His Majesty visits Royal Gurkha Rifles in Seria
Hakim Hayat

HIS Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam yesterday bade farewell to soldiers from the 2nd Battalion, Royal Gurkha Rifles (2RGR) at their base in Tuker Lines, Seria as they have completed their four-year stint under a rotational tour of duty in Brunei.

The battalion has had a highly successful time in Brunei, working closely with the Royal Brunei Armed Forces (RBAF) both in exercises, notably during the joint Ex Hikmat Bersatu 4 exercise last year and sporting activities.

The visit was His Majesty’s first to the British Military Base, British Forces Brunei since June 2006.

His Majesty, seen clad in a multi-terrain patterned military uniform, was greeted upon arrival at the HQ Brunei Garrison by the 2RGR’s Commanding Officer, Lt Col Marcus Reedman. His Majesty was received by a guard of honour mounted by 18 Gurkha soldiers led by Capt Gajendra Angdembe.

The monarch, who is also the Minister of Defence and Supreme Commander of the RBAF, later inspected the soldiers on parade and was presented with a ceremonial Kukri, the famous knife of the Gurkhas.

The visit continued with a briefing on the 26 Gurkha Victoria Cross recipients. His Majesty later addressed the junior soldiers and Non-Commissioned Officers as he walked through the barracks.

The monarch also toured a weapons display by the Support Company 2RGR which demonstrated the battalion’s armed capabilities, including sniper rifles and weapons being used in Afghanistan such as the 60mm mortar.

His Majesty also visited the weapons simulation before laying a wreath at the recently-opened Afghan Memorial Wall, built as a memorial to the 14 Gurkha officers and soldiers who have lost their lives serving in Afghanistan.

His Majesty then met hundreds of pupils from the Hornbill School, the British Forces Brunei. The school accommodates over 480 students from three to 11 years of age and about 150 teaching and non-teaching staff.

At the school, His Majesty was briefed on its activities and projects and interacted with schoolchildren comprising both Nepali children of Gurkha soldiers and children of British military personnel.

Before concluding the visit, His Majesty met with officers and their wives at the garrison’s Officers’ Mess in Mumong and consented to join a group photo at the mess lawn.

The battalion stationed in Brunei operates as the British Army’s acclimatised Far East reserve and is available for overseas deployment in the Far East region and beyond – the Brunei-based battalion has been deployed to Afghanistan as part of “Operation Herrick” on several occasions, as well as in East Timor and Sierra Leone.

The infantry battalion is supported by a small number of garrison troops that are permanently stationed in Brunei.

In addition, Brunei serves as one of the British Army’s major training areas, specialising in jungle warfare, with the Jungle Warfare Training School (also known as Training Team Brunei) running the Jungle Warfare Advisor’s Course and the Military Tracking Instructors Course in conjunction with the infantry battalion. The garrison has about 1,500 personnel.

Also present at the event yesterday were the outgoing British High Commissioner to Brunei Darussalam, Rob Fenn, and the Commander of the RBAF, Major General Dato Paduka Seri Haji Aminuddin Ihsan bin Pehin Orang Kaya Saiful Mulok Dato Seri Paduka Haji Abidin. - Borneo Bulletin (19 June 2013)