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Soldier recruitment

The Gurkha recruiting process is one of the toughest of any Army in the world and soldiers are selected from the 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.

Selection process

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.

Qualifications and training

Joining the regiment 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.

If successful, the new recruit will be kitted out and flown to Catterick in North Yorkshire to undergo training in the Gurkha Wing of the Infantry Training Centre. In his 8 months training, the new soldier will not only learn military skills, but will also pass English language exams.

As he passes out of recruit training, he can be justifiably proud of what he has achieved, but every new soldier joins his battalion knowing just how hard he will have to work to live up to the reputation that his forefathers have built.

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