New specialist Gurkha battalion to be formed

A new specialist battalion of Gurkhas is to be created, armed forces minister Mark Lancaster has confirmed.

The 3rd Battalion Royal Gurkha Rifles is to begin recruiting later this year and will be established as part of plans laid out in the 2015 Defence Review to build as many as five Specialised Infantry Battalions. 

These will be designed to focus on niche skills or particular parts of the world, with recruits able to share their unique skills and training.

Gurkha soldiers are renowned for their contribution to the British Army and can offer specialist language skills that allow them to build relationships with partners around the world.

As part of the new units, Gurkhas will also have more career opportunities, including promotion and the chance to serve a full 24-year Army career within the Brigade of Gurkhas.

New support is also to be provided by the Ministry of Defence to enhance the Gurkha units already serving the Army.

Colonel of the Royal Gurkha Rifles Major General Gez Strickland said: "The specialised infantry role is exciting and challenging and we look forward to learning new skills and making new partnerships around the world as we begin the new task. We are enormously proud of the Army's confidence in our ability to take this on."

Last month, 400 new Gurkhas completed their first day in the British Army in Nepal and were preparing to fly to Britain to begin their new life.

Currently, there are around 3,000 Gurkhas and the regiment will begin to accept women for the first time from 2020.

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