British Forces Germany

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British Forces Germany
Country United Kingdom
Allegiance  United Kingdom
Branch Naval Ensign of the United Kingdom Royal Navy
British Army Flag British Army
Royal Air Force Ensign Royal Air Force
Part of British Armed Forces, UK Ministry of Defence Joint Forces Command
Garrison/HQ Bielefeld, Germany
Brigadier Ian Bell

British Forces Germany (BFG), is the name for British Armed Forces service personnel and civilians based in Germany.[1] It was first established following the Second World War as the British Army of the Rhine (BAOR).

Although much smaller than BAOR, it is still 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 has been considerably reduced. Since the 1990s, the British presence has centred on the 1st Armoured Division, and supporting elements. With restructuring under the Army 2020 change programme and with units rebasing, the majority of the remaining British service personnel in Germany are part of 20 Armoured Infantry Brigade.[1]

Following the 2010 Strategic Defence and Security Review, the permanent deployment will end by 2020. All British army bases in Germany will close with more than 20,000 troops having returned to the UK since 2010.


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

Disbandment of the British Army of the Rhine (BAOR) and Royal Air Force Germany (RAFG) following the end of the Cold War reduced the personnel strength of the British Armed Forces in Germany by almost 30,000.[4] The garrison at Osnabrück was closed in 2009.[1][5]

Rhine Garrison, which contained HQ BFG in the Rheindahlen Military Complex, closed in 2013; the HQ moved to Bielefeld and other units returned to the UK.[6] The two central garrisons - Gütersloh and Paderborn - combined to form a single "super garrison" called Westfalen Garrison. The BFG presence is estimated to have contributed 1.5 billion Euros annually to the German economy.[7]

Administrative support for British service personnel in Germany and across Continental Europe was delegated to United Kingdom Support Command (Germany). The four Army garrisons in Germany were under the direct administrative control of UKSC.[1] The General Officer Commanding UKSC also functioned as head of the British Forces Liaison Organisation (Germany), which is responsible for liaising and maintaining relations with German civil authorities.[8] HQ BFG was formed in January 2012 replacing the United Kingdom Support Command (Germany) (UKSC(G)) and the Germany Support Group (GSG).[9]

With the departure of Major General John Henderson in March 2015, the Commanding Officer of British Forces Germany become a brigadier's post, with Brigadier Ian Bell assuming Command.[10]

In summer 2015, Bergen-Hohne Garrison closed leaving a minimal presence in the state of Lower Saxony.[11]


Bielefeld Headquarter Entrance
Bielefeld Headquarter Corner
Herford Barracks
Bielefeld Building

BFG is concentrated in North Rhine-Westphalia. The HQ is located at Bielefeld, with Westfalen Garrison in Paderborn.

In August 2012 there were 21,500 British soldiers in Germany and along with families and civilian component the total number of people was around 40,000. The 1st Armoured Division is currently equipped with Challenger 2 MBTs, Warrior IFVs, AS-90 howitzers, Multiple Launch Rocket Systems, armoured personnel carriers, Gazelle and Lynx helicopters.[1]

Off duty life[edit]

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

The British Army Germany rugby union team regularly plays games against emerging rugby nations like Belgium, Denmark, Netherlands, Germany and Luxembourg.[12]

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 9 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.[13]

Under the 2010 Strategic Defence and Security Review, the British Army in Germany will be reduced by half by 2015,[14] and permanent deployment will end by 2019,[15] although some training will still be undertaken with regards to NATO capability.[16]

Major Units as of 2015[edit]

Major units included:


250th anniversary of the Battle of Minden: Mungo Melvin and German General Markus Kneip crossing the Weser

Commanders have included:[17]
General Officer Commanding United Kingdom Support Command (Germany)

Commander British Forces Germany

  • 2015–Present Brigadier Ian Bell


  1. ^ a b c d e "British Forces Germany" (PDF). Ministry of Defence. Retrieved 2012-03-02. 
  2. ^ Chandler (2003), The Oxford History of the British Army, p360
  3. ^ "British Orders of Battle & TO&Es 1980-1989" (PDF). Battlefront: Modern. Retrieved 29 September 2015. 
  4. ^ BBC News (2004), From occupiers and protectors to guests, Accessed 11 February 2006.
  5. ^ Headquarters Structure,
  6. ^ Long goodbye almost over
  7. ^ From occupiers and protectors to guests BBC News
  8. ^ United Kingdom Support Command
  9. ^ HQ British Forces Germany website
  10. ^ "A Queen's birthday reception was held in Germany". Retrieved 4 October 2015. 
  11. ^ "The British Army in Germany". Ministry of Defence. Retrieved 15 August 2015. 
  12. ^ British Army (Germany) Rugby ARU website, accessed: 29 March 2010
  13. ^ Secret squad sent in to track down IRA killers, Glasgow Herald, May 3, 1988
  14. ^ Half of Britain's troops in Germany to leave by 2015
  15. ^ All British army bases in Germany to close by 2019 with 20,000 troops returning to UK
  16. ^ "Defence review ends Iraq-sized ventures". Retrieved 2010-10-22. 
  17. ^ Amy commands

External links[edit]

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