Just say Gurkha

I tried posting this question elsewhere, but I think I selected the wrong forum and didn’t word my query very well. Here it goes again:

Since(A) Gurkhas are already acknowledged as some of the fiercest fighters in the world, and (B) this is their neck of the woods, or mountains as it were, and © AFAIK they still are a significant presence in the armies of our allies the Brits, then can we expect them to make a disproportionate contribution to the coming Afghan war?

In the other forum, I thought it was kind of curious that I seemed to be attacked as a racist for thinking that Gurkhas are very well suited for this kind of hand-to-hand, cave-to-cave, altogether bloody kind of battle. I dunno, if it’s racist to think of the (historical) Gurkha, Hmong, Maori, Zulu, and Spartans as superior fighters by virtue of their backgrounds, then color me guilty.

As a separate question, this started me thinking that since America supposedly has weak political will to see its soldiers being killed, maybe it’s time to institute a figurative “Gurkha” program of our own, perhaps offering immigrant visas as an incentive after X years of service. This program would be open to foreign nationals of any extraction, would not necessarily mandate “segregated” troops, and would require the foreign troops to be held to a certain level of conduct. Framed in these terms, would an American “Gurkha” program or an “American Foreign Legion” be a good idea?

The thing is, we don’t really need a foreign legion. The point of a foreign legion is to get people to fight for you, but not let them integrate themselves into your society. After all, the are foreigners. But America doesn’t have a problem integrating foreigners, we are happy to accept them. You can come here, become an american citizen, and join the military no problem.

Heck, you can even join the military if you’re a resident alien. And that cuts the waiting time down for naturalization.

So there’s a bit of a precedent, huh?

As for Lemur866’s argument, I don’t think it’s quite so easy for (say) a Nepali to become an American citizen or resident, or even to come here as a tourist. And all I can do is restate my premise: given that (A) there are foreigners (though potential citizens) willing to fight for and pledge loyalty to us, and (B) there’s (arguably) too high a political cost to putting any substantial number of American soldiers in harm’s way, then don’t we have a matching of needs here?

BTW, nobody’s yet answered my question regarding whether the Gurkhas will play a significant role in the coming war.

As was said before, the Gurkhas are an infantry force, not some kind of mythical special forces supermen. There are many other infantry forces trained to operate in mountainous terrain (the SAS has Mountain Troops, the US Army has the 10th Infantry Division (Mountain)). Don’t get hung up on the admittedly very successful PR myth about Gurkhas. Highly professional soldiers, yes. But that’s all. Same goes for the Legion Etrangere: a volunteer infantry unit (although they have armour too) perhaps more highly motivated and trained than others, but not invulnerable killing machines beyond normal military procedure.

Regarding your specific questions: the Gurkhas are unlikely to take part since they’re not part of the British forces already in place. They are an infantry unit trained to operate like any other in the British Army. That’s all.

Oh, and you may want to rethink your last post, since it sounded horribly like ‘hey, let the non-Americans fight and die for us so our lads don’t have to’.

Why should I rethink a d_mned thing if nobody’s providing arguments to the contrary? Since we’re now in the GD zone, I hope you’re capable of submitting some sort of reasoning to back up your assertions.

In my scenario, would we be forcing anyone to fight and die for us? Or wouldn’t we have more than enough volunteers? Don’t many, many boat people and other refugees risk their lives to get to America anyway? Why don’t we just organize the process and probably make it quite a bit safer to boot?

Remember, if you disagree with this idea, you have to tell us why. Take your time, I understand.

As for the Gurkhas themselves, again I patiently repeat (from the other thread): I never said the Gurkhas are supermen. What I did say or imply was, since (A) Gurkhas are already acknowledged as some of the fiercest fighters in the world, and (B) they are presumably very familiar with this kind of terrain, wouldn’t they make a disproportionate contribution to any ground campaign in which they played a major role? Sounds like a job for the Gurkhas to me.

There may indeed be some good reasons not to recruit a foreign army to support a citizenry at home, but I don’t think “yer a racist, nyah nyah nyah” quite makes the cut. I was hoping for someone to bring up the history of Rome. sigh

Some facts about the Gurkhas:

As a fighting force, there are only two active Gurkha battalions in the British Army. 1st Battalion The Royal Gurkha Rifles is based in Brunei as the Army’s Far East response force and jungle fighting unit. It’s still there and unlikely to move. 2nd Battalion RGR is based in Kent (not very mountainous or jungly, mind you) and is used to provide replacement troops for other units (including the Royal Irish Regiment, an unspecified Highland battalion and a battalion of the Parachute Regiment).

So, there aren’t many, and those there are are used as round-out troops for Britain’s rapid response units. Britain’s forces in the Gulf (not including the Navy and Air Force) are limited to 4 Armoured Brigade and supporting arms from 1 Armoured Division.

Hrm. Must’ve missed the bit where someone called you a racist.

What’s the point of having your own military if you’re going to hire mercenaries for any particularly dangerous missions? And, regardless of whether someone volunteers or not, wouldn’t you feel even slightly uneasy at suggesting that it’s okay to send someone non-American to fight and die for the security or interests of America when you yourself (meaning your own forces, not you personally) are too valuable to be risked?

What do you specialize in? Distortion of facts?

Nowhere did I compare the Legion Etrangierre (sp?) to the United States military’s admission into its ranks of Resident Aliens. A moment’s thought (I know, but I trust you can try) will show you that as far as the INS is concerned, someone who’s asked to immigrate to this land is (a) a foreign national, and (b) someone who’s asked to immigrate. Thus, the Resident Alien status. The presumption is that this status will be followed, in time, by the act of naturalization if and when the Resident Alien passes the necessary hurdles.

Okay, Mr. Hearst, those pre-WW2 laws have been revoked.

And the Embassy of the United States of America (located in Nepal), http://www.south-asia.com/USA/how_visa.htm, shows us that it is no more difficult than for any other citizen of a country not participating in the visa-waiver program to get a tourist visa.

This is, IMHO, rather prejudicial of you. The members of the United States military are considered to be members of the United States military regardless of their citizenship. There are restrictions on foreign nationals getting security clearances (generally not permitted) but then there are restrictions on US citizens getting security clearances.

It was in the other thread, now closed. Specifically, I was called a “racist bastard”.

Well, I guess it would be avoiding politically unpopular loss of live among my own citizens. We already use technology as a way of avoiding people killing each other one-on-one, but not every battle is going to be a minimum-casualty video game like the Gulf War. In the coming conflict in particular, it looks like some old-fashioned hand-to-hand fighting with knives and stuff is very likely.

If we’re talking about feelings, then I guess I feel slightly uneasy about war itself, in addition to expanded intelligence activities, greater surveillance of citizens at home, and racial profiling in security-sensitive areas like airports. I think almost everyone does, even the people who argue that these are necessary measures at times like these. A lot of unpleasant things go on in wartime; is this any more unpleasant than the other stuff? At least this would be easier to rationalize: the people fighting for us want to be fighting for us, and if they survive they’ll become American citizens, probably better citizens than we at home are.

So? A member of our presumed legion would be (A) a foreign national (B) wishing to immigrate to the US and © willing to risk his life fighting for us in the armed forces in order to speed up the process. You acknowledge that armed forces service is already used as a justification for speeding up the naturalization process. The only difference I can see is that the interim step of residency hasn’t taken place yet.

Yeah, right. It’s very apparent that you don’t have any non-Western friends who have gone through the often humiliating process of trying to get a visa to visit this great country. Especially an intending immigrant visa.

I don’t understand what point you’re trying to make here.

DR: There is a huge difference between a visitor’s visa and an immigration visa. That you can not, or will not, notice the difference is quite telling.

Do you have anything to contribute to the subject we’re debating here? It’s not easy for many residents of a foreign countries to get even an ordinary tourist visa (e.g., being required to show that they have investments, a full time job, and a large bank account back home) and nearly impossible to get an immigrant visa. Quit busting my chops.

The Romans had “foreigners” fight for them and ended up playing “Emperor for A Day” until some German guy nominated his son.
The Gurhkas are tough guys. The mutiny, the guy on leave for a wedding that killed a tiger with his knife and the guy who has releived that as paratroops they were going to be given parachites dome to mind.
They fought in the Falklands. The Argentines thought they took heads and surrendered on sight.

The biggest problem I have with the whole “let’s invite foreigners to come fight for us, and as a reward we’ll give them citizenship” idea is mainly a practical one. How would you ensure that once they’ve filled out the forms that say, “Yeah, I wanna KILL for Uncle Sam so’s I can get me a house in the 'burbs”, and once we’ve trucked them down to Fort Bragg for basic training, and issued them all rifles, how would you ensure that they stay at Fort Bragg and allow various sorts of D.I.s to shout obscenities at them and make them run 25 miles in full kit and do pushups in the rain?

What’s to prevent them from just going AWOL with all those shiny new M-16s?

Also, how would you screen for Osama Bin Laden’s friends, who would probably thoroughly enjoy the experience of learning all about American battle and anti-terrorist tactics and capabilities from the Americans themselves?

As posted in the other thread, Nepal is no where near Afganistan, the Gurkha’s do not share a common language with the Pashtun’s or other Afganistan people, do not share a religion, and AFAIK the Gurkha’s share no ethnicity with the Afganis. So, the Gurkha’s would be foreigners in a strange land and not possess an advantage over other elite fighting forces.

An ex-colleague of mine was a British Gurkha officer when I worked at Swiss Bank Corporation. There are still hundreds of Gurkha’s in Hong Kong, and most of them provide private security.

Off topic slightly, Gurkha’s were also used during the Korean war, although AFAIK that was never publicly acknowledged. My father relates the story of when he was in Korea in a foxhole on the front line, one night on duty he suddenly had a knife at his throat, someone patted his helmet, laughed quietly and said “Yankee.” The next morning, all of the opposing forces about 50 meters away, were dead from cut throats and no one heard a thing.

Of course the Ghurkas have experience fighting the Afghans, at the northwest frontier of British India. When the British left India, they took some Ghurka regiments with them, while others remained in the Indian army.

Will the modern British Ghurkas fight the Taliban? From the posts above, it looks like they are as liable to do so as any other British soldiers, no more or less.

Will India’s Ghurkas fight the Taliban? Hell no. We will do everything to keep India out of this war, just as we did to keep Israel out of the Gulf war.

Gurkha’s aren’t Indian. They’re from Nepal.
They are also in the region (in Oman) on exercise so are available as any other ground options.
I also don’t go for the mythology too much although, having spent a little time with the Nepali people, I do believe they are amongst the most hardy people on the planet. They are relatively short – especially short-legged – which helps the centre of gravity when you spend your entire life walking up or down (which they do), they’ve carried a lot of weight on their backs all their lives and they understand the mountainous terrain and general environment better than anyone.

I doubt there are better mountain troops – the forces in Afghanistan might be their equal on natural ability but military training, discipline, personal fitness levels, equipment and support give the Gurkha’s a considerable edge, IMHO.

I heard that story about Korea except it was “OK Joe” and they were Turks.