Russia’s continued aggressive behavior has prompted the British to move its tanks back into Germany as a countering measure against the Russians. This is part of the British army restructuring amid tensions with Russia, as noted by the Defense Secretary.
Such a restructuring will strengthen Britain’s military hardware in central Europe and aid the “rapid reinforcement of Nato’s eastern flank.” Initially, the tanks were shifted ten years ago to focus on wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. But now, it seems like a necessity has arisen in which the tanks are needed to boost military equipment on the eastern flank. From another perspective, it might look like a military move to prepare for a threat over the borders or to counter expected Russian attacks on allies.
The act of moving the tanks has been described as part of plans to restructure the British Army and “catch up” since the department was under-invested in for many years [Source]. Secretary Ben Wallace addressed the Commons that there was a need to “for the Army to update kit.” He explained that “When I went to Salisbury Plain in November and stood amongst an armored brigade on exercise, apart from better communications and a few laser range-finders, it was entirely the same as one I’d been in 1991. It reminded me how far behind… our land forces have fallen”.
According to Mr. Wallace, “an extra £8 billion would be used to buy new tanks and helicopters over the next decade, on top of the £40 billion already announced for the new kit”. He commented on this development about the number of troops left. A Government’s Integrated Review of foreign, defense, security, and development policy, which was rolled out earlier this year, proposed to reduce the army troop numbers from 82 500 to 73 000. He said, “That does mean we will have fewer soldiers, but it also means we will have an honest Armed Forces that does what it says on the side of the tin rather than boast about having lots of people and equipment that is 20 years out of date”.
These military reforms enabled the creation of a particular operation brigade comprising four units, termed “the Ranger Regiment.” Security officials said these battalions would train foreign forces and accompany them into battles with terrorist groups or hostile states. Also, units are to be rebased in the UK closer to their traditional recruiting areas.
This is not the first time the Army has made moves to counter Russia, as records show that it had armored vehicles in Estonia for over five years to restrict Russian cunning military activities. Placing military equipment in Estonia was part of Nato’s Enhanced Forward Presence mission to deter Russia.
The Telegraph UK reported on military plans and said, “Under the new plans, extra tanks will be based at Sennelager, Germany, in the Nato Forward Holding Facility, meaning an entire armored brigade will be based on the continent for the first time since the drawdown after the 2010 Strategic Defence and Security Review”.
An Army spokesperson said, “The NATO Forward Holding Base Sennelager is the Army’s developing Land Regional Hub in Europe.” The spokesperson explained the aims of such a base by saying, “Deliberately designed with our NATO partners it will enhance our ability to rapidly meet our commitment to NATO under the NATO Readiness Initiative by increasing our ability to store and hold material and equipment on the continent.”
‘While the intent is also to increase our training there, alongside our NATO partners, there is no plan to rebase UK combat forces in Germany,” as noted by the Army’s spokesperson.
By doing so, the UK makes a U-turn on its decision to end a permanent military presence in Germany since the second world war [Source]. But overturning its decision shows how serious the tensions with Russia are and how determined the British are in stopping any Russian military advancement. Sadly, Germany has been caught in-between two giants clashing. Lieutenant General Ralph Wooddisse, commander field army, said, “We are putting a substantial number of our armored vehicles forward to be able to move more quickly should they be required anywhere on the continental [European] landmass.”
Threats from China and Russia have been rampant in the previous months, with the Taiwan issue intensifying and Russia fingered in a Ukraine invasion. Hence, the UK had to make a tough decision of rebuilding its military in Germany to deal with threats from other superpowers and execute its NATO duties as prescribed.