Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 31 May 2016

British Army presence scaled back in North

Published 08/12/2008

The military presence in Northern Ireland is being downgraded in the New Year, it was announced today.

The British Army's General Officer Commanding is leaving and a Brigadier will be put in charge.

It will be the first time since the foundation of the State in 1921 that there has been no GOC, but the move is a clear reflection of the changed times in Northern Ireland.

Major General Chris Brown packs his bags on January 1 and heads off to Iraq to take up a new command in Baghdad.

``It is the end of an era, we have had a GOC in Northern Ireland since partition, but I am now superfluous and it is time to go,'' he said.

Since the Army's duties in Northern Ireland - Operation Banner - ended in 2007 it had always been envisaged the top job would be downgraded.

Where once there were up to 30,000 soldiers on duty, there is now a peacetime garrison of just under 5,000 scattered around bases across the province.

``We have gone through a transitional phase, but there was always going to come a point when we needed to recognise a two star general in command is no longer appropriate and in my judgment that is now,'' Gen Brown said.

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