CIVILIAN CONTRACTORS: The Nepali Gurkha in International Security Contracting

gurkha-security-contractors
gurkha-security-contractors

“If a man says he is not afraid of dying, he is either lying or is a Gurkha” ~ Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw Former Chief of staff of the Indian Army

If you work in the Civilian Contracting business as a PSC (Private Security Contractor) one of the most common things you will do is work side by side with ex-military guys recruited from countries around the world (oftentimes referred to as “TCN Guards” [1]). The US Department of Defense allows PMC’s (Private Military Contractors) to hire these individuals for security jobs on Military Bases because they are able to have experienced ex-soldiers for security operations at a fraction of the cost of an American or Brit.

These TCN Guards are always recruited from parts of the 3rd world, with Asia and now Africa being the most popular recruiting grounds for PMC’s looking for the unemployed ex-soldier. But ex-Brit Gurkhas have always been the first choice when PMC’s are looking to recruit highly skilled and disciplined ex- soldiers from the 3rd world.

Most ex-Gurkha PSC’s work on Force Protection contracts doing everything from checking ID’s at gates to manning ECP’s, with the majority of the contracts in the Middle East. Some ex-Gurkha PSC’s work in higher risk jobs like convoy escort, I remember seeing these guys running the roads as turret gunners back in 03-05 during the “golden years” of security contracting work in Iraq.

Being a big Military history buff I was already somewhat familiar with the history of the Gurkhas before I started working overseas as a PSC. The story of the Gurkhas working for foreign Army’s all started back in the early 1800’s when the British East India Company rolled into Nepal thinking they could just throw up the Union Jack and start building white columned colonial houses after crushing whatever native resistance there was – well, they were in for a bit of a surprise.

2nd-Gurkha-Light-Infantry-Circa-1890
2nd-Gurkha-Light-Infantry-Circa-1890

"Jai Mahakali, Ayo Gorkhali" – Translation: "Glory be to the Goddess of War, here come the Gurkhas!" ~ The Gurkha War Cry

The Gurkha was not the rock throwing native adversary the British East India Company Army was used to fighting. After getting their ass whooped into a stalemate with Nepal after fighting the Gurkhas for 3 years the British were so impressed with their bravery and fighting skills they ended up hiring them into the British Army after a protectorate deal between Nepal and Britain was reached.

From then on the Nepali Gurkhas have fought in the British Army in every war and conflict the United Kingdom has been involved in. From the First and Second Anglo-Sikh Wars in the mid-1800’s to World War I and II in the beginning of the 20 century the Nepali Gurkha has bravely fought and died in service to the United Kingdom.

To this day Gurkhas still serve in the British Military; besides the UK other countries have also recruited Gurkhas into their Military and Police Forces. You will see Gurkhas working as Policemen in Singapore, Brunei and Hong Kong, as royal guards in Qatar and as soldiers in the Indian Army.

Singapore-Gurkha
Singapore-Gurkha

“10 Expat PSC’s aren’t equal to 1 Gurkha PSC – These self entitled US or UK PSC’s always have sand in their vaginas despite the fact they get paid 20 times more and do 1/50th the amount of work an ex-Gurkha PSC does.”

~ John Smith[2] Security Contractor, Convoy Escort TL Baghdad, Iraq 2004

Considering how brave, disciplined and fierce the Gurkha is, it is no wonder the private military industry has tapped into the large pool of ex-Brit Gurkhas for international security work. Back in my late 20’s when I first started working in Security Contracting pretty much all TCN PSC’s were ex-Gurkhas.

Having had the pleasure of working side by side with Gurkhas a few times throughout my contracting career I can attest to their discipline and professionalism. Out of all the groups of people I have worked with the ex-Brit Gurkha is by far my favorite.

You will never meet an ex-Brit Gurkha PSC who has the Douchebag Affliction shirt wearing, beard growing, shitty attitude that is unfortunately so prevalent in this industry these days. These guys have zero ego despite having more combat experience in their pinky than most people have in their entire body – and I am talking about old school combat experience like “wearing face-paint in the jungle” type of fighting.

British-Army-Gurkhas
British-Army-Gurkhas

“As I write these last words, my thoughts return to you who were my comrades, the stubborn and indomitable peasants of Nepal. Once more I hear the laughter with which you greeted every hardship. Once more I see you in your bivouacs or about your fires, on forced march or in the trenches, now shivering with wet and cold, now scorched by a pitiless and burning sun. Uncomplaining you endure hunger and thirst and wounds; and at the last your unwavering lines disappear into the smoke and wrath of battle. Bravest of the brave, most generous of the generous, never had country more faithful friends than you.”

~ Professor Sir Ralph Turner, MC 3rd Queen Alexandra's Own Gurkha Rifles World War I

Old Sir Ralph couldn’t be more accurate in his description of the Gurkha, these guys will work a 12 hour shift on their feet in 130 degree weather for years and never cry or bitch about it once. Not only that, they will be polite to you the entire time – this is one of the things that separate the Gurkhas from all other PSC’s – they are nice guys.

Now you may be thinking “what does being nice have to do with shootin’ and lootin’?” – well, when you have to work all day long with someone in the blazing Middle Eastern sun or on an extremely dangerous and stressful gig in some hell-hole excuse of a failed state, then being surrounded by guys who are not ass-holes is a pretty big deal.

And from a PMC business standpoint having employees who are polite and friendly (especially for force protection contracts) is just a wise business decision – how your people on the ground interact with the customer and the public directly reflects on the company they work for.

I remember when I started hearing people complain about how “rude the guards were,” when the ex-Brit Gurkha PSC’s doing force protection in the IZ (International Zone Baghdad, Iraq) were replaced by South Americans and then Africans.

The 25th Royal Gurkha Rifles marching through Kure, Japan soon after their arrival in Japan as part of the Allied forces of occupation
The 25th Royal Gurkha Rifles marching through Kure, Japan soon after their arrival in Japan as part of the Allied forces of occupation

The 25th Royal Gurkha Rifles marching through Kure, Japan soon after their arrival in Japan as part of the Allied forces of occupation

And you want to talk about bravery? This is a story from a WW II vet [3]:

“I saw a group of Gurkhas assaulting a trench full of Germans; most of the Gurkhas were killed or wounded while trying to take the trench, when the last Gurkha ran out of ammo he pulled out his Kukri and jumped into the trench. He then ran down the trench line lobbing off the heads of every German in his path – the last few Germans at the end of the trench were so horrified at seeing this they threw down their guns and ran away”

Now how bad-ass it that? This Gurkha was so fucking hard-core that Nazis’ with machine guns threw their guns down and ran away at the very sight of him armed with only a knife. That shit is pimp, stories like that give me a hard-on.

In Conclusion...

The future of Gurkhas in Security Contracting is unclear these days; the US Military is ever whittling down the money for security contracts in war zones. One of the results of this disturbing trend is the PMC’s have less money to pay their TCN Guard Force. So most PMC’s have resorted to using ex-soldiers from the poorest countries in the world (Uganda for instance). An ex-Brit Gurkha PSC makes about 1200+ bucks a month versus 400 a month for an ex- soldier from Uganda – you do the math.

I think the Ugandans I have run into and have personally worked with in the past were good guys, and the American and Brit PSC’s I know who supervise and work with them in Iraq now generally say that Ugandans are good guards outside of some minor behavioral quirks (but they would not work out on the roads with them). So I am by no means hatin’ on Ugandan PSC’s.

But no one can deny that an ex-Gurkha who was trained by and served in the British Army combined with the long warrior history of the Gurkha working in foreign lands as quasi-mercenaries simply produces a superior PSC than an unstable 3rd world Army with a laundry list of human rights violations in a failed state does.

But like everything else in life it is all about the Benjamin’s, and if the US Military insists on continuing its trend of considering cost over quality when putting security contracts out for bid then the future of ex-Brit Gurkha PSC’s working in places like Iraq is pretty grim.

A-British-Army-Gurkha-in-Afghanistan
A-British-Army-Gurkha-in-Afghanistan

[1] Some people within the Civilian Contracting community consider the term “TCN” to be derogatory in nature. There is a lot of debate about this that I won’t get into here, but my using the term “TCN” in this article is in no way intended to be an insult to anyone. [2] Real name withheld for OPSEC, this guy is still an active security contractor [3] I heard it on a documentary, can’t remember which one offhand [Note] Gurkha, Gorkha and Ghurka are all common spellings, I chose Gurkha for no particular reason except it was the first

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~James G Founder - Editor in Chief

James G is a Veteran Civilian Contractor who has worked in the Middle East and Southeast Asia for way too long; he has traveled to over 50 countries chasing fortune and glory. He spends his off time in Indonesia and Virginia getting drunk, shooting guns, writing poorly written articles and getting drunk under the table by Gurkhas. James G. on FACEBOOK