The British Army is to leave Canada after 50 years, with its biggest training base set to move to the Middle East.
The British Army Training Unit Suffield (Batus) in Alberta, western Canada, has been in operation since 1972, training thousands of British soldiers in live firing exercises.
More than 1,000 vehicles, including tanks and helicopters, are regularly used by regiments for weeks at a time at the 2,700 kilometre-square base, seven times the size of Salisbury Plain.
However, Ben Wallace, the Defence Secretary, is expected to announce later this week that plans to modernise the Army will include developing a training area in Oman.
The move to use the Omani desert, near Duqm airbase and port, as the main training ground for tanks and other armoured vehicles will mean the Batus camp, home to more than 400 permanent British staff, and the smaller Wainwright training area nearby, will close.
Defence sources said the shift to the Gulf would enable British forces to position hardware closer and more visibly to partner nations, such as Ukraine and Bahrain, and potential adversaries, such as Iran.
This would reduce the time necessary to respond to any crisis in the region and allow the Government to showcase British military technology to boost potential arms sales.
A defence source close to the plans told The Telegraph: “If you only have 148 tanks and 22 of them are stuck in Canada, that’s 22 tanks that are not at readiness and not available to do anything operational.
“If they are training in Poland or Duqm, the logic is that they are having a more operational and deterrent effect.”
An MoD spokesman said Batus would not close before 2023, as big tank exercises were already planned over the next two years.
Beyond that, small numbers of military personnel would still be located in Canada, as defence attaches, liaison officers and on exchange with Canadian units.— The Telegraph