Seven military barracks are to close and more than 30,000 soldiers relocated to new bases across the UK as part of a restructuring of the army announced on Tuesday.
The moves are part of the wholesale reorganisation and shrinking of the army as almost 16,000 soldiers return from Germany over the next six years, and thousands more are pulled out of Afghanistan by the end of 2014.
Though the speed and scale of the withdrawal from Germany has been partly dictated by budget cuts, Philip Hammond, the defence secretary, warned he was leading a drive to find further small "efficiencies" from the armed forces.
But he also reiterated his warning to the Treasury that his department could not absorb further big cuts without affecting the military's capabilities and responsibilities.
The withdrawal from Germany is one of the last major pieces of a complicated jigsaw that will shape Britain's armed forces over the coming decades.
In a statement to MPs, Hammond confirmed that more than 11,000 troops based in Germany would return to Britain within three years and that £1bn would be spent on new military accommodation. A further 4,500 troops will withdraw in 2019. As the army restructures around seven regional hubs in the UK, four existing barracks will close completely, and three others will partially shut.
The MoD said Claro Barracks in Ripon, north Yorkshire, Howe Barracks in Canterbury, Craigiehalle Barracks in Edinburgh and Cawdor Barracks in Pembrokeshire would "no longer be required by the army and will be made available for disposal".
Parts of Redford Barracks in Edinburgh, Forthside Barracks in Stirling and Copthorne Barracks in Shrewsbury will also close.
Hammond said the axing of some sites was regrettable, especially in areas where the army had longstanding links with the community.
But he suggested some of the barracks facing closure were too dilapidated to save and were "no longer fit for purpose". He also admitted there would be some civilian job losses.
"Of course we are very sensitive to the fact that many of our military units have very close connections to the communities in which they have been embedded for a long time, and there will be significant regret for the loss of those connections.
"There will be some loss of civilian jobs, that is inevitable when you reduce the size of the army. Equally in other areas there will be the creation of new civilian jobs."
Major General Nick Pope, the officer in charge of the rebasing plans, admitted that the plans would involve 74 units moving location within the UK, as well as the repatriating of the 16,000 soldiers in Germany.
In total, more than 30,000 troops will have to move from their bases between now and 2019. In addition, the MoD has to provide for the 17,000 relatives and support staff who are also in Germany.
The MoD said the upheaval would ensure more stability in the future as the army settled around the seven hubs.
They will be at Salisbury Plain, Aldershot, Colchester, Stafford and in the east Midlands. There will be two more hubs in Scotland – in Edinburgh and Fife.
The Scottish National party (SNP) will be angered that only 600 of the soldiers returning will be stationed north of the border. That is a 20% increase on current numbers, but the SNP had hoped for thousands more.
Speaking before his statement to the House of Commons, Hammond refused to say whether there was a split in cabinet over whether the military would face further big cuts as a result of this year's Whitehall spending review.
He also said he was working closely with the chancellor, George Osborne, and understood the need for further reductions in government spending.
But the defence secretary again warned that further inroads into his budget would have consequences.
Asked if cuts would have a devastating affect, he said: "Devastating is a very emotive term. We have a set of output requirements, we have some very challenging efficiencies that we are trying to drive through now, including in the frontline.
"I have never said and would never say that there aren't further efficiencies (in the MoD budget). We are working right now to identify where we might find still further efficiencies. But clearly if we go beyond what can be delivered from efficiencies, there will have to be a reassessment of the output that is delivered."
Of the withdrawal from Germany, where British troops have been based since the end of the second world war, General Pope said: "This is a phased and sequenced move out of Germany. We have been there for almost seven decades. This represents the end of an era."
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