UK troops to withdraw from Germany by end of decade
Under proposals accelerated by defence cuts, troops will return to the UK 15 years earlier than first planned
The UK military's long march out of Germany begins on Thursday when the Ministry of Defence announces details of a pullout that will eventually cover all 20,000 British troops there.
Under the plans, 1,800 will leave by next January, and then there will be a steady return home of another 8,200 by 2015. The rest will be back in the UK before the end of the decade.
The pullout has been accelerated as part of the cuts announced in last year's Strategic Defence and Security Review, which was an attempt to streamline the armed forces at a time when billions were being taken out of the defence budget.
The British bases in Germany still represent the biggest deployment of UK forces overseas. With civilians, families and children, the British contingent in the country stands at more than 43,000.
Professor Malcolm Chalmers, of the Royal United Services Institute thinktank, said: "It has been 30 years since the end of the cold war, and it is arguable that there has been no real role for our forces in Germany since then, although there was uncertainty about what would happen in the years thereafter. This is symbolic. We will be returning to a time when all our armed forces are based in the UK.