Around 3,600 British troops will leave their bases in Germany and move back to the UK, the Ministry of Defence announced today.

Ministers have given provisional approval for the move, which would see the soldiers relocated to bases in Gloucestershire and Shropshire from 2009.

The affected units are HQ Allied Rapid Reaction Corps (HQARRC), 102 Logistics Brigade and 1 Signal Brigade.

Armed Forces Minister Bob Ainsworth said the announcement was a "significant" one for the personnel involved and their families, but added that 15,000 British troops would still remain in Germany for "many years to come".

It would help deliver "operational capability in a more efficient and effective way" and would make better use of the MoD estate in the UK.

He added: "This is an important announcement for the affected communities. There is now more detailed work to be done on these proposals and we will consult closely with all interested parties including local councils, health and education providers and trade unions."

He went on: "Germany has played a significant part in the history of the UK’s armed forces as a base for our troops for several decades.

"It will continue to remain an important part of its future as well - even after these personnel return to the UK. With the continued agreement of the German government, some 15,000 troops will remain there for many years to come.

"This announcement doesn’t change the close relationship we have with Germany or our commitment to our NATO responsibilities."

The MoD have selected RAF Innsworth in Gloucestershire as the site most suitable for HQARRC. The site of the Defence College of Aeronautical Engineering Cosford, in Shropshire, is the recommended site for the signals and logistics units.

The Ministry added that detailed plans will now be drawn up for the moves to the UK, starting with HQARRC, which could move between 2009 and 2011.