British army sends troops and tanks to Germany in major U-turn as Russia war fears flare

Russia: Owen Jones on 'violation of international law'

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Tanks and drones are to be deployed back to Germany under Government plans to build one of three key strategic bases in the country. It is believed NATO’s base in Sennelager, in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, will become a new base for one of the army’s land regional hubs.

Two more are planned in Kenya and Oman.

The Government announced in the Strategic Defence and Security Review in 2010 that it would return the British Army from Germany to the UK by 2020.

This was completed with the army’s surplus estate handed back to the German authorities.

Now the army wants to station a force of vehicles on the continent in the event of a war with Russia, which has been massing troops at its border with Ukraine.

Lieutenant General Ralph Wooddisse, commander field army, told The Times that the sites would enable the army to “spread more rapidly” and “be ready to deploy from those should it be required”.

He said: “I particularly emphasise Germany, where we are putting a substantial number of our armoured vehicles forward in order to be able to move more quickly should they be required anywhere on the continental land mass.”

Army sources have said that instead of basing everything in the UK and having to get across the Channel, they will be more forward-deployed so they do not have to put things on boats.

The force, which is reportedly the size of a brigade, will include hundreds of vehicles including upgraded Challenger 3 tanks, Boxer armoured fighting vehicles and the Ajax vehicle, which is subject to a review.

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Artillery vehicles, guns, demining vehicles, drones and tankers, are also among the equipment, according to army sources who said the fleet would operate across Europe, including in Estonia and Poland.

Under modernisation plans announced today, the regular army will shrink from 82,000 to 73,000 by 2025 with the Army Reserve boosted to 30,100.

The British Army is currently made up of 112,000 regular and reserve soldiers.

Lieutenant General Wooddisse described the plans as the most radical change for the British Army in 20 years.

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He said: “If I’m honest, the army of today doesn’t look vastly different to the army of the end of the Second World War and it hasn’t been tested in anger since then.

“It seems inconceivable to me that structure, that equipment and the way of fighting will work the next time we are tested.

“What we are proposing today is an army that will stand a much better chance of being successful in the wars of tomorrow rather than the wars of yesterday.”

One change sees the creation of a new Ranger Regiment which forms part of a Army Special Operations Brigade to be deployed alongside other forces around the world to counter extremist organisations and threats from hostile states.

The new regiment’s cap badge, inspired by the peregrine falcon, has come under fire as hundreds of Twitter users flagged its resemblance to the Nazi Eagle, known as the Reichsadler, and the badge of the Selous Scouts, an Apartheid death squad.

Twitter user The Perennial Captain commented: “Well, that’s truly horrid. Really rather awful. Embarrassing. I hope someone has the confidence to admit what mistake that is.”

The Ministry of Defence rejected the claims, saying while the Ranger Regiment’s badge was designed around a peregrine falcon, the Selous Scouts’ badge depicted an osprey.

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