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Retain Germany troops, says Dannatt

Britain should make a "military statement" to Vladimir Putin by retaining 3,000 soldiers in Germany, the former head of the British Army has said.

Lord Dannatt, who was head of the Army from 2006 to 2008, said the Government should reconsider its defence cuts following a " resurgent Russia ".

In a column in the Daily Telegraph he said recent crises in Syria and Ukraine meant the international landscape was more challenging than when the coalition Government came to the power in 2010.

He said: "Diplomacy and sanctions may be the right response for now to the Russian president, but he will look beyond those things to see where the real check on his actions might come from.

The Government is cutting the regular Army from 102,000 to 82,000 by 2020, while the newly-renamed Army Reserve - formerly the Territorial Army - is being expanded from 19,000 to 30,000.

The changes include withdrawing all 20,000 troops from its Germany bases - ending the British Army's 70-year presence in the country.

Lord Dannatt added: "To remove further resources from defence would be sending exactly the wrong message at this time.

"On the contrary, there is a strong argument to recognise that the international landscape is more challenging than in 2010, and consider making a statement that greater military capability must underpin our diplomacy.

"The Defence Reform Bill, currently going through the House of Lords, provides an opportunity to make such a statement.

"An additional 3,000 regular soldiers would provide an extra deployable brigade - a useful increase in capability in itself, sending the signal that Britain takes its defence responsibilities seriously, not only on behalf of its citizens but on behalf of our EU and Nato allies, too.

"Were we to keep that additional brigade stationed in Germany, it would further underline our commitment to peace and security."


From Belfast Telegraph