British Forces Germany

British Forces Germany
Allegiance  United Kingdom
Branch Royal Navy
British Army
Royal Air Force
Part of UK Ministry of Defence
Garrison/HQ Bielefeld, Germany
Brigadier Richard Clements

British Forces Germany (BFG) is the generic name for the three services of the British military, made up of service personnel, UK Civil Servants and dependents (family members), based in Germany.[1] It was first 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).

BAOR 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 as a whole 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 20th Armoured Infantry Brigade.[1]

Following the 2010 Strategic Defence and Security Review, the permanent deployment will end by 2020. As of 2015, there were 5,200 troops still in Germany.[3]


First established following the Second World War, the forces grew during the Cold War, consisting 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.[4]

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 personnel strength of the British Armed Forces in Germany by almost 30,000 with just one division (1st Armoured Division) remaining.[5] The British presence was estimated to have been contributing 1.5 billion Euros annually to the German economy in 2004.[5] Following a further spending review, one brigade was withdrawn and Osnabrück Garrison closed in 2009.[6]

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.[7] HQ British Forces Germany was formed in January 2012 replacing the United Kingdom Support Command (Germany) (UKSC(G)) and the Germany Support Group (GSG).[8]

Rhine Garrison, which principally comprised HQ British Forces Germany in the Rheindahlen Military Complex and Elmpt Station, also reduced in size; the HQ moved to Bielefeld in July 2013 and other units returned to the UK.[9] The two central garrisons - Gütersloh and Paderborn - combined to form a single "super garrison" called Westfalen Garrison in April 2014.[10]

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.[11]

In summer 2015, a further brigade was withdrawn and Bergen-Hohne Garrison closed leaving a minimal presence in the state of Lower Saxony and just one brigade (20th Armoured Infantry Brigade) in North Rhine-Westphalia.[12]


British Forces Germany is concentrated in North Rhine-Westphalia. The HQ is located at Bielefeld and 20th Armoured Infantry Brigade is located at Westfalen Garrison. The 20th Armoured Infantry Brigade is currently equipped with Challenger 2 MBTs, Warrior IFVs, AS-90 howitzers, Multiple Launch Rocket Systems, armoured personnel carriers, Gazelle and Lynx helicopters.[1]

Army 2020

Under the 2010 Strategic Defence and Security Review, permanent deployment will end by 2019,[13] although some training will still be undertaken with regards to NATO capability.[14]

Off duty life

The British Forces Broadcasting Service (BFBS) radio services are widely available on FM across north-western Germany.[15]

The British Army Germany rugby union team regularly plays games against emerging rugby nations like Belgium, Denmark, Netherlands, Germany and Luxembourg.[16]

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.[17]

Major units as of 2017

Major units included:


Commanders have included:[18]
General Officer Commanding United Kingdom Support Command (Germany)

General Officer Commanding British Forces Germany

Commander British Forces Germany

  • 2015–2018 Brigadier Ian Bell
  • 2018-Present Brigadier Richard Clements[19]


  1. 1 2 3 4 "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. "Army Basing Programme Newsletter, Edition 9 - Dec 15" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 10 March 2016. Retrieved 23 December 2016.
  4. "British Orders of Battle & TO&Es 1980-1989" (PDF). Battlefront: Modern. Retrieved 29 September 2015.
  5. 1 2 "From occupiers and protectors to guests". BBC News. 20 July 2004. Retrieved 11 February 2006.
  6. "Osnabrück picks up the pieces after British withdrawal". 3 September 2009. Retrieved 26 October 2015.
  7. United Kingdom Support Command
  8. "HQ British Forces Germany website". Archived from the original on 2016-08-01. Retrieved 2016-07-20.
  9. Long goodbye almost over Archived July 18, 2013, at the Wayback Machine.
  10. "Farewell to the 1st Westfalen Garrison Commander". 16 June 2015. Retrieved 24 October 2015.
  11. "A Queen's birthday reception was held in Germany". 11 June 2015. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 4 October 2015.
  12. "The British Army in Germany". Ministry of Defence. Retrieved 15 August 2015.
  13. "All British army bases in Germany to close by 2019 with 20,000 troops returning to UK". Metro. 5 Mar 2013. Retrieved 24 October 2015.
  14. "Defence review ends Iraq-sized ventures". Retrieved 2010-10-22.
  15. In West Germany: Military Networks Spreading Pop, Billboard, Billboard - 27 Mar 1982
  16. British Army (Germany) Rugby Archived 2010-04-02 at the Wayback Machine. ARU website, accessed: 29 March 2010
  17. Secret squad sent in to track down IRA killers, Glasgow Herald, 3 May 1988
  18. Army commands Archived July 5, 2015, at the Wayback Machine.
  19. "'They're Moving Back': New BFG Commander Shuts Down 20 Brigade Rumours". Forces Net. 13 March 2018. Retrieved 27 June 2018.

Further reading

  • Durie, William (2012). The British Garrison Berlin 1945-1994: nowhere to go. Berlin, Vergangenheitsverl. ISBN 978-3-86408-068-5. 

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

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