Britain Extends Military Presence in Germany Way Past Brexit
Under a 2010 plan, Britain was supposed to end its permanent military presence in Germany by 2019.
The UK government has reversed a plan to end its military presence in Germany by 2019, and is extending it beyond 2020, against the backdrop of the rapidly approaching Brexit date of March 29 next year.
While the British military presence in Germany has nothing to do with the two country’s membership in the EU, and dates back to the end of World War II and the start of the Cold War, the decision of the UK authorities could be construed in line with London’s stated desire to remain heavily involved with Europe’s security after Brexit, not least against the backdrop of Russia’s military resurgence.
Under the UK’s 2010 Strategic Defense and Security Review, permanent deployment to military bases in Germany was to end by 2019 with the exception of some training.
However, this has now been reversed, and around 185 British Army personnel and 60 Ministry of Defense civilians will remain in Germany even after the withdrawal of UK military has been completed, British Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson announced on Sunday.
“We are increasing our British points of presence across the world. We will not be closing our facilities in Germany, and instead use them to forward base the Army,” Williamson said in a statement released by the UK government.
The British Defense Ministry will retain the historic 45-square mile (117-square kilometer) Sennelager Training Area, which provides both UK and NATO forces with a live firing training area.
It is also going to provide support to NATO infrastructure and assets, including the combined river crossing capability based nearby in Minden, in the northeast of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW), just west of Hanover.
It uses M3 vehicles, self-propelled amphibious rigs jointly operated by British and German troops, with London and Berlin discussing a future bilateral upgrade of the vehicles, DW reports.
The British army is maintaining a presence at the Ayrshire Barracks in Mönchengladbach, where approximately 2,000 vehicles can be stored, and the German Wulfen Defence Munitions Storage Facility, which holds operational ammunition.
The current British military presence in Germany goes back to the British Army of the Rhine formed after the Second World War and developed with NATO after 1949. In 1967, it was reduced in strength to 53,000 soldiers.
In 1994, it was replaced by the 25,000-strong British Forces Germany. Until 2015 there were 5,200 British troops in Germany.
In September 2018, the US Army’s European headquarters in Wiesbaden, Germany, said another 1,500 American troops would be stationed in the European country by September 2020.
They will be added to the 33,000-strong US personnel stationed in some 36 military bases in Germany plus Navy and Marine Corps personnel at sea.
“The US decision to increase the military presence here in Germany is a welcome sign of the vitality of transatlantic relationship and a commitment to our joint security,” German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen commented at the time.
(Banner image: British Forces Germany)