The Times: British Army’s exit from Germany delayed over Russia threat9 September 2018 | 02:35 | FOCUS News Agency
The defence secretary has decided to tear up plans to withdraw all forces from Germany by 2020, and will keep forward bases on the central European plain.
Williamson will issue a stark warning to Vladimir Putin at the Conservative Party conference this month after intelligence chiefs and military commanders told him Russia was at its most dangerous since the end of the Cold War.
More than 200 servicemen and 400 family members will not be coming home as planned in the next year. Those due to remain in Germany include an engineering regiment that is Nato’s leading unit for river crossings, enabling tanks to go into battle where bridges have been destroyed.
The regiment, which deploys the M3 amphibious vehicle, is jointly operated by the army and its German counterpart, the Bundeswehr. The army will also retain the 45-square-mile Sennelager military training area near the city of Paderborn.
The facility is used to practise tank battles and “large-scale” manoeuvres with infantry and armoured vehicles. It includes an urban warfare training centre and armoured vehicle simulators.
About 200 British military personnel and defence civil servants and up to 400 family members will stay behind in Germany and be based at Normandy and Athlone barracks in Sennelager.
The Ministry of Defence (MoD) also plans to retain the British Army’s armoured vehicle storage depot at Monchengladbach, which can hold about 2,000 tanks, armoured vehicles and trucks. A fleet of armoured vehicles is expected to be based at the depot, to be activated during a crisis.
MoD officials say Williamson wants to send a message to Russia that Britain is committed to the defence of Europe after Brexit and to Germany that it needs to invest more in defence — but he also thinks it better that British assets remain on the frontline rather than rotting in barracks in the UK.
A senior source said: “Gavin will say more on this at conference. One of the big things is the readiness of our armed forces. We have certain assets in Germany which we want to more actively maintain. There’s equipment which helps with water crossings that we want to keep over there.
“He will explain the thinking behind that as we adapt to the new threat. Having armed forces sat around in barracks in the United Kingdom is not the most productive or useful place to have them.”
The source added: “Part of it is about making Germany do more. We’ve been pushing Germany to increase its defence spending.”
Williamson’s intervention comes after General Sir Nick Carter, the chief of the defence staff, used a speech in January to warn that Russia “represents the most complex and capable state-based threat to our country since the end of the Cold War”.
He called the joint engineering regiment “a very good example of how you can burden share and deliver more capability”.
Carter added: “We are actively examining the retention of our infrastructure in Germany.”
A defence official said: “The threat from the East is not going away. We are rethinking the drawdown in Germany.”
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