Army troop relocations announced by Ministry of Defence

Soldiers from the 2nd Battalion, The Royal Anglian Regiment
Image caption Soldiers from the 2nd Battalion, The Royal Anglian Regiment, will relocate to the UK

About 1,800 soldiers are to return to the UK from January as the withdrawal of British military personnel stationed in Germany gets under way.

The Ministry of Defence is relocating 20,000 soldiers by 2020 to save £250m per year - a sum disputed by Labour.

First to return will be a total of about 600 soldiers from 7 Regiment Royal Logistic Corps (RLC) and 43 Close Support Squadron RLC.

Army units will also change location within the UK earlier than planned.

Meanwhile, two regiments currently in Cyprus will return to the UK instead of their previous bases in Germany.

The Army will also take over RAF Kinloss earlier than the intended date of 2014-15. The total number of service personnel in Scotland will be maintained.

Next year, its regional headquarters in Edinburgh and Shrewsbury will be replaced by a central HQ in Aldershot.

The MoD says the move will save £250m per year and give military families greater stability.

Spending cuts

However, Labour says it will cost a significant sum to relocate the troops to UK bases and to refurbish former RAF bases to house returning regiments.

Ministers believe about £650m will be pumped into the British economy as forces and their families spend cash locally rather than abroad.

Relocating troops formed part of the government's strategic defence review, published by ministers in July.

About 42,000 MoD civilian and armed forces jobs are to be cut by 2015 as defence spending falls by 8% over the next four years.

Details of the relocation include:

  • 43 Close Support Squadron RLC moves from Gütersloh, Germany, to Abingdon, Oxfordshire, to join up with its parent Regiment (12 Logistic Support Regiment) by the end of January 2012. This will affect 120 soldiers
  • 7 Regiment Royal Logistic Corps (RLC) moves from Bielefeld in Germany to Cottesmore, Rutland, by summer 2013. The RAF is vacating its base on the site in 2012
  • 2nd Battalion The Royal Anglian Regiment moves from Cyprus to Cottesmore in July 2012, affecting 620 soldiers
  • 2nd Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment moves from Cyprus to Elizabeth Barracks, Pirbright, in July 2013. This will also affect 620 soldiers
  • About 930 soldiers from 39 Engineer Regiment (Air Support) move from Waterbeach, near Cambridge, to the former RAF Kinloss, Moray, in the summer of 2012
  • HQ 12 (Air Support) Engineer Group will move its 44 soldiers from Waterbeach to join RAF personnel at Wittering, near Peterborough, in the summer of 2013

The relocations mean Waterbeach Barracks will be sold while Trenchard Barracks at Celle and Munster station will be handed back to the German authorities and the Rheindahlen Military Complex will close.

'More pain'

BBC defence correspondent Jonathan Beale said troops had been based in Germany since 1945. But after the Cold War ended, there was less reason to keep them there.

He said the withdrawal had been accelerated because there were bigger cuts to the Army than originally planned, saving money which could be used for the relocation.

Our correspondent added that these were big changes for the Army and that the relocation - as well as the current redundancies - were only the first tranches, so there was "essentially more pain for the Army to go through".

Armed Forces Minister Nick Harvey said: "This programme will ensure fit-for-purpose infrastructure is in place to support both military operations, and service personnel and their families.

"The strategic objective remains to deliver a coherent and affordable defence capacity in 2020 and beyond."

The head of the Army, Chief of the General Staff Gen Sir Peter Wall, said the relocations would allow the Army to "reinforce vital links with local communities in the UK".

'Cast-iron assurances'

Shadow defence secretary Jim Murphy said although he supported bringing troops back from Germany, he wanted clarity on how it was being funded.

"Previous governments have found it to be cost-effective to have troops in Germany and so ministers must tell us what has changed. Ministers appear to have plucked figures from the air," he said.

"We need to know precisely how this is being funded and want cast-iron assurances that budgets for troops' welfare and accommodation are not being raided."

The Scottish National Party's Westminster leader, Moray MP Angus Robertson, said the number based at Kinloss after the relocation would be "41% down" on the previous RAF total.

"Moray is the most defence-dependent constituency in the country and the local economy and community has suffered terribly because of MoD cuts," he said.

"While welcoming the new army unit to Kinloss, many questions remain to be answered by the MoD."

Despite the closure of its Edinburgh headquarters, the Army will retain a General Officer Commanding (GOC) Scotland with staff to oversee base changes. HQ personnel based in Germany are expected to move to Scotland to perform this role by 2020.

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites