A British Tank Army Expected to Last Just a Few Days Against the Russians

David Axe

The British Army in late February 2020 handed over, to German authorities, its last remaining headquarters in Germany.

The handover of the headquarters at Bielefeld in northwest Germany signalled the final dismantling of what once was a powerful ground force.

"Today I think, not only for me but for the British forces as a whole, means the end of an era,” Lt. Col. Tony Maw, commander of the British Army’s Germany Enabling Office, said in an official statement.

In the final decades of the Cold War, the British Army of the Rhine, or BAOR, oversaw more than 160,000 British troops in three divisions comprising I Corps. A fourth division, based in the United Kingdom, rapidly would reinforce the corps during wartime.

The four divisions combined possessed 12 front-line tank and infantry brigades. All together, I Corps in the late 1980s could field around a thousand Chieftain and Challenger tanks plus thousands more infantry fighting vehicles, howitzers, rocket launchers, air-defense systems and trucks.

By comparison, the entire British Army in 2020 possesses just 227 Challenger 2 tanks.

I Corps defended a sector of NATO’s northeastern flank in northern West Germany just south of Denmark. German and Dutch Corps lay to I Corps’s north. Belgian, German and American corps defended Germany’s central and southern sectors.

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