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HQ ARRC bids farewell to Germany

Jun 18

18 June 2010 - The official Farewell Parade took place in Germany to formally mark the move of HQ ARRC to UK this summer. After being based in Moenchengladbach for 18 years, HQ ARRC moves to Imjin Barracks, Innsworth, Gloucester.

In the presence of Her Royal Highness the Princess Royal, the Guest of Honour, HQ ARRC officially bade farewell to Germany and to Moenchengladbach at a glittering farewell parade at JHQ Rheindahlen. The Parade was watched, in sunny weather, by hundreds of British and multinational Service personnel and their families, with Forces children amongst those enthusiastically greeting the Princess Royal on her arrival.

Her Royal Highness was joined for the occasion by numerous senior British, German and NATO officers and dignitaries, in recognition of this historic milestone in HQ ARRC’s history. These included Dr Walther Otremba, German State Secretary for Defence, Mr Gerald Howarth, British Minister for International Security Strategy, and Dr Jürgen Rüttgers, Ministerpräsident North-Rhine Westphalia.

Also at the Parade were General Sir John McColl, Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Europe, General Sir David Richards, British Chief of the General Staff and a former Commander ARRC, and General (Retired) Sir Jeremy MacKenzie, also a former Commander ARRC.

The guests were hosted by Lieutenant General Sir Richard Shirreff KCB CBE, Commander ARRC, and his staff from HQ ARRC.

Formed up on the JHQ Parade Square in immaculate formation, for inspection by Her Royal Highness, were some 160 members of 7 Signal Regiment R. SIGNALS, the ARRC Support Battalion, two Multi-national Guards, and a British Colour Party. The Parade was commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Al Long, Commanding Officer, 7 Signal Regiment.

As Her Royal Highness, accompanied by Lieutenant General Shirreff, inspected the Parade, pausing to speak to many of the soldiers, a colourful repertoire of music was played by the Band of the Adjutant General’s Corps.

The Parade was also the occasion for a very rare distinction, when Dr Otremba presented HQ ARRC with a Federal ‘Mission for Peacekeeping and Freedom’ Fahnenband, or honorary pennant, Germany’s highest military honour.

The Fahnenband was awarded to the ARRC by the Federal Government for its enormous contribution to the cause of peace. This rare distinction is only conferred at the discretion of the Federal Government.

Following the Parade, Her Royal Highness signed the Moenchengladbach Golden Book at a formal Reception, accompanied by Herr Norbert Bude, the City’s Mayor. Princess Anne also had the opportunity to meet the staff and families of HQ ARRC, as well as numerous British, German and NATO guests from all walks of life who have given the Corps their unstinting support over many years.

Addressing the Parade, the Princess Royal said: "I am delighted to have been invited to take this Parade, marking the departure of the ARRC from Germany. As a regular visitor to British Forces in Germany, I have always been struck by the warmth and friendship shown to British and Allied Forces by the German community. This makes an enormous difference to the families, especially when the soldiers are deployed on operations. I am grateful to North Rhine Westphalia for hosting British Forces, and to the people of Moenchengladbach, who show unstinting friendship and support, not only to the British but to all the nations of the ARRC.

"Dr Otremba, may I express my gratitude to you and your colleagues in the Federal Ministries who make such a vital contribution when the ARRC deploys on operations. I must also thank you most warmly for presenting the Fahnenband, which is a unique honour and a symbol of the high regard in which the ARRC is held in Germany. Nowhere else does the partnership of Nations work as well as on operations. I wish the ARRC well for the challenges that lie ahead of you. You and your families take with you, on your move, my highest regards and respect”.

In his reply, Dr Otremba said:
"The ARRC has always maintained the highest of standards and is quite simply unique. You and your families are an asset to both North Rhine- Westphalia and to the people of Moenchengladbach. Today, 20 years after German unity, we retain a wonderful memory of living together in multinational cooperation. My best wishes for your new start in your new location, and my thanks for all you have done for us”.

Speaking at the Reception, Dr Rüttgers said:
"The British Forces enjoy a high level of respect in North Rhine-Westphalia. Friendships have blossomed over several decades.

Almost 40,000 people in our state are directly or indirectly connected to the British troop presence. Looking to the future, we in North Rhine-Westphalia will still attach great value to the fact that British soldiers are stationed here with us.<:p>

"The Headquarters Allied Rapid Reaction Corps stands for multinational operations and for mutual challenges. Its personnel come from 15 nations on both sides of the Atlantic. Together we fulfil our duties in the Balkans, the Middle East, the Horn of Africa and of course, Afghanistan. North Rhine-Westphalia has a special role here: Bundeswehr soldiers from our state were the first German soldiers who made up the Rapid Reaction contribution to ISAF in North Afghanistan. We in North Rhine-Westphalia really do appreciate what American and European soldiers and police officers risk for us every day in Afghanistan and most importantly, why. We fully support the transatlantic partnership.

Since its creation, North Rhine-Westphalia has had close relationships with its British friends. I wish you, as an international organisation, all the best for your future work with our British friends in UK.”

Thanking The Princess Royal and all the guests for joining HQ ARRC for the Parade, Lieutenant General Shirreff added:

"Today is all about saying goodbye and thank you to our German friends who have made us feel so at home here in Rheindahlen. I am quite clear that it is Germany, this area and this community that have laid the foundations for the success of the ARRC, and shaped its ethos and esprit de corps. Not only have we worked together, trained together, thought and operated together here and in Bosnia, Kosovo and Afghanistan, but it is here that we prepare for our next tour of Afghanistan. But, most importantly, we have lived together in a garrison with unrivalled facilities, supported and encouraged by the friendliest of local communities. All this has been fundamental to the way the ARRC has developed. The soldiers and families of all the Partner Nations have been made to feel very much at home here and without this firm base, none of what the ARRC has achieved on operations would have been possible. We of course look forward to the future and we embrace change, but I am very conscious that our move will leave a huge gap in the local community. Germany has been good to us and it has been a privilege to have shared something of the German way of life.

"As for the future, let me assure you that although the ARRC is moving to England, we will do all we can to ensure that it maintains its multinational character as a NATO headquarters together with its unique ethos. I am also delighted that Germany will continue to contribute the third largest contingent in the headquarters, and I look to our German team to maintain the strongest of links with Germany. To all our German friends, I close by expressing our deepest thanks and appreciation for all you have done for the ARRC: good bye and thank you for everything you have done for us. We will never forget you.”