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Gurkhas from 2 Battalion Royal Gurkha Rifles based at Sir John Moore Barracks in Folkestone join army's 16 Air Assault Brigade based in Colchester

By Matt Leclere

Folkestone’s Gurkhas took on a new rapid response role within the Army yesterday.

Troops from the 2nd Battalion Royal Gurkha Rifles (2RGR) based at the Sir John Moore Barracks in Shorncliffe will now become part of 16 Air Assault Brigade (16 Air Asslt Bde) - a fast response airborne branch of Britain’s armed forces.

The amalgamation into 16 Air Asslt Bde, which is based in Colchester, was marked at a parade ceremony in Folkestone last Thursday and led by Brigadier Nick Borton, brigade commander of 16 Air Asslt Bde, who welcomed the troops into the brigade.

16 Air Assault Brigade is the army's rapid response force
16 Air Assault Brigade is the army's rapid response force

But no troops will be relocated from Folkestone to Essex.

The brigade is part of the Joint Helicopter Command - a multi-service force combining the Royal Navy, Army and RAF and uses the Apache attack helicopter.

It is Britain’s high readiness brigade and its core function is to provide the UK’s Air Assault Task Force and means they are required to be ready to deploy anywhere in the world at short notice.

2nd Battalion Royal Gurkha Rifles parade as part of becoming part of 16 Air Assault Brigade
2nd Battalion Royal Gurkha Rifles parade as part of becoming part of 16 Air Assault Brigade

As a result of the change of role for the Gurkhas their rifle-green berets are changed so soldiers will now wear the maroon berets signifying them as airborne troops.

Commander of 2RGR Lt Col Marcus Reedman said: “The battalion is delighted to be moving into 16 Air Asslt Bde and we are looking forward to the challenges and opportunities that it will bring.

“I know that the soldiers will, once more, quickly master the skills of aviation assault. 16 Air Asslt Bde is highly regarded and I am confident that 2RGR will not only fit well into the formation but will bring additional skills and manpower that will enhance its standing further.”

The troops swapped their green berets for maroon ones signifying they are now recognised as airborne troops
The troops swapped their green berets for maroon ones signifying they are now recognised as airborne troops
Brigadier Nick Borton of 16 Air Assault Brigade with Lt Col Marcus Reedman, commanding officer of 2RGR. Picture: Gary Browne
Brigadier Nick Borton of 16 Air Assault Brigade with Lt Col Marcus Reedman, commanding officer of 2RGR. Picture: Gary Browne

They will also work with French airborne troops and the US Army’s 82nd Airborne Division having already taken part in exercises in America this year.

It is another major landmark for the Gurkhas as they celebrate 200 years of service to Britain this year.

Brig Borton added: “I am delighted that, in the year that they celebrate 200 years of service to the Crown, the Gurkhas are joining 16 Air Assault Brigade. Their characteristics of high standards, physical fitness and fierce fighting spirit perfectly match those of the Army’s Very High Readiness Brigade, and we are looking forward to working with them.”

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