringfenced, like the foreign aid budget.

Yeah? Tell that to the Argylls.

a
a
November 25, 2014 10:52 am

Monkey makes a good point (he seems to keep doing that) – anecdotally, Gurkha retention seems to be a lot better than in other infantry units. Treat them on the same basis as other battalions, sure, because they cost the same… but that seems like one good argument for keeping them.

The other good argument is a cadre one: in the very unlikely event of some government actually deciding to increase infantry numbers, it would be very easy to grow a few more Gurkha battalions using the current ones as cadre, given the ease they have recruiting. But it would be much more difficult to stand them up from scratch if we’d abolished them.

Obsvr
Obsvr
November 25, 2014 11:11 am

A few points:
The Gurkhas are not super-soldiers, they are merely competent light infantry (ignoring RE, R Sigs and RLC elements of which the equivalent can probably be said).
That said I’ve served on operations with Gurkha and inf of other nations, the biggest military stuff-up I’ve seen was by Gurkhas. Professionally they were generally no better or worse than the others (including properly trained conscripts, albeit selective conscription).
Gurkha training is longer, which means it costs more, teaching them English is part of this (no jokes about Geordies).
No-one has ever tried to convert them to armd inf, that would probably take a lot longer than Brit inf, hence Brit infantry are a more flexible asset, which means better value.
Brunei is the issue. Stationing UK inf there would create a whole new set of problems (actual and potential). The Sultan pays for them (probably over the odds).
Employing Gurkhas is also a form of aid to Nepal.

Observer
Observer
November 25, 2014 12:20 pm

Wasn’t the bill for the Gurkhas in Brunei foot by the Sultan of Brunei instead of the MoD? Get rid of them and you lose 2 free battalions.

Engineer Tom
Engineer Tom
November 25, 2014 12:23 pm

Is the ethnicity aspect an asset of the Gurkhas i.e. would they be more accepted by a local community due to the fact they aren’t white.

Spidapex
Spidapex
November 25, 2014 12:25 pm

“Employing Gurkhas is also a form of aid to Nepal.”

How long before someone suggests that the DFID pays for them?

Challenger
Challenger
November 25, 2014 12:51 pm

@Observer

Not absolutely sure but i think the Sultan pays for accommodating a battalion and all of the support elements and the jungle warfare school, which isn’t the same as actually paying for the soldiers themselves in terms of training, wages, pensions etc.

As others have said though i’m not sure if the Gurkha’s were scrapped whether it would be the best idea to replace them with a British battalion in Brunei.

Observer
Observer
November 25, 2014 1:10 pm

Well Challenger, if he’s paying for support, you ain’t. :) Savings there too.

monkey
monkey
November 25, 2014 1:25 pm

Observer is right we should be glad of any financial help we can get by whatever backdoor. The Sultanate also is home to the British Army Jungle Warfare School which he subsidizes too. If we do disband/ reduce the relatively self sufficient Gurkha Brigade (the do their own signals,RE etc) the would find a home with the Sultanate which all ready employs over 2000 in his Gurkha Reserve Unit ,retired Gurkhas ( I said a lot are taken up by private security forces) . The Sultanate would not fall out with us over this but it could do some damage as the Sultans personal body guard are mostly that 2000+Gurkhas who have some influence however small. P.S. does any other regiment go at double time everywhere and need almost no high altitude acclimatisation time before deployment.

a
a
November 25, 2014 1:28 pm

No-one has ever tried to convert them to armd inf

Though it’s not a bad idea. IIRC the Soviets designed a lot of their armoured vehicles so they were too small for all but the smallest 10% of soldiers. If you were short, you went into the armour. If you were tall, you didn’t. Meant they could keep their vehicle profiles nice and low.
A Gurkha-sized Warrior would be about 20% smaller than a full-sized one…

Jeneral28
Jeneral28
November 25, 2014 2:03 pm

DFID this DFID that…if you bother to read up, the USAID spends more than DFID in monetary value and does more damage than harm. I don’t see Americans calling for their USAID and US MCC and State and Agriculture and how many other aid agencies the US has to be cut.

Chris
Chris
November 25, 2014 2:06 pm

a – I think the criteria was ‘less than 5ft 8″ tall’ to get into Soviet armour. Its a brilliant strategy because the benefits are really significant (smaller vehicle needing smaller engine and smaller transmission burning less fuel so the fuel tank is smaller (or range longer); lower height means a narrower vehicle can be as stable; more room inside for ready rounds; the all-round smaller vehicle can take extra armour thickness and still be lighter; and and and. Of course its impossible in the UK. To bar soldiers from armoured roles due to their size would be discriminatory hence not Politically Correct. It doesn’t matter that the measure would increase the fighting effectiveness of the armed forces (were vehicles bought to suit the new reduced size limit) – Political Correctness must not and can never be overruled. Never.

We in the UK did produce vehicles of smaller scale than now permitted; indeed Warrior probably no longer complies to the revised anthropometric requirements. I have tried to fit 97th Percentile personnel in Saracen (6×6 armoured car of capacity defined as 2+9 troops) and find not only would there be just enough space to fit 3 dismounts but they crouch round-shouldered with backsides on the floor just to fit. The driver has to bend double to get eyeline low enough to see through his vision block.

I don’t believe the average size of people in 50 years has increased to such a degree. It is an arbitrary decision on the part of MOD to mandate such a wide range of personnel sizes, from tiny as a sparrow girls to Fijian rugby player sized men. While the soldiers might quite like the relaxed generous sized crew compartments, the impact on vehicle design is severe; personnel volume is one of many reasons why ASCOD-FRES-SV is such a huge monster and why it needs 700hp to drag itself around.

monkey
monkey
November 25, 2014 3:20 pm


Agree with you on every detail , we could get more for less if we were willing to make a stand on this requirement and make a compromise. We exclude women from many roles based on whatever factors ,not willing to open that stream but it serves my point that at times the military will make exceptions. Perhaps a servey of the troops of “would you like more protection , in a more manouverable vehicle, with less chance of been hit or even seen or heard due to a smaller engine and transmission, with the ability to carry more ammo where the behemouth fuel tanks where (or carry more water) ,the air conditioning will keep up as there isn’t a radiant surface the size of a barn collecting the suns heat, less escorting fuel truck convoys due to reduced fuel consumption or more legroom? We all know how the govt loves statistics and surveys from concerned citizens perhaps it might get a yes vote.
On a funnier note it could lead to the Heavy Infantry Brigades populated by 5’8” 10 stone and below troops and the Light Infantry Brigades by 6′ 2″+ 15 stone+ troops :-)

a
a
November 25, 2014 4:24 pm

” Of course its impossible in the UK. To bar soldiers from armoured roles due to their size would be discriminatory hence not Politically Correct.”

No, it wouldn’t – that’s the Daily Mail talking. It is nothing to do with Political Correctness.

There are seated height limits for most aircraft – you can’t fly a fast jet if you can’t fit in the cockpit. (For example, USAF pilot candidates have to have “standing height of 64 to 77 inches and sitting height of 34 to 40 inches”.) Bad luck if you’re a 6’5″ bloke whose dream is to fly jets – no hope. There’s no legal reason why you shouldn’t impose height limits on armoured troops as well.

There are, however, practical reasons. Under the roulement system, it would mean height limits affecting a large chunk of the army, as every infantry bn would have to be armoured at some point and would have to have some or all of its soldiers meeting the size requirements. Not an issue now, of course.
And there’s also the recruiting question. It’s tough enough recruiting for the infantry without having to turn away 50% of your candidates for being too tall. If your strategy for keeping numbers up is “recruit Fijians” then you have a particular problem…

a
a
November 25, 2014 4:28 pm

And another reason – flexibility. Say you go ahead and do it – so you have three armoured Bantam Brigades made up of tiny little warriors in tiny little Warriors, and the rest of the army is normal size. And then you discover that you need to put, say, your artillery FOO teams in Warriors too, so they can keep up with the armour; and they can’t fit in because they’re all big lads.

as
as
November 25, 2014 7:44 pm

A@
Interesting point about height limits. Russian tank crews have to be shorter the 5ft7 to fit in all there modern tanks. I think the autoloader takes up lots of the room. There are various jobs that use to have height limits but those have since been removed. I suppose the easy one is the Guards regiments like every one to be within a few inches height difference to get nice strait lines.

as
as
November 25, 2014 7:53 pm

The British army had Bantam regiments during the first world war.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bantam_(military)
There primary roll was specialized tunnelling companies.
Most of the men came from the mines so it is not supressing.
The soldiers were below the British Army’s minimum regulation height of 160 cm.
The requirement for their height was between 4 ft 10in (147 cm) and 5 ft 3in (160 cm).

WiseApe
November 25, 2014 8:16 pm

“…the Guards regiments like every one to be within a few inches height difference to get nice strait lines.” – I thought it was because they wear hand me down trousers.

as
as
November 25, 2014 8:29 pm

WiseApe @
Along those lines:-
Do the breast plates the Household Cavalry wear do the come in more then one size? Are they custom made for each trooper? Sound expensive if that is the case.
Dress uniforms in general if they are made new and not passed down sound like a great expense.

as
as
November 25, 2014 8:49 pm

Some regiments may have up to 16 different uniforms.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_Army_uniform
Ok some are not in use but do you really need more then perhaps 4 maybe even 2 at a push.
I have never see how much the MOD spends on uniforms but it sounds expensive.

The RAF have 14 different ones.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Royal_Air_Force_uniform

The Navy has 9 fore offices and 8 for sailors.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Royal_Navy_uniform

That is a lot of different uniforms to store and to be transported about depending on the location troops are being deployed to. Temperate, warm weather, tropical, dress, work and combat it all adds up.

Topman
Topman
November 25, 2014 9:02 pm

@ as

I bet lots of those are only in tiny numbers. Alot of the very unusual ones will be signed out or bought. Costswise, I’d bet it has been asked FoI.

a
a
November 26, 2014 10:28 am

I thought we binned the Arms Plot when Noah was a lad

Only in 2004! Thanks for making me feel old… As I said, it’s not an issue now, but it would mean that, should the need arise to permanently rerole battalions as part of future SDRs, we couldn’t do it. At least you couldn’t turn a light bn into an armoured bn, because they’d all be too tall.

Uniforms: as, a lot of those in that list are no longer issued. No one wears battledress. No one wears desert or tropical combats – they’ve been replaced by MTP.
So the real list is something like
combats
dress uniform
service dress (jacket and tie)
barrack dress (shirt and pullover)
boiler suit or similar as needed

And, really, that’s all you need. Maybe you could bin barrack dress? But I can’t see it making much difference. You’d have to issue more sets of service dress to make up for it, so the savings would be minimal.

Fluffy Thoughts
Fluffy Thoughts
November 26, 2014 7:16 pm

The Boss is using the RGR as bait. Await the RRS thread: Three “real” battalions struggling to recruit the locals in to a five battalion facade.

Why not cut the RRS to the core; reduce overheads; and create a single Fijian battlion regiment? We all know it makes sense…!

Obsvr
Obsvr
November 27, 2014 9:16 am

And of course officers buy their own service dress, etc with an allowance, so no stocks required, which means different regiments can have different SDs for officers.

monkey
monkey
November 27, 2014 2:53 pm

@Fluffy Thoughts
“create a single Fijian ..regiment” That would just be very un-British to inflict such a thing on the enemies of the Empire , besides you can only fit 4 in a Warrior !

Observer
Observer
November 27, 2014 11:06 pm

Monkey, but when they start dancing immediately after dismounting, it’s a sight to behold! :)