The United Kingdom announced at the end of last week that the military will ramp up its permanent presence of troops and tanks in Germany, a year after drawing down its large Cold War-era presence there. British media appeared unanimous in citing that it was in the face of the “Russian threat” – with the premier newspaper The Sunday Times describing a “brigade-sized force” will now be closer to eastern Europe “in the event of war with Russia.”
“Hundreds of vehicles including tanks and drones will be deployed back to Germany in a government U-turn as the army builds one of its three big overseas hubs in the country,” The Times wrote in reference also to Oman and Kenya, which will additionally form the three new “regional land hubs” of the army’s foreign deployments.
Despite little in the way for firm concrete evidence, both Kiev, Washington and the West have continued accusing the Kremlin of prepping a potential invasion of eastern Ukraine, citing a Russian troop build-up of some 92,000. The Kremlin has denied this, saying it’s not cause for alarm whether it moves its troops near Ukraine or Crimea or anywhere else for that matter.
But amid the alleged “threat” coming from Russia, the UK will base the tanks, troops, and fighting vehicles in Germany, in part so that British forces could theoretically deploy much faster in any future scenario such as a repeat of 2014-2015 events in Crimea and Ukraine.
British forces will now be rotated on a permanent basis at the NATO forward holding base in Sennelager, a longtime hub of military bases in the north-central part of the country. But the new planned-for military footprint will pale in comparison to the prior Cold War presence, suggesting it will be little more than symbolic and geared toward muscle-flexing aimed at Moscow than anything else, as critics have noted.
According to Sky News the some 250 military vehicles and troops manning them “could then move on to Estonia, where the UK has for the past five years led a 1,000-strong battle group of NATO troops as part of a mission to deter Russian aggression.”
But the fact remains that Russia is unlikely to feel very threatened, again given that “The future UK presence in Germany will bevery different to the 20,000 – strong military footprint that was located in the country previously – a legacy in the decades that followed the end of WW2. That permanent presence was withdrawn in 2020.”
Currently the UK Defence Ministry is undertaking a broad military modernization campaign, including a program called “Future Soldier” – which is designed to the make the UK armed forces perhaps smaller but more high-tech and agile, with generals hoping “to transform the army into a more agile, integrated, lethal, expeditionary force,” according to the latest words by Defence Secretary Ben Wallace.”