Attrition: Gurkha Women Being Recruited


June 22, 2007: Britain will, for the first time, recruit female Gurkhas into their armed forces. Male Gurkhas have been recruited for over two centuries from Nepal, where the Gurkha tribes live. Unlike the men, the women will serve in combat support units (engineering, logistics, signals, etc). There are currently 3,400 Gurkha men serving in the British army, and it's not yet known how many women will be recruited. A test group of fifty is being recruited now, to be put through training to see how they do.

Because of high unemployment in Nepal, a job in the British army is like winning the lottery. British military pay is more than 30 times what a good job in Nepal will get you. There are over sixty applicants for every annual opening for male recruits. It's expected that the ratio will be even higher for females. The men who don't make it into the British army, can try for openings in the Indian army Gurkha units. There are about ten times as many Gurkhas in the Indian army, but the pay is only a few times what one could make in Nepal, and the fringe benefits are not nearly as good. Then again, you're closer to home.

Britain may recruit more male, and female, Gurkhas, to make up for shortfalls in the recruiting of British citizens into the military. Gurkhas have an outstanding military record. Such duty is a tradition in the Gurkha tribes, where warriors, and things like loyalty and courage, have been held in high esteem for centuries. Nepal was never conquered by British, although they did fight a war with the colonial British army in the early 19th century. Although the Nepalis lost, they became allies of the British after a peace treaty was worked out. It was during these border wars that the British noted the military prowess of the Gurkha tribesmen serving the Nepali king. The British colonial army in India tended to hire from tribes and ethnic groups appeared to make better soldiers, and Gurkhas soon made a reputation for themselves in British service. Since then, over half a million Nepalis have served in the British army, with about ten percent of them dying in combat (over 80 percent of those during the two world wars.)


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