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Britain axes hundreds of Gurkhas in new round of cuts
by Staff Writers
Kathmandu (AFP) June 13, 2012


Hundreds of Britain's Nepalese Gurkha fighters are to lose their jobs in a second round of cuts announced on Tuesday, which will see almost 3,000 posts slashed from the army.

The British Embassy in the Nepalese capital Kathmandu said around 320 troops would lose their jobs as the United Kingdom's coalition government takes further steps to slash a record deficit.

The steep cuts to the 3,000-strong Gurkha brigade, which has been part of the British army for nearly two centuries, follow 400 redundancies announced in January.

"As part of further work on British defence restructuring the British Army have today notified those individuals who have been selected for the second round of redundancies," the embassy said in a statement.

"Around 320 Gurkhas have been selected out of the 2,900 jobs to go. The Brigade of Gurkhas has been growing in size since modernisation in 2007, which also allowed them to serve for 22 years instead of 15."

Led by British actress Joanna Lumley, a 2009 campaign won Gurkha veterans who retired before 1997 with at least four years' service the right to settle permanently in Britain.

The Gurkha brigade has been swelling since 2008, when they were granted the right to serve 22 years, compared to 15 years previously.

"This reduction in numbers has therefore been anticipated for some time. All affected personnel will be given 12 months notice and will be given a comprehensive programme of resettlement into civilian life and help with future employment," the embassy added.

About 200,000 Gurkhas fought for Britain in World War I and World War II and more than 45,000 have died in British uniform. They have a reputation for ferocity and bravery and are known for their distinctive curved Kukri knives.

After a review was carried out in 2010, British Prime Minister David Cameron's Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government said it would cut 17,000 jobs from the army, navy and Royal Air Force over four years.

The review has also seen Britain give up its flagship aircraft carrier.

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