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Wednesday, April 02, 2003

Enter the Gurkhas.

The storied Nepali warriors have arrived in Iraq.

"In the last two years we've been everywhere the British Army's been, from East Timor to Afghanistan," Major Stevens said.

Their reputation is also tethered to their "ethos" -- adherence to a strict, self-imposed code of honor and discipline.

"We must be loyal, honest, well-trained," explained a rifleman standing in front of perfectly arranged cots flush and grounded at their encampment here. "We are very experienced, especially in jungle warfare."

A more recognizable trademark is their long and lethal Kukri knife, a symbol of their legacy and lethality.

The Gurkhas are working with the four agencies already securing this base, including Security Forces, RAF and Ministry of Defense Police and local constabularies.

"We're very happy to be working with the MOD police and U.S. Forces," a Gurkha rifleman said. "We are not sure about the conflict with Iraq and we don't know what will happen, but we're here now and we're happy to help."

God help the Fedayeen.

Here's a good source for Gurkha links.

This is the official British Army website for the Brigade of Gurkhas, complete with an explanation of the famous kukri knives.

My favorite story about the Gurkhas is almost certainly apocryphal, but accurately depicts the loyalty and courage of these men. The story says the British were expanding their paratrooper divisions, and were seeking recruits. The obvious choice was to ask the Gurkhas. A British company commander agreed, and assembled his Gurkha unit, confident that most, if not all, would volunteer. He explained to the soldiers that the Army was seeking volunteers for these new units, and explained that they would undergo risky 1000ft plus airdrops behind enemy lines. To the officer's shock, only about half stepped forward to volunteer. The Gurkha sergeant was also surprised, and queried the men himself. He quickly came back, and told the officer to ask again. Puzzled, the officer complied. This time, the entire unit stepped forward.

"I told them they would get parachutes," the sergeant explained.

Another version of this story is told here.

Relax. They're on our side.

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