army3a9 - Northern Ireland - OP BAnner military support to NI.




The 2010 SDSR stated that there was “no longer any operational requirement” to base UK forces in the country. Thus, the government decided to accelerate the re-basing of military personnel from Germany with the aim of returning half of the more than 20,000 personnel to the UK by early 2015. The withdrawal tempo was increased when the Army Basing Plan was announced in March 2013, a plan that required all but 4,400 troops should return to the UK by late 2016. The remaining personnel (mainly logistic and administrate) are earmarked to return to the UK by the end of 2018. Latest early 2015 reports suggest that the withdrawal of personnel from Germany is moving faster than originally planned.

The HQ of 1st (United Kingdom) Division moved to the UK (York) in early 2015 and this will be the first time since early 1945 that the UK will not have a divisional headquarters in Germany. At the height of the Cold War the UK had four divisional headquarters in Germany.

HQ 7th Armoured Brigade moved back to the UK (early 2015) where it was re-designated as the 7th Infantry Brigade (based in Chilwell) under the command of 1st (United Kingdom) Division. This will leave one Brigade Headquarters (20th Armoured Brigade) in Germany until late 2016 when the Headquarters will move to Bulford and come under the command of 3 (United Kingdom) Division.

The headquarters of British Forces Germany has moved from Rheindahlen to Bielefeld and 372 staff are being relocated in an effort to cut down on the £55 million cost of running the old HQ at Rheindahlen.

The estimated cost to the public purse of maintaining and operating bases in Germany in 2010-11 was approximately £190 million. It is believed that the previous net injection to the German economy from the UK presence in Germany was around £700 million and following the return of troops from Germany, a similar sum will be injected back into the UK economy.


On 1 August 2007 Op BANNER, the military support to the civilian police in Northern Ireland ended and despite some recent activity by resurgent Irish Republican factions the Province remains relatively peaceful.

The worst year for terrorist violence was in 1972 when 131 service personnel were killed and 578 wounded. At one stage in 1972 there were over 30,000 service personnel in the Province supported by another 10,000 police. Overall 763 members of the armed forces and 303 other members of the security forces lost their lives as a result of the violence in Northern Ireland.

By early 2016 it is believed that the service strength in Northern Ireland will be approximately 2,000 personnel of whom about 95 per cent will be from the Army – a figure similar to the personnel strength in 1969 before the current ‘troubles’ began. The core of the peacetime garrison is centred around facilities at Ballykinler, Belfast (Holywood), and Lisburn.

On 1 January 2009 HQ Northern Ireland was disbanded and HQ 38 (Irish) Brigade (Thiepval Barracks, Lisburn) became the Province’s single headquarters.