On 12 September 2007 my predecessor announced (Official Report, columns 122-124WS) a programme of moves that would see three major military formations currently based in Germany relocated to existing defence sites in the UK, together with other unit moves within Germany that would lead to the eventual closure of Rhine Garrison and Münster Station with a consequential release of significant financial savings to the defence budget. The first formation to move as part of this programme is the HQ Allied Rapid Reaction Corps which will take place this summer to refurbished accommodation at Innsworth in Gloucestershire as announced on 15 May 2008 (Official Report, column 49WS).
Today, I am announcing that I have given approval for the next phase of the programme which will enable the rebasing of units within Germany. This approval commences the implementation of 26 minor build projects within Gütersloh Garrison that will allow those units that remain in Germany in support of 1 (UK) Armoured Division to vacate Rhine Garrison. As a separate but related part of this work we will also develop and rationalise the provision of service and infrastructure support currently provided in Germany by HQ United Kingdom Support Command, the army’s administrative headquarters. Taken together these initiatives will allow the Department to close large parts of Rhine Garrison in 2014, with full closure achieved when 1 Signal Brigade (7 and 16 Signal Regiments) moves back to the UK from its barracks in Elmpt.
The final two elements of the programme see 1 Signal Brigade move to Stafford and 102 Logistic Brigade move from Gütersloh to Cosford. While these locations remain the planned sites for these formations it has been necessary to delay their moves by two years beyond previously announced timelines in order to accommodate other defence resource priorities. The revised plan will see now 1 Signal Brigade move in 2015 and 102 Logistic Brigade move in 2018.
We will continue to work with all interested parties in the UK, including the local county and borough councils, health and education providers and the trade unions. In Germany we will continue to engage with the relevant authorities and employee representatives at national, regional and local levels. The German Government, as host nation, have been notified of these decisions.
As stated in all of our previous announcements, the moves that we are planning do not signal a change in either our commitment to the NATO Alliance or in our overall defence policy, nor do they devalue the continued close bilateral defence relationship between the UK and Germany. Although we may make further modest adjustments to our force levels in Germany, our plan, with the continued agreement of the German Government, remains to base UK forces in Germany for the foreseeable future in the form of HQ 1 (UK) Armoured Division and the majority of its formations and supporting units, some 15,000 service personnel.