Defence Secretary Philip Hammond is to announce details of where troops withdrawing from Germany will be re-housed in the UK.

Some 16,000 troops and their families will be moved back to the UK over the next five years.

The reorganisation will cost about £2bn and it will see some UK bases expanded, while others will close.

The pull-out has been accelerated as part of the defence cuts announced by the government.

There has been a British army presence in Germany for nearly 70 years. Since the plan to withdraw was announced, 4,000 troops have already moved back to the UK.

‘Big change’

BBC defence correspondent Jonathan Beale said much of the £2bn would be spent on new Army accommodation and offices. The government is set to save £240m a year, the cost of keeping British troops in Germany.

British troops in Germany

  • It is the British army’s largest overseas contingent
  • Troops have been there since the end of WWII and forces grew during the Cold War
  • The British Army of the Rhine and Royal Air Force (Germany) disbanded in the mid-1990s. Troop levels were reduced by half
  • British Forces Germany is the composite name for the British army, remaining elements of the RAF, family members and supporting civilian personnel
  • They are situated mainly in the north-west of the country in an area roughly the size of Scotland. The German plains provide an excellent training environment
  • The major concentrations are: Herford Station – HQ 1st (UK) Armoured Division; Bergen-Hohne Garrison – 7th Armoured Brigade; Paderborn Garrison – 20th Armoured Brigade; Gütersloh Garrison – 102 Logistics Brigade; and Rhine Garrison – HQ British Forces Germany
  • They are in Germany for reasons of national and Nato security with the agreement and support of the German government, says the MoD

“Germany was good for training grounds but the Cold War is over and the Army is getting smaller,” he said.

Our correspondent says the reorganisation will focus on garrison towns such as Catterick and Colchester, and old RAF bases such as RAF Leuchars in Fife and RAF Kinloss in Moray.

There will be political ramifications from the announcement, he added, as Scotland is likely to get fewer troops than initially promised.

Under the 2010 strategic defence review, the government announced it wanted to withdraw all 20,000 troops, plus their families, by 2020.

Around 11,000 troops will return home by 2016 and the remaining 4,500 troops will be back in the UK by 2019, a year earlier than planned.

The pull-out has been accelerated because there were bigger cuts to the Army than originally planned, saving money which could be used for the relocation.

As part of wider defence cuts, the overall size of the Army is to be reduced from 102,000 troops to 82,000 by 2020.

Mr Hammond said the location changes would meet Britain’s defence needs in the future.

“As our forces get smaller in response to the decisions we took back in 2010 in the strategic defence review, it makes sense for us to review where we locate them, how we work together, making sure that we’re fully efficient and of course the Cold War is now long since over and the presence of our forces in Germany is something of an anomaly,” he said.

The government hopes the plans will mean more cash is ploughed back into the British, rather than German, economy as well as creating new construction jobs in the UK.

‘Hundreds of miles away’
Emma Coak and her family have been living in Paderborn for 11 years.

I moved here in my early 20s with a nine-year-old and will be leaving with four children – children who have never experienced life in the UK or had the pleasure of going to see nan and granddad for the weekend.

Plus there is nothing worse than your husband deploying to Iraq or Afghanistan and you are stuck in a strange country knowing your family are hundreds of miles away.

But there are also many things about Germany that I know I will miss too.

All in all, I’m looking forward to it. That does seem to be the consensus here.

All we want to know now is where and when.

Chief of the General Staff, General Sir Peter Wall, said it was a “big change” for the Army but the funding was in place for a well-organised transfer.

He also said there would be significant benefits for both soldiers and their families.

“I think the upside will be more stability, more predictability about where you are going to live and where our girlfriends, partner, spouses might end up,” he said.

Shadow defence secretary Jim Murphy said the country would welcome returning troops but people needed to know whether cuts were being made elsewhere to fund their relocation.

“There has already been a loss of military units and bases and there must be no smoke and mirrors over further closures,” he added.

The Scottish National Party has already voiced concerns that fewer troops will be re-based in Scotland.

In 2001, the UK government said up to 7,000 personnel would return to Scotland from Germany, with barracks and a training area being built.

In Wales, interest focuses on the future of Cawdor Barracks in Pembrokeshire, which houses 14th Signal Regiment, experts in electronic warfare, and the St Athan base in the Vale of Glamorgan.

BBC

Leave a Reply