No cuts to Gurkhas pledge by Howard

Contributed by editor on Dec 13, 2004 - 03:08 PM


A furious dispute among senior military officers over the future structure of the British Army  could affect the Gurkhas at Shornecliffe Barracks.

Geoff Hoon, the defence secretary, was expected to make his announcement on the shake up  to MPs today although it is now thought unlikely it will be made before Wednesday.

Defence sources have suggested that ministers may reduce the size of the Gurkhas from two battalions to one. One of its battalions, of about 600 men, based in Shornecliffe could be axed, leaving the Gurkhas' remaining unit in Brunei, where it is already financed by the Sultan.

Folkestone and Hythe MP and Tory Leader Michael Howard said:  “The Gurkhas have performed a heroic role in the British Army for a very long time.  Any suggestion that they should be reduced from two battalions to one will be greeted with widespread dismay.

"If the Conservative Party wins the General Election we shall not make any cuts to the British Army. The future of the Gurkhas will then be safe.

So, if anyone shares my concern about the future of the Gurkhas, the solution is simple; they should vote Conservative at the General Election.�