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TRANCHE 2 REDUNDANCY – A MESSAGE FROM COL BG
Redundancy is never an easy issue, and many soldiers in the Brigade will be rightly concerned because they are in the field. Reactions will vary through a range of emotions from anger, fear, frustration and deep concern about job security, family and money. I ask you all to bear in mind 4 things during this difficult time: do not be afraid; remember that you are not alone – your Regimental HQ and HQBG are here to help; the redundancy package being offered is a good one; there are plenty of opportunities for work for Ex-Gurkha soldiers and we will help you to find a job.
We have all known for sometime, really since we came back from Hong Kong in 1997, that we are over strength against our establishment (liability). These cuts in our strength, contrary to the angle that some media are saying, have not been unexpected. The Brigade of Gurkhas (BG) is more than 700 personnel over strength against our establishment of 2926. 146 of these have already been selected for redundancy in Tranche 1 and depart from the Army in Aug 2012.
The reason that the BG is over strength is twofold:
(1) Planned: the 2 additional Gurkha Reinforcement Companies with 3 YORKs and 1RGR. A total of 206 posts. Both of these are due to disband soon: 3 YORKS GRC in Sep 12; GRC 1 RGR in Sep 13 (tbc).
(2) Unplanned: most of the remainder. When the BG went to the new GTACOS in 2007 it meant that all Gurkha soldiers were extended from their original minimum engagement of 15 years to 22 years.
The reality is, that no matter how painful these reductions are, they are essential for the continued efficiency of the BG in order to prepare it for a place in the future Army ORBAT as a steady and manned BG organisation in manning balance.
Thanks to the hard work of our Colonels Commandant and Regimental Colonels, the BGs liability has actually grown in real terms since 1997. Many more Gurkhas have had the opportunity to serve in the British Army than we originally envisaged in 1990/91. The original BG ORBAT after options for change was 2500 by 1997. However, because of the quality of soldiers in BG, our ability to recruit, as well as operational commitments, the BGs liability rose to its current establishment of 2926. Nevertheless, the fact remains that the BG has a large surplus of strength (over 800) against liability and it urgently needs to get back into manning balance because its current structures and promotion opportunities are not sustainable with that excess.
There has been a view recently expressed in the media that part of the reason for the cuts is that Gurkhas are more expensive. This is manifestly not the case or the reason. The BG’s costs are certainly comparable and competitive with British units and we continue to deliver a first class military capability. Other people, including some Ex-Gurkhas, have unfortunately been ill-informed and are that the BG is being unfairly targeted, but this is also not the case for the reasons explained above. The answer on both counts is simple and the same: the reason for the requirement to make BG personnel redundant is because we are over our establishment.
Some final points on Tranche 2 redundancy:
The original figure of 416 was a target figure. A rigorous and careful redundancy selection process has been conducted by the MOD, DM(A) and APC Glasgow to determine eligibility. I have witnessed the process and it has been transparent, logical and fair. A total of 320 have now been selected from the Brigade for Tranche 2 Redundancy.
What happens after the announcement?
(1) Most of our soldiers for Tranche 2 are not volunteers. They will therefore have 12 months before they leave British Army Service – 11 Jun 2013 – to apply for ILR, conduct resettlement training and start a second career. There were 20 volunteers who will leave in Dec 12.
(2) HQBG and the Regts have a robust support plan to try and help each of our redundees to find a job within that timeframe. There is a great deal of liaison going on with a very large number of companies who want to employ Ex-Gurkhas, particularly in the Security Area. We are giving them authority to liaise direct with our units. Bde Week 2012 will see the first annual employment fair on 28 Jun specifically aimed at providing job opportunities for Ex-Gurkhas.
(3) The UK Border Agency has been exceptionally supportive and has agreed that redundees can now apply for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) 6 months in advance of their termination date rather than the current 10 weeks. This gives Gurkhas a very definite chance of getting a job before they leave or shortly afterwards – which is my intent.
(6) All ILR applications will continue to be submitted centrally through HQBG. We will process them very quickly, send them to the UKBA and monitor their progress to ensure that they are fast-tracked. Where problems arise we will try and resolve this for you quickly. This system is beginning to work and allows us to help you.
Finally, I want to reassure you that HQBG will lead on all policy and support aspects of Gurkha redundancy within the BG through your own Regimental chains of command. We exist to help you and, if you are chosen to be made redundant, we will do all in our power to make your transition to civilian life as smooth and efficient as possible. Redundancy is a challenge for both those going and those who have to manage it on your behalf and stay behind. I will finish with saying this: we are all in it together, and Gurkha soldiers have always risen to challenges. If you are selected, help us to help you take charge of your own destiny to get the best possible solution for you as an individual and for your family. Be positive, be proud of your service and use it your advantage in your future careers. You are a Gurkha soldier, the best of the best. Employers recognise this. What is a very traumatic event, leaving the service that you love, has the potential to provide you with some real opportunities for a new life. I reiterate, we are here to advise and assist and will provide you with regular updates.
I A RIGDEN OBE
Ext 94344 5653
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