Britain's contribution to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) forces in Europe, the British Army of the Rhine, (BAOR) is facing a new opponent -- the rising cost of maintaining the men and machines in West Germany.
GV and CU: Prince Philip talking to tank crews (2 shots)
CU: gun barrel PAN TO officer on Chieftain tank.
SCU: Prince Philip at controls of tank.
SV: Prince Philip driving tank.
SV: tanks on manoeuvres with mock battle in progress. (3 shots)
GV EXTERIOR: Army supermarket.
CU INTERIOR: price board PAN TO shoppers (2 shots)
SV: People at checkout (2 shots)
GV EXTERIOR: Bank
SV INTERIOR: British troops in bank queuing to draw money. (3 shots)
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: Britain's contribution to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) forces in Europe, the British Army of the Rhine, (BAOR) is facing a new opponent -- the rising cost of maintaining the men and machines in West Germany.
SYNOPSIS: A royal visitor to the BAOR, Prince Philip, was able to watch one of the armoured regiments, the Queen's Royal Irish Hussars, on manoeuvres. The regiment was taking part in a major NATO exercise code-named Spearpoint. These major exercises represent one of the few opportunities of British regiments to test their machinery and men in battle situations. Rising costs and cuts in the British defence budget have forced the BAOR to cut back on the amount its armoured vehicles such as tanks and armoured personnel carriers can be used.
The Prime Minister, Mr. James Callanghan, said recently Britain might be forced to withdraw the BAOR if conditions attached to a new foreign loan are too tough. It now costs Britain 500 million pounds (800 million dollars US) to maintain its 55,000 BAOR troops, 10,000 men in the Royal Air Force Germany, their 135,000 dependants and 30,000 civilian employees compared with less than 100 million pounds (160 million dollars) ten years ago.
But its not only the British Government that is finding it expensive in West Germany. British soldiers and their dependants are also being faced with constantly increasing expenses as the value of the pound drops against that of the deutschmark. Although prices in the supermarkets on British bases are lower than those in the German cities, they are still higher than comparable prices in the United Kingdom. The forces also receive allowances designed to compensate for the higher cost of living, but many men, especially those with families, still find it hard to cope.
West Germany did provide some money under an agreement to offset Britain's costs in maintaining the BAOR and Air Force units, but the last agreement ended in March this year and has not yet been renewed. Britain is pressing for increased offset payments to maintain its military representation in West Germany.