The head of the Army has suggested that withdrawal from Germany could be halted so that troops can maintain quick access to Eastern Europe in the event of Russian hostilities.

General Sir Nick Carter said that the threat from Russia meant that the Ministry of Defence is considering retaining bases in Germany that troops are set to withdraw from by 2020.

He made the announcement in a speech delivered at the Royal United Services Institute:

“Our ability to pre-empt or respond to threats will be eroded if we don’t keep up with our adversaries.

The threats we face are not thousands of miles away but are now on Europe’s doorstep. We have seen how cyber-warfare can be both waged on the battlefield and used to disrupt normal people’s lives. We in the UK are not immune from that.

We must take notice of what is going on around us or our ability to take action will be massively constrained. Speed of decision-making, speed of deployment and modern capability are essential if we wish to provide realistic deterrence.”

General Carter said when it comes to threats, it is important to recognise that “readiness is about speed of recognition, speed of decision-making and speed of assembly.”

He said the Army is testing the ability to deploy over land by using road and rail, but that it is “also important to stress the need for a forward mounting base.”

“Therefore we are actively examining the retention of our infrastructure in Germany, where we store our vehicles in Ayrshire Barracks in Rheindahlen, and our training facilities in Sennelager, as well as our heavy equipment transporters that are based there, and our stockpiling and ammunition storage,” he revealed.

42 COMMENTS

  1. We need a bigger army and more kit for this to have any meaning. Where hardly getting by with are current numbers but with the suggested cut of 14,000 with three armoured units, we wouldn’t have any forces to base in Germany.

      • It is, there is no way that they are going to cut 14k troops. I am pretty sure its the case of leaking over blasted bad news early, to make the real news sound good in comparison, which will probably be a cut of a few thousand, maybe 5.

  2. Respond to the Russian threat with what exactly??? A handful of 20yr old Challenger 2s? After years and years of savage cuts, we hardly worry the Kremlin these days…..

    • And while the British Army is at it maybe Germany can start taking part in defending her interests instead of outsourcing it to other nations while hiding behind their WW2 shame.

      It really is disturbing that despite being the biggest and by far richest country on the continent they seem to have completely given up on their armed forces.

    • Don’t write off the Challanger, it might be 20 years old but MBT tech has not jumped forward in that period and so it can still stand its own. What the UK really offers its european allies though is the Apache combined with combat heavy lift to get troops into position fast. Plus very good survalliance assets.

      • Hi Steve,

        Oh don’t get me wrong – the Challenger is an awesome piece of kit but we have so few now it’s a disgrace! We now suffer from a shear lack of critical mass right across the Armed Forces – shambolic!

      • The Challenger 2 is fine so long as it doesn’t come up against opponents with either modern attack helicopters or modern top attack ATGMs. If/When it does it will be a massacre.

  3. At last, the penny has dropped! Why disband our German bases if the Russian threat is increasing? I’m sure the Germans would want the UK forces especially, the army, to be on the ground and ready to deploy than wait days for enough fighting personnel and equipment to arrive in theater. The only big issue is the numbers of UK MBT’s to make a real difference.

    • We need to go back to pre 1990 manpower and own the kit not lease stop sales of disposal and management needs aboot up the arse

  4. Maurice I am sure the Germans would want the UK forces on the ground and ready to deploy and we would be total fools to do so. Germany last year spent 1.26% of GDP on defence so with their relaxed attitude to Ivan I suggest we think more of our own narrow national self interest first. This should focus naturally as an island nation on rebuilding the RN and RAF.
    Then with the politics of BREXIT perhaps as the Germans who run the EU talk of solidarity and their 4 sacred principles we explain the implications of their hard bargaining. The potential impact to the UK economy (as well the broader EU) will force us to reduce our military still further and to concentrate purely on home defence. We can then suggest they rely on the new EU army rather than ours and the US.
    We could of course offer to maintain our forces in Europe at a similar price as their proposed fee to access the single market. The groundwork is being laid for this approach currently by some of our politicians and those of influence in Europe.
    By the way I totally support our armed forces and the cuts of recent years have been catastrophic but our Army is our least effective arm and pretty much always has been. We should be more worried about our Navy with insufficient escorts, subs, mine warfare vessels etc and the RAF currently with no MPA’s.
    Personally I am also not convinced that the Russians are a real threat and it seems to me they are responding to the EU’s and NATO’s march eastwards. That is not to say that their Government is not a thoroughly horrible undemocratic bunch who really belong in the 19th Century. That the head of the Army is emphasising the risk is largely because our Army cannot see a role for itself after two cataclysmic wars where without help we would have been defeated. Of course we all see a role for the Army but in the modern era where politicians seem to lack a basic understanding of what the military is for, I too would be worried if I were head of the Army.

    • Sir, your perspective is somewhat narrow in regards to the UK retaining its land forces in Germany. I don’t see the retention of forces and Germany’s attitude towards Brexit, as being relevant. What we are talking about here is a raw situation, where the danger to Europe’s inner borders is immediate. In such a situation, Britain’s focus must be on defending its interests, not at Europe’s west coast, but by confronting adventurous Russian forces at its own border. Suggesting Russia has no real intent in causing mischief, is to ignore its behavior up to this point. Russia will continue to operate its forces (covertly or otherwise) outside its borders just as it did in Georgia, Ukraine, and Syria. It now has a taste for direct intervention and is developing its military with new class-leading equipment, and in so doing, will create a tour de force, which unmatched, could compromise our current technologies. We must learn from history, that potential growing threats must be confronted steadfastly, and with a keen will.

  5. I think we should move out of Germany and Germany should be forced to increase their defence spending to NATO standards

    The UK should be committed to re-in forcing Europe in the event of an attack and to ensure the Northern flank is protected, both on sea and land.

    I do not subscribe to the view that we should have bases in Europe when Europe is hardly that supportive of the UK (and hasn’t been for some time in reality).

    We can best support our European allies through strong air, naval and cyber forces with our land forces being expeditionary focus.

    To facilitate this we should at increase (at least double) our F35 and Apache orders and also commit to a larger escort fleet and minesweeping capabilities (Atlas) including a high end ballistic defence system operating from an improved T45/T26 fleet and improved Cyber and SFG capabilities.

    What we dont need to do is maintain a mainland European base – as surely this should be done by those who frankly have not been pulling their weight in NATO For some time.

    • Well said Pacman. Spot on. The Germans quite frankly take the piss with their almost useless military capability that’s continually shrinking and no political will what so ever to get their hands dirty.

      The Europeans don’t take Defence seriously and don’t invest anyway near what they should to support NATO.

      To add to this pathetic show, they want to further dilute these asset’s by building an EU military alliance….

      If the unthinkable ever happened and this underfunding carries on as it has since the end of the Cold War, Putin could probably take a leisurely drive to the channel coast in a Lada, and there would be precious little to stop him…!

      With this as a backdrop, we should have our assets in the UK and make real investment in the rapid reaction.

      • Come on John, I know your rant is a little tongue in cheek, but with the possible formation of a unified EU military organization, German will have to provide the lions share. They may not know that at this juncture, but that’s the way the cookie will crumble. In many ways, a European force would address the issues, that have confronted NATO in recent years and that’s over-reliance on the US. I feel sure that once this new force is established the US will revisit its NATO commitments, and that will be a very interesting period in our ongoing history.

        • OK Maurice, a little tongue in cheek …Putin wouldn’t be seen dead in a Lada!

          But seriously, an EU military force will basically be France (90% of its potential capability), Germany has let its military capability free fall to the point of being almost totally ineffective.

          The likes of Poland will stay 100% loyal to NATO, they know what side their breads buttered on!

          An EU military structure will be nothing but a damp fart of political posturing, with no substance behind it …
          Good luck fending off the Russian bear when Uncle Sam has finally had enough of bank rolling all this and left the Europeans to it…

          Just my jaundiced opinion of course….

          • I’m not sure which countries are involved, but I do believe Hungary is one who will actually embed its force (or in part) into Germany’s land forces! I must admit this came as a surprise, and this trend could also become an attractive option for many more states? Interestingly, it appears that Germany will be the host, and that in itself, should cause a few ripples?? It now appears that the military status quo in Europe is rapidly changing and possibly, not in a constructive direction? Yes I know a copious use of question marks

    • It would simply be part of our foreign budget to Germany I’m sure the Germans would be grateful at least when they stopped laughing ! The thing to remember about brass like Carter is that they have never gotten over the closure of Rheindahlen. It represented everything they wanted from their army. It cost a fortune provided no military capability whatsoever and kept the combat elements of the Army permanently starved of cash. Throughout numerous defence reviews regiments, battalions and equipment programs were scrapped but Rheindahlen sailed through them all. His predecessors lied point blank to PM’s and Def Secs throughout it all. If you want to know how the brass thinks google Rheindahlen.

    • My thoughts exactly.

      We are leaving the EU and the balance of our trade is going to shift global. And we will have finshing grounds to guard. We need a bigger RN and RAF, the lions share of our defence budget should be invested here. Army should be based in UK and used for national defence, disaster relief and expedition force under carefully controlled circumstances.

  6. Not much use having those carriers if the aim is Russia. I to don’t feel Russia is a big threat to Europe essentially it’s trying to claw back the former USSR countries ir influence them as NATO pushed eastwards after 1991.

    • Vital as a deterrent on the northern flank to stop any rush over the top. Take Norway and that closes the Baltic, puts fighters in range of Denmark without refuelling and cruise missiles target UK at will.

      • Surely Russia wouldn’t do this. Any invasion on northern/western Europe could potentially mean the use of tactical nukes on which no one wins.

        I think the idea of this happening is way off the mark but obviously the generals want more money.

        Russia may be a little backward but they aren’t stupid.

        • Agree. Putin is smart. He will use fake news etc in a divide and conquer strategy to foment discontent among ethnic Russians in the Baltics and Eastern Europe and then send in his ‘volunteers’ to help the Russian nationalist rebels. Ukraine is the model. We must do what we are doing; offer support to these late starting democracies, the presence of our troops, armour and air forces.

  7. we spent over 250m in feeding camp bastion alone.

    trust me, cuts are coming.

    The UK’s propaganda machine will be working harder than ever before to project our power while cuts are happening.

  8. Bring the entire British Army home from Germany, the Germans for too long have hidden behind NATO and we have provided their protection, allowing them to invest in infrastructure, education, healthcare etc.
    It is high time we brought the Army back to bases in the UK to help protect this country and allowed our EU allies to experience the reality of European defence which is even more hollowed out and missing then our own.
    Might save a few hundred million £ a year not to base armoured units in Germany.

  9. I believe a realisitic working assumtion is that Putin wants the Ukraine and the Baltic states back in the Russian fold. We should plan and resource accordingly.

    • Could be a glimmer of hope .. Just perhaps …
      As an example, Its very difficult to fathom the reasoning that led to a requirement for only 7 SSN’s … Obviously, “way” short of the real number required and a judgment call that has seriously compromised our national defence more than any other single cut in my opinion.

      And yet it happened, can you imagine the Government saying we can only afford 10 major NHS Hospitals and closing the rest, the country would be in absolute pleasure uproar and rightly so!

      Here lies the issue, any government of any colour will only seriously invest in what gets them re-elected.

      Neither party give a toss about our defence, full stop.

      I feel sure (despite the spin that will be put on any reversal of planned cuts), it will largely be down the US telling those in power here to stop taking the piss !

      • ‘And yet it happened, can you imagine the Government saying we can only afford 10 major NHS Hospitals and closing the rest, the country would be in absolute pleasure uproar and rightly so!’

        I can only reply by saying if it were a Labour government making these cuts the press would be rightly highlighting it.

  10. I am a bit surprised by the lack of control shown by General Nick Carter, especially when he categorically states where we have based significant assets – such as tank transporters etc at an open forum presentation. Yes, the World probably knows where we base significant assets etc, but to confirm it smacks of hypocrisy if not a little treasonous. To get a single Challenger2 along with its upgraded armour package ammunition and fuel is major logistically undertaking (70t). It is feasible for the Chally to drive the distance, if it’s any significant distance, you would have burned through a shed load of diesel. But more importantly the tracks will need maintenance to ensure they haven’t loosened. Therefore, if cruise missile is targeted at the sheds where the transporters are stored in a first strike package, imagine how damaging this will be to our Army in trying to counter a armoured thrust from the east.

    The Russians have developed the T14 Armata. This is basically an assault tank, as the design is focused around armour and it is fitted with an Active Protection System (APS). The armour and APS is designed to counter Kinetic rounds and Anti Tank Guided Missiles (ATGM). However, when studying the Armata the APS is focused to protect the front and forward side quarters, not the top or the rear. So a top attack Brimestone/Hellfire may knock it out. One of the best course of actions to disable the tank is by using sniper teams. The Armata has moved all it crew out of the turret into a protected cell below and in front of the turret, making the Commander and Gunner wholly reliant on using Electro Optics to detect targets. If the sniper targets these, it makes the tank effectively blind. Because of their low down position in front of the turret, they will find it very difficult to detect targets using the old method of sticking their heads out of the hatch.

    The Chally is an awesome piece of kit and was sorely missed in Afghan. The Life Extension Program should be seen as a stop gap only, as to be fair the tank needs replacing. There is still life in the MBT, I think the Merkava is a very good example of the path to follow, especially as it has successfully operated in an urban conflict. It also shows how good APS has become, as the Trophy system is now battle tested, showing that it can protect the tank whilst operating in built up areas. Just need Qinetiq to develop their ElectroThermal Chemical munitions and we may be able to develop a new tank gun.

    • Would not make economic sense to drive a tank long distance, tracks , running gear and power packs are expensive.Perhaps they should move them to Poland, with a 65 to 70 ton vehicle you are limited to the bridges you can cross. when Germany builds its new tank Russia will be fitting their new 152 mm gun to counter the threat

  11. Most of the former BAOR has already returned.

    Only 20 Armoured Infantry Brigade remains in Sennelager and Paderborn.

    I note that the CGS does not actually say retaining units in place in Germany but the infrastructure, thus the Sennelager training area, , the Wulfen storage site which I thought had already closed, and the CHE storage facilities for vehicles and kit at Munchengladbach.

    Many of the HET’s are already in the UK at Bulford with 19 TT Squadron following return of the 4th and 7th Armoured Brigades.

    The retention of the CHE site at Ayrshire Barracks Munchengladbach is not a new suggestion, as this has been mooted for years already given the planned closure of the main vehicle storage depot for the UK military at Ashchurch.

    Personally I would bring the forces back to the UK as planned but keep the above mentioned sites on C&M if needed.

    As for this talk of the Russian threat, this is the army’s version over the panic over the LPD’s and RM before Christmas. All the services will make their pitch and it is interesting we have not had the RAF’s entry in yet.

    • To close the Ashchurch storage site would leave you the problem of where do you store all those vehicles, you would have to build a new facility which would not be cost effective. One daft idea was to move them back to Munchengladbach Germany, this would be at enormous cost. Looks like someone’s chum wants the land to build houses on and doesn’t care if the tax payer picks up a huge bill while making him or her rich!

      • Spot on. Nuts isn’t it? I’d read Bicester was mooted as that site has the hangerage but not CHE buildings. Ashchurch had / has around 7000 vehicles, boats and plant.

        As it has railway access too seems plain wrong to close it.

  12. I joined the British Army in 1978 and left in 2005. My first tour was Germany. Hohne Bergen Belsen to be precise.
    After spending 11 years being part of a Force defending Germany, I personally couldn’t give a t055 any more about Europe.
    The way the Europeans treat us Brits sours the time I spent working my ar5e off.
    Pull the Troops out once and for all and let Europe get on with building their EU Defence Force but please leave us out of the equation. 70 years we have kept Europe safe along with USA and for what. We have created stability, jobs, wealth off the backs of our Troops and Government but to the Germans, Belgique, French and yes the Dutch, this doesn’t matter one iota. Time to go guys. We shouldn’t stay where we are no longer welcome. Let them deal with the Russians first.

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