Britain beefs up Europe's defence: Army puts tanks on red alert as Russia tensions soar

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British Army chiefs are moving more ammunition and supplies into Europe and ensuring tanks and armoured vehicles are ready in case they are needed to defend Europe, the Daily Express has learned.

Troops based in Sennelager, Germany, are quietly maintaining and “holding equipment at high readiness” so that if war broke out between NATO and Russia, troops could be flown in and the tanks moved within hours.

The Daily Express has learned there are now around 60 Challenger II tanks on the continent, with a further 400 Armoured Vehicles, moving between Sennelager and exercises in Poland and Estonia.
Many of them, particularly Britain’s main battle tanks, had been mothballed after remaining largely unused during the Afghanistan and Iraq wars. 
But over the last 18 months, Sennelager has become an increasingly important base for Britain’s armour, with troops working on the tanks and armoured vehicles to make sure they are ready to go amid fears of a war between Nato and Russia.  

Top brass are also considering storing more ammunition and supplies at the base to avoid a logistics crisis if the English Channel were to become “contested”.

The Daily Express became one of the first British newspapers to visit the base, meeting commanders and troops ahead of a major exercise.

Tanks and armoured vehicles were in hangars, with numerous stairways leading up to the vehicles.

Army sources told the Daily Express that tanks need constant maintenance otherwise there is an increased risk of them breaking down – as happened during Russia’s invasion of Kyiv.

And troops have been working on the tanks before they are sent to Estonia or Poland for exercises. All 60 are now in “high readiness”.

The move to boost the number of armoured vehicles in the country comes after the government announced in 2010 that it would move troops back from Germany to the UK.

An entire armoured brigade is now based on the Continent for the first time since the drawdown, with units rotating through Sennelager using the tanks on exercise or preparing them for deployment to Estonia.

Major General James Martin, who would lead Britain’s main battle force in the event of a war involving NATO, said Britain being able to use bases in Europe and having troops on the continent are “vital”.

He said: That’s why the land regional hub and the Nato forward base that is Sennelager is so important to us.

“In terms of speed of deployment, how quickly we can react and a demonstration of our will, it’s vital.

“The reason we wanted to do this in Germany, as a demonstrable act of UK will, we have a commitment to the continent of Europe and we are willing to conduct these exercises in the continent of Europe alongside our Nato partners and allies.

“For me, the ability to warfight also leads to that deterrence that hopefully prevents you from having to war fight.

“But there are no half measures. I don’t think you can deter by aiming to deter. I think you can deter by aiming to be ready to fight. I think that’s the history of warfare forever.”

Colonel Tim Hill, the British Army’s most senior officer in Germany, told the Daily Express: “This is really important because it’s holding stuff on the continent of Europe – already in place.

“And so we don’t have to worry about, in times of crisis, trying to get this stuff across the Channel.

“It’s about speed of response. All we need to do is rapidly deploy people by air, and this equipment is already held forward.

“I think that’s part of the UK’s physical manifestation of this place.”

Colonel Hill, the commanding officer of the base, told the Daily Express Army chiefs may move more ammunition and supplies to Sennelager, declaring the British Army will be “here as long as we are needed”.

He said: “This also demonstrates the UK’s absolute commitment to NATO.

“I do, absolutely. We are here for the next 20 years.

“We were here as long as we are needed by NATO, as long as the British army is still requires us which is an absolute must.

“This place will reach a finite capacity and it goes without saying.

“The British Army is very seriously looking at storing and sustaining war stocks on the continent of Europe. I think we’re going to see an increasingly important role in the storage of ammunition.

“Because we have old facilities here that can be reactivated and the storage of equipment packs, combat supplies, in terms of food and other supplies already stored here so that we don’t have to break it out and transport it across the Channel.

“If I had to sum this base up, it’s all about command and control, a forward presence, a training base, it’s all about the storage of armour and equipment held at readiness, and the storage of war stocks, supplies, ammunition, rations, medical equipment.”



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