Military base shake-up announced

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UK army bases will be radically changed, with many bases closing over the next five years under new plans announced in the House of Commons on 5 March 2013.

Defence Secretary Philip Hammond told MPs that £1.8bn from the Ministry of Defence's existing budget will be spent on building new military bases in the UK to accommodate troops returning from Afghanistan and Germany.

The department had set aside £1bn to spend on brand new or refurbished accommodation for service families and single soldiers; while £800m would go on "technical infrastructure" such as offices, storage and training blocks.

MPs heard that the changes would save £240m a year in running costs as soldiers are moved into key locations around Salisbury Plain, Edinburgh, Leuchars, Catterick, Aldershot, Colchester, Stafford and the East Midlands.

Shadow defence secretary Jim Murphy pointed out that the Conservatives were voted into government on a promise of a larger army but welcomed the changes.

However, MoD cutbacks have meant that seven sites across the country will be made available for disposal: Claro Barracks, Howe Barracks in Canterbury, Craigiehall Barracks and Cawdor Barracks; while Redford Barracks in Edinburgh, Forthside Barracks in Stirling and Copthorne Barracks in Shrewsbury will be drastically reduced.

"This announcement represents a costed and funded plan to bring our army back from Germany… and provide the accommodation that out troops deserve," Mr Hammond told MPs.

German bases are scheduled to close by 2020 with the majority of the 15,000 British army troops currently stationed in Germany and their dependents will now be brought back to Britain by the end of 2016.

The move brings to an end a long history of British military in the country, which dates back to the British Army stationed on the Rhine after World War II.

The MoD is also preparing for the return to Britain of the 9,000-strong force currently in Afghanistan by the end of next year.

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