British Forces Germany

52°07′34″N 8°40′59″E / 52.12611°N 8.68306°E / 52.12611; 8.68306

British Forces Germany
Allegiance United Kingdom
Branch Royal Navy
 British Army
 Royal Air Force
TypeMilitary headquarters
Part ofUK Ministry of Defence
Garrison/HQBielefeld, Germany

British Forces Germany (BFG) was the generic name for the three services of the British Armed Forces, made up of service personnel, UK Civil Servants, and dependents (family members), based in Germany.[1] It was established following the Second World War, the largest parts of it becoming known as the British Army of the Rhine (BAOR) and RAF Germany (RAFG). Both components had the mission of defending West Germany and remained there for the rest of the Cold War.

It was the largest concentration of British armed forces permanently stationed outside the United Kingdom.[2] With the end of the Cold War, and the Options for Change defence review in the early 1990s, BFG as a whole was considerably reduced, with the British presence centred on the 1st Armoured Division, and supporting elements.

Following the 2010 Strategic Defence and Security Review, the permanent deployment in Germany ended in 2020. This was after British forces personnel were scaled down over several years, with 19,100 in April 2010, and 2,850 in April 2019.[3] However, around 185 British Army personnel and 60 Ministry of Defence civilians will stay in Germany beyond 2020.[4]

The remaining presence in Germany is known as British Army Germany.[5]

History edit

Bielefeld Headquarter entrance
Bielefeld Headquarter corner
Bielefeld building
250th anniversary of the Battle of Minden: Mungo Melvin and German General Markus Kneip crossing the Weser.

First established following the Second World War, the forces grew during the Cold War, and consisted, by the early 1980s, of I (BR) Corps made up of four divisions; 1st Armoured Division, 2nd Armoured Division, 3rd Armoured Division and the 4th Armoured Division.[6]

Disbandment of the British Army of the Rhine (BAOR) and Royal Air Force Germany (RAFG) in 1994, following the end of the Cold War and the Options for Change defence review in the early 1990s, reduced the strength of the British Armed Forces in Germany by almost 30,000 with just one division (1st Armoured) remaining by the late 1990s,[7] concentrated in North Rhine-Westphalia. The British presence was estimated to have been contributing 1.5 billion euros annually to the German economy in 2004.[7] Following a further spending review, one brigade was withdrawn and Osnabrück Garrison closed in 2009.[8]

Administrative support for British service personnel in Germany and across continental Europe was delegated to United Kingdom Support Command (Germany), (UKSC(G)). The four Army garrisons in Germany were under the direct administrative control of UKSC(G).[1] The General Officer Commanding UKSC(G) also functioned as head of the British Forces Liaison Organisation (Germany), which was responsible for liaising and maintaining relations with German civil authorities.[9]

Under the 2010 Strategic Defence and Security Review, it was decided that British military units would cease to be permanent deployed in Germany by the end of 2019. This led to a scaling down of the British military presence, and a restructuring of command and support structures.[10]

HQ British Forces Germany was formed in January 2012, replacing the UKSC(G) and the Germany Support Group (GSG).[11] Rhine Garrison, which principally comprised HQ British Forces Germany in the Rheindahlen Military Complex and Elmpt Station (formerly RAF Bruggen), also reduced in size; the HQ moved to Bielefeld in July 2013 and other units returned to the UK.[12] The two central garrisons - Gütersloh and Paderborn - combined to form a single 'super garrison' called Westfalen Garrison in April 2014.[13]

With the departure of Major General John Henderson in March 2015, the Commanding Officer of British Forces Germany became a brigadier's post, with Brigadier Ian Bell assuming command.[14]

In autumn 2019, British Forces Germany effectively closed,[15] with the last military base handed back to the German Bundeswehr in February 2020.[16] However, some training will still be undertaken in Germany with regard to NATO capability.[17]

Off-duty life edit

The British Forces Broadcasting Service (BFBS) radio services were widely available on FM across north-western Germany.[18]

The British Army Germany rugby union team regularly played games against emerging rugby nations like Belgium, Denmark, Netherlands, Germany and Luxembourg.[19]

During the height of "the Troubles" in Northern Ireland, the IRA targeted personnel in Germany between 1988 and 1990. The attacks resulted in the deaths of nine people, including three civilians, and many wounded. As a result, vehicles owned by personnel ceased to have distinct registration plates, which had made them easily identifiable.[20]

Commanders edit

Commanders have included:[21]
General Officer Commanding United Kingdom Support Command (Germany)

General Officer Commanding British Forces Germany

Commander British Forces Germany

  • 2015–2018 Brigadier Ian Bell
  • 2018–2019 Brigadier Richard Clements

Commander British Army Germany

  • 2019–2023 Colonel Tim Hill[5]
  • 2023 Colonel Mike Foster-Brown[22]

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ a b "British Forces Germany" (PDF). Ministry of Defence. Archived from the original (PDF) on 14 October 2011. Retrieved 2 March 2012.
  2. ^ Chandler (2003), The Oxford History of the British Army, p. 360
  3. ^ Annual Location Statistics, 1 April 2019
  4. ^ "UK to maintain military presence in Germany". GOV.UK. Government of the United Kingdom. 30 September 2018.
  5. ^ a b BFG, Commander (23 September 2019). "So, it is time to say Aufwiedersehen. It has been an honour to command this fantastic organisation doing its very best to support our people here in Germany. Thank you. This account will transfer to the new Comd British Army Germany, Col Tim Hill. Please continue & follow".
  6. ^ "British Orders of Battle & TO&Es 1980-1989" (PDF). Battlefront: Modern. Retrieved 29 September 2015.
  7. ^ a b "From occupiers and protectors to guests". BBC News. 20 July 2004. Retrieved 11 February 2006.
  8. ^ "Osnabrück picks up the pieces after British withdrawal". 3 September 2009. Retrieved 26 October 2015.
  9. ^ United Kingdom Support Command[permanent dead link]
  10. ^ "All British army bases in Germany to close by 2019 with 20,000 troops returning to UK". Metro. 5 March 2013. Retrieved 24 October 2015.
  11. ^ "HQ British Forces Germany". British Army. Archived from the original on 1 August 2016. Retrieved 20 July 2016.
  12. ^ "Long goodbye almost over". British Forces Broadcasting Service. Archived from the original on 18 July 2013. Retrieved 16 July 2013.
  13. ^ "Farewell to the 1st Westfalen Garrison Commander". 16 June 2015. Retrieved 24 October 2015.[permanent dead link]
  14. ^ "A Queen's birthday reception was held in Germany". 11 June 2015. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 4 October 2015.
  15. ^ "The British Army in Germany". Ministry of Defence. Retrieved 15 August 2015.
  16. ^ "British army hands back last headquarters in Germany". The Guardian. 22 February 2020. Retrieved 23 February 2020.
  17. ^ "Defence review ends Iraq-sized ventures". Financial Times. 19 October 2010. Archived from the original on 10 December 2022. Retrieved 22 October 2010.
  18. ^ In West Germany: Military Networks Spreading Pop, Billboard, Billboard - 27 Mar 1982
  19. ^ British Army (Germany) Rugby Archived 2010-04-02 at the Wayback Machine ARU website, accessed: 29 March 2010
  20. ^ Secret squad sent in to track down IRA killers, Glasgow Herald, 3 May 1988
  21. ^ "Army commands" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 5 July 2015.
  22. ^ "Anglo-German Club Paderborn with new British Patron and Secretary". Retrieved 4 December 2023.

Further reading edit

External links edit