69 Gurkha Field Squadron
Since January 2012 69 Gurkha Field Squadron (Search) has re-roled and both prepared for and deployed on an extremely demanding 6 month tour to Afghanistan in its new role as a Search Sqn. The training burden for this has been immense with nearly 90 soldiers and officers being trained in High Assurance Search and various role specific requirements such as Mastiff driving and commanding, battlefield first aid with trauma management and search equipment instructor courses. We have also supported various mission rehearsal exercises both within the UK and Jordan which have kept most away from their families for over 4 months before deploying to Afghanistan for a further 6 months. For many this tour would have been a 3rd deployment on Op HERRICK, Afghanistan.
Clearly the reshaping of a Squadron has required considerable management. Although manning has been managed by the Regtl and Sqn Headquarters it must be mentioned that Capt Tara Pun (now retired) ran the sqn’s operations departments with exceptional competence. His meticulous and level headed approach to fulfilling what seemed to be our endless training requirements undoubtedly ensured that the sqn was appropriately prepared to tackle the challenges that they faced during their deployment to Afghanistan. Most importantly this training enabled the sqn to fulfil their new role with confidence and allowed them to add great value to many difficult ground operations and deliver equipment and search trg to Afghanistan’s developing security forces.
Our soldiers and officers have once again proudly represented QGE with their natural ability to adjust to this new and demanding role. Our versatility has not gone unnoticed and we received much praise for the value we added throughout our 6 month tour both in planning and delivery of search tasks. We also fulfilled a number of key posts within the EOD and Search Taskforce; Our OC, Maj Andy Gooch, who was extremely busy preparing for deployment and dealing with various sensitive redundancy issues took on the very difficult task of running both the sqn and planning for the taskforce as its Chief of Staff. WO2 (SSM) Manjit Gurung, who arrived shortly before the deployment, also took on a key role as SSM of the Operations Sqn and was able to give much support and advice directly to the Task Force Commanding Officer, Lt Col E G Robinson.
Rear Operations Group
It was certainly a challenge both administratively and logistically to deploy 73 personnel to Afghanistan but the sqn was continually supported by a large Rear Operations Group (ROG) commanded by Capt Ed Thompson and WO2 Prakash Rai (now posted to Catterick). Throughout the tour the ROG not only supported those deployed and managed our Battlefield Casualty Replacements (BCRs) but most importantly provided a focal point for those families who remained behind. With the support of a fairly generous welfare grant we were able to organise various monthly functions to ensure that we were able to bring together each of our families.
Although extremely busy with more routine Regimental work we were still able to complete a number of local construction tasks including a 3 week combat engineering task at the Wildlife Heritage Foundation led by Cpl Dev. This enabled us to refresh the key core skills needed as a Queen’s Gurkha Engineer.
In the coming months 69 Gurkha Field Squadron (Search) will be focused on the necessary collective training to prepare ourselves for yet another re-role to Force Support. We will see ourselves deploying on combat engineering exercises within the UK as well as a 3 month construction tour to Canada at the beginning of 2014. The Sqn has learnt a great deal from yet another deployment to Afghanistan but this re role will bring us back to more familiar grounds as we prepare for our next global commitments wherever they me be.
Finally we must publicly congratulate a number of key individuals for their promotion; Capt Luttig, SSgts Prakash Rai and Govinda Rana for their promotions to WO2, Sgt Birendra, Khelendra, Buddha and Binam for their promotions to SSgt, Cpl Ram for his promotion to Sgt, and LCpls Akash, Joseph, Premjung for their promotions to Cpl.
During yet another busy and testing year the support the squadron receives from all of its associated families continues to be extremely humbling and we must once again offer our thanks to our families. The Tour to Afghanistan was indeed challenging but we can hold our heads up high with the work we completed and most importantly the safe return of all of our officers and soldiers.
Jai 69 Sqn! Jai QGE!