Britain to withdraw 11,000 troops from Germany by 2016

British soldiers in Paderborn, Germany

From Nick Hopkins, Guardian:  More than 11,000 troops currently based in Germany will return to Britain within three years as part of a major restructuring of the army that will require ministers to spend £1bn on new military homes.

The announcement on Tuesday marks a sharp acceleration of the withdrawal of British forces in Germany, which have been stationed there since the end of the second world war.

However, Philip Hammond, the defence secretary, will provoke anger by announcing to MPs the closure of some smaller UK military bases, so the army can rebuild itself around seven major regional hubs.

The Scottish National party (SNP) will also be angered that only 600 of the soldiers returning will be stationed north of the border. That is a 20% increase on current numbers, but the SNP had hoped for thousands more.

The announcement should set out in detail how the army will manage the historic drawdown from Germany, where the British still have bases in 11 garrison towns, including Bielefeld and Paderborn.

Initially, the Ministry of Defence had proposed pulling troops out of Germany by 2020. But those plans, set out in the 2010 Strategic Defence and Security Review, had to be revisited because of further cuts to the defence budget.

Hammond will say that 11,000 soldiers will leave Germany by 2016, and the remaining 4,500 will come home in 2019. In addition, the MoD has to provide for the 17,000 relatives and support staff who are also currently in Germany.

The influx will mean the MoD has to spend £1bn on new accommodation – 1,900 family homes will be built, and 7,800 single rooms in new living quarters. Another £800m will be spent on refurbishing existing bases. . . .

An MoD source said the withdrawal would save the military £240m a year, and that the money for house-building should boost growth: "This will not only provide a boost to the economy, but also see the soldiers and their families benefit from new and upgraded accommodation.  (photo: Ben Birchall/PA)

Image: pa%203%205%2013%20British-troops-in-Germany.jpg