UK troops to return from Germany


Click to follow
The Independent Online

Hundreds of British troops will return from Germany in January, the Government confirmed today.

Ministers said 1,800 soldiers would leave bases in the Rhineland and return to the UK.

The first unit to come home will be 43 Close Support Squadron of the Royal Logistic Corps, which will move from Gutersloh, Germany, to Abingdon in Oxfordshire by the end of January.

Military chiefs will send two returning units to former RAF bases at Cottesmore in Rutland and Kinloss in Scotland.

The bases had been mothballed under previous defence decisions but will become home to hundreds of soldiers next year.

The 2nd Battalion The Royal Anglian Regiment will move from Cyprus to Cottesmore in July, while 39 Engineer Regiment (Air Support) will move from Waterbeach near Cambridge to Kinloss in the summer.

Ministers announced plans to relocate troops and pull out of Germany, where the British Army has had a presence since the end of the Second World War in 1945, as part of the Strategic Defence and Security Review in October last year.

Half of all UK forces in Germany will be back in Britain by 2015 and the rest by 2020, in a move estimated to save £250 million a year and pump £650 million into the British economy as forces and their families spend cash locally rather than abroad.

Armed Forces Minister Nick Harvey said: "The Defence Transformation announcement in July 2011 identified a number of key objectives, including the long-term plan to bring the Army back from Germany, a basing laydown for the RAF and the Royal Navy, the sale of sites no longer required, and the plan to place Army units in Kinloss by 2014/15.

"These announcements demonstrate the Government and Army is taking forward this programme for change."

He added: "This programme will ensure fit-for-purpose infrastructure is in place to support both military operations and service personnel and their families.

"These preliminary moves will also ensure any gap in occupation of the sites at Kinloss and Cottesmore is kept to a minimum.

"The strategic objective remains to deliver a coherent and affordable defence capacity in 2020 and beyond."

Head of the Army General Sir Peter Wall, chief of the general staff, said: "The new basing arrangements announced today allow the Army to reinforce vital links with local communities in the UK, as well as continuing to provide a high level of support to our soldiers and their families.

"This will include working closely with our counterparts in the RAF to maintain the links they have established as we replace them in some locations."

The Government also revealed the 2nd Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment will move from Cyprus to Pirbright in Surrey in July 2013.

A statement from the MoD said the relocations meant Waterbeach Barracks will be sold and two bases in Germany given back to the Germans, with the Rheindahlen Military Complex closing.

It added: "Troop numbers in Cyprus will remain unchanged as 2nd Battalion The Royal Anglian Regiment and 2nd Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment are being replaced by other infantry battalions."

The Scottish National Party's Westminster leader, Moray MP Angus Robertson, said: "It is welcome that the Army will move to Kinloss. However, the base will have a considerably reduced number of personnel.

"It is worrying that numbers will be 41% down on the RAF unit establishment total at Kinloss.

"Moray is the most defence-dependent constituency in the country and the local economy and community has suffered terribly because of MoD cuts.

"While welcoming the new army unit to Kinloss, many questions remain to be answered by the MoD."