The German authorities announced that the British have vacated the “Camp Bergen-Hohne” barracks, previously used by the famous 7th Armoured Division, also known as the “Desert Rats”. There, a newly established 414th Armoured Battalion is going to be stationed. The unit involves German soldiers, together with a single company of Dutch troops, and it is going to operate 44 Leopard 2A6 main battle tanks.
According to the initial plans, the 414th Armoured Battalion was to be a reserve unit, one of two units of this type in the Bundeswehr, however, in the light of the Ukrainian crisis and increased level of threat posed by Russia, it was decided that the element shall be quantitatively expanded. As we know, the Germans have increased the target quantity of the Leopard 2 tanks serving in the armed forces – from 225 to 328. This is to make it possible to fully equip six battalion-sized units (including a single reserve elements) and the training units. A single company-sized element of the Dutch Army is going to be acting under the jurisdiction of the Bundeswehr.
Currently, the Dutch unit has 16 Leopard 2A6 tanks at its disposal. Initially, during the Cold War, 445 main battle tanks of this type have been acquired. 180 examples were upgraded to the 2A6 standard. However, these tanks were decommissioned, while the armoured units were completely disbanded. The aforementioned tanks were sold, e.g. to Finland. Moreover, it is worth adding that between the 1980s and 1990s, the Netherlands had a single armoured brigade at its disposal in Germany, within the framework of the NATO forces, while the Army had – in total – 900 tanks in its inventory.
Transfer of the barracks was carried out in line with the plan, covering the gradual withdrawal of the British Army from Germany. At the moment we know that despite the Russian Aggression against Ukraine, and despite the increased threat posed by Russia, London still endorses the decision to withdraw all of the heavy units back to the British Isles.
7th Armoured Brigade, during the World War II, was involved in the fights in North Africa, including the Siege of Tobruk, which was defended by the soldiers of the Polish 1st Carpathian Brigade. The unit also took part in the fights in Myanmar and Italy. Since 1947 it has been stationed in Germany. It has been withdrawn just recently, due to the structural cuts. At the end of the 1950s it took over the traditions of the disbanded 7th Armoured Division, along with the “Desert Rats” nickname. Back In 2014 the unit was transformed into a light infantry brigade. In the light of the 2010 Strategic Defence and Security Review, the British have limited the quantitative status of their armoured units.