Gurkhas demonstrate skills in New Zealand

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Members of 2nd Battalion The Royal Gurkha Rifles (2 RGR) have staged an open day for diplomats and New Zealand Defence Force personnel.

They held the open day during their biannual exercise held in New Zealand - Exercise Pacific Kukri.

C Company, 2 RGR, commanded by Major Tom Pike, hosted the event at Tekapo Military Training Area on 16 April 2012.

Members of the diplomatic community in attendance at the event included the British High Commissioner, Vicki Treadell, the French Ambassador to New Zealand, Francis Etienne, and the American Ambassador, David Huebner.

Not to be outdone, the Commander of the New Zealand Defence Force, Lieutenant General Rhys Jones, came with the Head of the Army, Major General Tim Keating, and the Land Component Commander, Brigadier Mark Wheeler. Other Defence Attaches and senior Warrant Officers of the New Zealand Defence Force were also in attendance.

Lady June Hillary, the widow of Sir Edmund, was also present. She is still very active in the running of the Hillary Trust which helps the development of the Nepalese people in the Everest region.

The event started with a welcome by the British Defence Adviser Lieutenant Colonel Tim Woodman, followed by briefings on the Brigade of Gurkhas and recent operations in Helmand province given by Captain Rob Morford and Lieutenant John Vance.

After these briefings everyone was moved to the exercise area where they received an introduction to and demonstration of current British infantry weapons (including the kukri) by Corporals Sanjib and Kamal.

The visitors then had a chance to fire these weapons, including the new sniper rifle, a grenade launcher, and light, heavy and general purpose machine guns. The exercise phase concluded with a live firing deliberate attack. The visitors were then invited to sample a traditional Gurkha Bhat (curry) cooked by the Gurkha Master Chef, Sergeant Uttam.

The British High Commissioner awarded prizes to the winning section of the recent march and shoot competition which was won by the recce section under the command of Corporal Dinesh.

Second-in-Command of C Company, Captain Yubaraj Garbuja, said:

It is great to be in New Zealand; it reminds us of Nepal and the people are really friendly and helpful.

Lieutenant General Rhys Jones thoroughly enjoyed the day and commented that the exercise furthered relations between Britain and New Zealand and reminded him of the time that he had spent with the Gurkhas on exercise as a platoon commander.

Vicki Treadell was delighted with the co-operation shown between the New Zealand and British Defence Forces, commented on the famous reputation of the Gurkhas and said that the exercise cemented relations between the three nations of Nepal, New Zealand and the UK. She also stated that it was no accident that the American and French Ambassadors were present, showing the close links between the allies not only on the political front but also through their military forces.

The day finished with all guests being presented with a kukri and a Buddhist prayer scarf to wish them a safe journey home.

Exercise Pacific Kukri has now moved into its final military phase of a five-day live firing company exercise before members take part in the ANZAC parades on 25 April. The exercise concludes on 5 May 2012 when the Gurkhas will return to Brunei.

The Commanding Officer of 2 RGR, Lieutenant Colonel Fraser Rea, is also in New Zealand. As well as visiting his soldiers he is carrying out a lecture tour of New Zealand Defence Force units talking about the regiment’s recent tour of Afghanistan.