A Brigadier who has taken charge of British Forces Germany is getting straight down to business – starting with quelling rumours about 20th Armoured Infantry Brigade staying in Germany after the drawdown.
Brigadier Richard Clements, who takes over from Brigadier Ian Bell, said that rumours were “deeply unhelpful,” adding: “We’re working really hard to make sure that we get information out as we know it.”
Brig Clements will be the last ever Commander British Forces Germany (BFG) before the drawdown begins in 2019.
He spoke with Forces Radio BFBS Germany's Chris Pearson on Totally Connected to outline his plans for BFG over the next two years and also to dispel a number of rumours about 20th Armoured Infantry Brigade staying in Germany after the drawdown.
Brig Clements is the military equivalent of a local authority boss and says his aim is to make rebasing as smooth as possible so what is the focus for him over the next two years?
"We've got around 9,000 people that we'll need to move to various different locations, predominantly the UK and those people need to be supported right the way through to the end."
Under present plans some, personnel will stay in Germany mostly in NATO bases. Ensuring their continued welfare after most British troops have left is another key priority.
"We've got to make sure that we set the conditions for those who will remain in all those isolated detachments, around 750 people including their families who are going to stay here in Germany.
"We need to make sure that they get the right level of support to make sure that they're looked after in the future."
There has been speculation in the BFG community that 20th Armoured Infantry Brigade will stay in Germany following the drawdown, prompting Chris to ask Brig Clements to clear up any confusion.
"Rumours are deeply unhelpful at the moment and we're really working hard to make sure that we get information out as we know it.
"To be clear, we need to follow the plan and the plan is that all major units will be back in the UK by 2020... that is the plan that I'm working to.
"I'm really good friends with the Brigade Commander and we're of one message on this, they're moving back."
In September, the Brigadier intends to host a re-basing roadshow in Germany which he says will involve the Army Families Federation and local authorities in the UK.
"... make sure they have the right information at the right time and that they know everything we know at that point."
How does it feel to be the last Commander of British Forces Germany?
"It feels like an exciting challenge... there's lots to do. We will have an enduring relationship with our German colleagues.
"This is not a farewell, this is an auf wiedersehen."