Thousands of the British military’s tanks, carriers and cars will head across the Channel because of MoD plans to sell off its vast complex at Ashchurch in Gloucestershire. This is where it stores or repairs up to 6,000 vehicles, ready for duty.
The problem of where to put them all when the 72-hectare (178-acre) site is sold has been troubling military planners, who have plumped for Mönchengladbach in western Germany. The city in North-Rhine Westphalia is home to the British-owned Ayrshire barracks.
Whitehall sources hope that moving tanks and other heavy vehicles to Germany will be only a temporary measure, buying time for the MoD to find a more permanent home for them in the UK.
But while the idea might be practical on some levels, insiders at the MoD can see the potential for farce.
The UK is in the process of withdrawing thousands of troops from Germany, at the same time as thousands of military vehicles could be heading in the opposite direction.
There will also be some anxiety about so many of them being relocated outside the UK, where they will not be ready for instant use in any emergency…[Is there no more vacant land left in the UK?]
The site near Tewkesbury has been likened to an enormous garage, where military vehicles are stored and kept ready for action. It is the only storage facility of its type in the UK and has a staff of about 700, made up of military, civilians and contractors.
The most valuable vehicles are kept in a 47,000 sq m super-shed, which has controlled humidity. The UK has 300 Challenger 2 Tanks, and Willey said keeping them in good order was essential – because they are becoming irreplaceable.
FYI: Challenger 2 Tanks