British Army, 20th Armoured Infantry Brigade, Warrior Armoured Infantry Fighting Vehicle at Grafenwöhr, Germany (Crown Copyright, 2013)

Confirmed, 20th Armoured Infantry Brigade Will Leave Germany

Commander British Forces Germany Quashes Rumours That Army Will Stay

The new Commander British Forces Germany has confirmed that the British Army’s 20th Armoured Infantry Brigade will leave Germany. Speaking to Chris Pearson on Forces Radio BFBS, March 13, Brigadier Richard Clements, who takes over from Brigadier Ian Bell, said that rumours were “deeply unhelpful,” adding: “We’re working really hard to make sure that we get information out as we know it.”

Brigadier Clements will be the last Commander British Forces Germany (BFG), overseeing the drawdown beginning in 2019. Outlining his plans for the next two years, the Brigadier said, “We’ve got around 9,000 people that we’ll need to move to various different locations, predominantly the UK and those people need to be supported right the way through to the end.”

The majority of moves will take place over the school summer holiday period to minimise the effect on children’s education.

The End of British Forces Germany

According to the British Army website, it is the Government’s intention to rebase the British Army from Germany to the UK by 2020 in line with the announcement of the Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) of 2010. On the 4 November 2015, the Ministry of Defence confirmed that the final Field Army units will withdraw from Germany in 2019 in accordance with the Government’s SDSR 2010 commitment.

Celle Station, Münster Station and the Rheindahlen Military Complex have already closed.The final moves will take place in 2019 with remaining Field Army units – including elements of 20th Armoured Infantry Brigade — returning from Paderborn, Sennelager, Bielefeld and Gütersloh to the UK. Headquarters British Forces Germany will also close.

However, Some British Army Personnel Will Stay

Current planning provides for some personnel staying on in Germany, mostly in NATO bases. Several hundred soldiers will continue to serve in Germany and looking after their welfare after the drawdown will be another priority for the new commander.

“We’ve got to make sure that we set the conditions for those who will remain in all those isolated detachments, around 750 people including their families who are going to stay here in Germany,” Brigadier Clements said, adding,”We need to make sure that they get the right level of support to make sure that they’re looked after in the future.”

Although Army 2020 plans clearly set out the return of British soldiers to the UK, there has been considerable speculation that that may not be the case, especially as General Sir Nick Carter recently stated that he would be looking closely at situation. But Brigadier Clements had no doubts about current plans, saying, “To be clear, we need to follow the plan and the plan is that all major units will be back in the UK by 2020… that is the plan that I’m working to.”

Brigadier Clements intends to run a re-basing roadshow in Germany in September, involving the Army Families Federation (AFF) and UK local authorities, to keep soldiers informed of developments.

At an earlier AFF roadshow in September, 2016, it was revealed that there would be a small number of British military personnel left in Germany following rebasing. These would be working in NATO headquarters or as liaison officers, and in specialist training positions. Also under consideration for remaining were the Adventure Training facilities in Bavaria, the vehicle storage site at Ayrshire Barracks, Mönchengladbach, and 23 Amphibious Troop at Minden.

What’s Left of BFG?

Major concentrations of British Forces Germany are found at Bielefeld, Gütersloh and Paderborn, with HQ British Forces Germany at Catterick Barracks, Bielefeld. HQ 20th Armoured Infantry Brigade and HQ Paderborn Station are at Normandy Barracks, Paderborn.

26 Regiment Royal Artillery are currently based at Mansergh Barracks, Gütersloh (part of Bielefeld Station).

Paderborn remains home to 35 Engineer Regiment, 1st Battalion The Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment, 3 Armoured Close Support Battalion REME, at Barker Barracks; The Queen’s Royal Hussars, Athlone Barracks; and 1 Armoured Medical Regiment, Dempsey Barracks.

Other units include 23 Amphibious Engineer Troop and 412 Amphibious Engineer Troop, 75 Engineer Regiment, based in Minden, where they share facilities with the German Army (Deutches Heer) at Herzog von Braunschweig Kaserne.

Speculation about who will stay will no doubt be rife.

Image: A British Army Warrior Armoured Infantry Fighting Vehicle patrolling down the live firing range in Grafenwöhr, Germany, during Exercise BAVARIAN CHARGER, the first of three large contingency operation exercises undertaken by 20th Armoured Infantry Brigade between May and October in 2013.