Royal adieu to Gurkhas
By Grace Jiu & Kartika Rahman

His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam, Supreme Commander of the Royal Brunei Armed Forces (RBAF), visited the Brunei Garrison in Belait District yesterday to bid farewell to the soldiers and families of Second Battalion The Royal Gurkha Rifles (2 RGR).

The current British Battalion resident in Brunei will be returning to the UK between July and August to be replaced by the 1st Battalion The Royal Gurkha Rifles. Over 600 soldiers from the 2 RGR will depart the country.

His Majesty, who is also the Minister of Defence, met with various dignitaries including Brunei Garrison Commander and Commanding Officer of 2 RGR, Lieutenant Colonel C D Wombell, Royal Gurkha Rifles, and Mr John Saville, British High Commissioner to Brunei, among others. Also present was RBAF Commander Major General Pehin Dato Seri Haji Awang Halbi.

His Majesty inspected the Royal Honour Guard and later presented long service and good conduct medals to three soldiers for 15 years of distinguished exemplary service.

His Majesty then proceeded to observe battalion training activities and capabilities accompanied by the Commanding Officer.

The first stand displayed snipers, trackers, mortars and boat capabilities. His Majesty also fired a baton round hitting a far away target, which was commended as a good shot.

His Majesty went to the Operation Herrick Stand that had a photo display of Afghanistan operational deployment of the outgoing 2 RGR in both Kabul and North Afghanistan. Later, His Majesty witnessed a crowd riot control demo showing rebellious civilians hurling stones at the peacekeeping force, which was retaliated by a team of soldiers who released tear gas during the scuffle signified by a loud bang.

His Majesty then viewed a weapon system of the support company that showed future capabilities and the latest weaponry. His Majesty took a closer look at a laser range finder, which allows long-range vision and focuses on a target by adjusting accordingly. His Majesty also sent an order via a voice communication device to destroy an enemy 'target' (an elevated white water tower), which led to a mortar-wielding team destroying the target. It was a mock exercise.

Upon arrival at a Nepalese cultural demo stand, His Majesty was greeted by a little Nepalese girl in her colourful cultural costume who put a yellow garland around His Majesty. His Majesty then viewed a Nepalese cultural demonstration such as displays of musical instruments, household and religious items. His Majesty then saw a graceful and upbeat eastern Nepalese dance called 'Tamang Sello' performed by several young children of Hornbill School, which brought smiles on His Majesty's face. The dance moves were taught by coach Bishnu Rasaily.

His Majesty later consented to receive a 'pesambah', a stand for the Quran designed by a high ranking officer of the Second Battalion.

His Majesty's visit concluded with a group photo session followed by a reception where the ruler mingled with some 100 invited soldiers representing different companies of 2nd Battalion The Royal Gurkha Rifles, and departments under Brunei Garrison - Borneo Bulletin (8th June 2006)