It has been an awfully long time since British tanks rumbled their way across Europe towards the Rhine ”“ 67 years, in fact.
So the Germans will be intrigued to learn the Ministry of Defence is plotting another push east, albeit an unconventional one that has been forced on it by budget cuts.
Thousands of the British military’s tanks, carriers and cars will head across the Channel because of MoD plans to sell off its vast complex at Ashchurch in Gloucestershire. This is where it stores or repairs up to 6,000 vehicles, ready for duty.
The problem of where to put them all when the 72-hectare (178-acre) site is sold has been troubling military planners, who have plumped for MÃ¶nchengladbach in western Germany. The city in North-Rhine Westphalia is home to the British-owned Ayrshire barracks.
Whitehall sources hope that moving tanks and other heavy vehicles to Germany will be only a temporary measure, buying time for the MoD to find a more permanent home for them in the UK.
But while the idea might be practical on some levels, insiders at the MoD can see the potential for farce.
The UK is in the process of withdrawing thousands of troops from Germany, at the same time as thousands of military vehicles could be heading in the opposite direction.
There will also be some anxiety about so many of them being relocated outside the UK, where they will not be ready for instant use in any emergency.
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