The strength of the British Gurkha brigade has been increasing for the past four years, ever since the British authorities allowed the soldiers to serve for a maximum of 22 years, as compared to the limit of 15 years which was in place earlier. In 2009, the Gurkha veterans, who had served the British Armed Forces for more than four years, were allowed permanent residency in the United Kingdom.
The British Gurkha brigade was first set up in 1814, during the Anglo-Nepalese War. The Gurkha participation in the British Army peaked during the World War II, when more than 200,000 Nepalis fought for the British against the Axis powers. Close to 25% of them lost their lives during the war. Currently most of the Gurkhas serving in the British Armed Forces are distributed across units such as the Royal Gurkha Rifles, the British Gurkhas Nepal (BGN), and the Queen’s Gurkha Signals (QGS).
Recently, they have played an active role in conflicts such as the Falklands War, Gulf War, and various UN peacekeeping operations. In addition to the British Armed Forces, the Gurkhas also serve in the Gurkha Contingent of the Singapore Police Force, and in the Brunei Gurkha Reserve Unit. It should be noted that more than 100,000 Nepali citizens currently serve in the Indian Army, where there are a total of 7 Gurkha regiments, consisting of 39 battalions.
The British Gurkha recruits mostly belong to the Rai, Limbu, Gurung, and Magar tribes, who differ greatly from the ethnic Khas Nepali majority. The Rai, and Limbu are mostly Animist in religion, while the Gurung are Buddhist and the Magar are Hindu.