Best Defense

Thomas E. Ricks' daily take on national security.

How tough are Gurkhas?

A friend who is a veteran journalist passes along this tale: Story goes that during WWII, the British Indian Army planned to drop a company of the toughest Gurkhas behind Japanese lines to help stop the oncoming invaders. A British major explained the plan to the Gurkha sergeant major, saying: “We’ll drop you from 600 ...

586213_090501_gurhka2.jpg
586213_090501_gurhka2.jpg

A friend who is a veteran journalist passes along this tale:

Story goes that during WWII, the British Indian Army planned to drop a company of the toughest Gurkhas behind Japanese lines to help stop the oncoming invaders. A British major explained the plan to the Gurkha sergeant major, saying: "We'll drop you from 600 feet."

The sergeant major talked to his troops, then went back to the major: "Sah, the men say 600 feet too high. They want to be dropped lower." The British major said: "All right, sergeant major, we'll make it 500 feet."

A friend who is a veteran journalist passes along this tale:

Story goes that during WWII, the British Indian Army planned to drop a company of the toughest Gurkhas behind Japanese lines to help stop the oncoming invaders. A British major explained the plan to the Gurkha sergeant major, saying: “We’ll drop you from 600 feet.”

The sergeant major talked to his troops, then went back to the major: “Sah, the men say 600 feet too high. They want to be dropped lower.” The British major said: “All right, sergeant major, we’ll make it 500 feet.”

The sergeant major spoke to his troops again, and again went back to the major: “Sah, the men say 500 feet is still too high and want to be dropped lower.” The major said: “Sergeant major, we could go down to 400 feet to drop you but that wouldn’t leave enough time for the parachutes to open.”

Sergeant major: “Ooohhh, paraaaachutes???”

By the way, the Gurkhas were the most decent people I encountered operating checkpoints in Iraq — professional but friendly.

florriebassingbourn/flickr

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at ricksblogcomment@gmail.com. Twitter: @tomricks1

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