1 (UK) Armoured Division
The majority of British forces in Nordrhein-Westfalen and Niedersachsen belong to the 1st (UK) Armoured Division. The Division has existed in the British Army since 1809 when the Duke of Wellington formed it, in Portugal, from two British brigades and one Hanoverian brigade of the King's German Legion. Therefore, since its inception in the 1800s the 1st (UK) Armoured Division has had strong links with this part of Germany.
The Division has been stationed in Germany since June 1960, as part of NATO, first in Verden an der Aller and since 1993 here in Herford. The 1st (UK) Armoured Division is now the only British division to be stationed in Germany, from a peak of 4 divisions during the height of the Cold War, though it is not the only element of the British Forces in Germany. The Support Command is based in Rheindahlen, (just outside Mönchengladbach), with some 3,600 personnel and 3,000 Royal Air Force personnel in Brüggen, though the remaining elements of the RAF are due to leave Germany in the very near future.
It is important to understand how 1 (UK) Armoured Division fits into Britain's contribution to NATO. In 1990, following the collapse of the former Soviet Union, the British Government conducted a defence review, which reduced the size of the British Army from 155,000 personnel to 116,000. The impact of this restructuring was that the British Army of the Rhine was reduced to a strength of 1 Armoured Division with supporting troops. That division is the 1st (UK) Armoured Division, which is now assigned as part of the UK's contribution to the Allied Command Europe Rapid Reaction Corps.
1 (UK) Armoured Division is to:
- Deliver the appropriate force elements required at Part 5 (Command and Signal) of the LCP within allocated resources.
- Be prepared to deploy all, or part, of its force elements world wide as part of a NATO, national or coalition force to conduct joint operations across the spectrum of conflict.
- Deliver the appropriate infrastructure support and conduct effective estates development planning within geographical boundries in order to contribute to the land component of the UK's military capability.
1 (UK) Division comprises three brigades. Until earlier this year all 3 brigades were configured in the same way, each having 2 tank regiments and 2 armoured infantry battalions. The tank regiments are in the process of being equipped with our most recent main battle tank, Challenger 2 (link to equip) whilst the infantry are equipped with the Warrior Armoured Infantry Fighting Vehicle . As a result of the United Kingdom's Strategic Defence Review , there has been a reorganisation of the British Army and each brigade based in Germany will lose an armoured regiment, although these regiments will return to the Division on deployment for operations. The reorganisation process will take a number of years.
The Division trains for the most demanding scenario, high intensity conflict or warfighting, and this prepares us for operations in less demanding environments. The maintenance of these warfighting skills is vital to enable the division to meet the full range of tasks which it could be called upon to conduct. The recent deployment of 4 Armoured Brigade to KOSOVO is an excellent example of this. When the brigade deployed to Macedonia in March 1999, the exact nature of the task was unknown and they had to be prepared for an opposed entry into KOSOVO without a UN agreement. Fortunately the environment was less hostile when they crossed the border, however the training they had conducted in high intensity conflict in the previous year meant that they were prepared for any eventuality and was vital to their subsequent success.
The Division has been continuously involved in operations in support of United Nations Security Council resolutions since 1990 when it deployed to Saudi Arabia in the Gulf War. Having returned from the Gulf in 1991, more than 2,500 soldiers from the Division deployed to the Former Republic of Yugoslavia in 1992 as part of the United Nations force. The Division has maintained a Presence in BOSNIA since then and has also deployed units to Northern Ireland, Cyprus, the Falkland Islands and most recently to the ongoing deployment in KOSOVO as part of KFOR. The division has also deployed small teams and individuals to UN missions in Africa, the Baltic States and East Timor. This pattern of operational deployments is very much a feature of life in the Division.
The Osnabrück/Münster based 4 Armoured Brigade was one of the first NATO formations to move to Macedonia and subsequently deploy forward into KOSOVO. 7 Armoured Brigade returned from a 6 month tour in Kosovo in August 2000. The Divisional HQ and Signal Regiment returned from Bosnia in Mar 99 having commanded Multi-National Division (South-West) for 6 months. Throughout 1999, 3 major units deployed to Bosnia on peace support operations, these include the Queens Royal Lancers from Osnabrück, the Royal Regiment of Wales from Paderborn and the Royal Highland Fusiliers from Fallingbostel.
Engineer squadrons continued to support the operation in Northern Ireland in 2000. The Falkland Islands has been the home of many members of the Div HQ and Signal Regiment, as well as some of our engineers during this year and more are earmarked to return in the early part of next year.
No formed units from the division have deployed to East Timor or Sierra Leone, however during the year we have sent personnel as individual reinforcements or in small groups to UN missions around the world.
5700 troops were deployed in an operation in April 1999. Soldiers from the Division have made major contributions to the restoration and maintenance of peace: Enforcing UN mandates, separating warring factions and conducting humanitarian relief.
The training cycle is called the Formation Readiness Cycle, which underpins the divisions' training and commitments. Each brigade in the division rotates through a 3 year cycle of training, high readiness for short operations, and other tasks such as pre-planned operational tours in places such as BOSNIA, KOSOVO and NORTHERN IRELAND. The training programme comprises approximately 16 weeks worth of training activities spread throughout the year in a progressive cycle.
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