British Gurkhas and GCSPF Recruiting

Gurkha soldiers recruited from Nepal have served the British crown loyally since 1815. These exceptional soldiers have fought with distinction alongside British Regiments in many conflicts internationally since recruiting began. Most recently Gurkhas have played key roles during operations in the Balkans, East Timor, Sierra Leone, Afghanistan and Iraq.

The British Gurkha Camp in Pokhara is the focal point for all recruiting activities in Nepal and in December each year the culmination of procedures sees 256 young men being selected. Of these 256, approx 176 will go to the British Army and 80 to the Gurkha Contingent of the Singapore Police Force. A very large number of interested individuals causes considerable competition for the relatively few places. The standards looked for by very experienced recruiting staff are extremely high and the process is very demanding for potential recruits. Selection of only the very best candidates and insistence on the highest standards is a direct reflection of the challenging circumstances in which British soldiers may find themselves; a dangerous world that demands of servicemen adaptability, robustness and determination. The selection process is purely merit-based. The recruiting process was reviewed in 2009/10 and it is more focused on educational capabilities rather than hill boy.

Final selection is determined by a number of physical and mental assessments, which demonstrate the potential of an individual to be trained as a soldier in the Brigade of Gurkhas. Only those who demonstrate this raw potential and those with the strongest assessment statistics will be accepted.

British Army Recruiting

The Gurkha recruiting process is one of the toughest of any Army in the world. Our soldiers are selected from amongst many thousands of hopeful applicants. The process begins in the hills of Nepal where retired Gurkha soldiers tour around remote villages conducting initial screening tests. All applicants must meet certain basic standards of education, fitness and health. If successful, they will be given a pass to attend the next stage.

Retired Gurkha Officers will then hold a number of selection days across the country.

They will set up a camp in the fields outside a village, and the candidates will come forward. Each and every hopeful recruit will give his all, be it in heaves, sit ups or maths exams.

The criteria are strict, and no weakness goes unnoticed. All who make it through this stage are good enough to be soldiers in the British Army, but not all will make it, as the final hurdle still remains.

Only some 700 make it to the last stage in the process, known as Central Selection. The candidates report to the recruiting depot in Pokhara in Western Nepal and spend 2 weeks being put through their paces.

The most gruelling assessment test is known as the doko race. Candidates complete a 2 mile race up a near vertical hill carrying 35kg of rocks in a basket, the weight borne by the traditional Nepalese carrying strap across the forehead. It is not for the faint hearted, but the potential recruits will hurtle round the course in only 20 minutes.

However, it is not all about brawn – brains are fully exercised as well. All candidates must have passed the Nepalese School Leaving Certificate, equivalent to between GCSE and A-Level standard in the UK.