Part of the requirements for an independent Scotland will be the organisation of its Defence infrastructure.
Considerable parts of the current defence establishment will not be transferred to Scotland as they will have no need for those particular assets.
The Scottish Government has stated that they planning to develop their defence capability over a 10 year period. The obvious question that arises is who will be responsible for Scotland’s defence in the period before these plans are fully implemented? There will be a reluctance on the part of the rest of the UK to defend Scotland.
Over the first term of a Scottish Parliament, the current governments proposes that :
Naval forces would be built up to two squadrons with around 2,400 regular and at least 270 reserve personnel.
The army would incorporate an HQ function and an All-Arms brigade, with three infantry/marine units and supported by a number of specialist units and special forces. This would entail around 4,700 regular and at least 1,110 reserve personnel.
Air forces will include an Air Force HQ function, establishment of Air Command and Control systems, a Quick Reaction Alert squadron, a tactical air transport squadron, flight training and establishment of airborne maritime patrol capability. This would require 3,250 regular personnel and around 300 reserve personnel.
The Scottish National Party has proposed that under a Scottish Constitution – Scotland would be free of Nuclear weapons. As a direct result, it will be necessary for the Naval base at Faslane and the associated Coulport establishment would have to be relocated to facilities south of the border, whilst this would require an agreement to enable a timely transition of the bases, it will definitely result in the overall staffing reductions.
Whilst the SMP has proposed converting the Faslane Base as their version of Norwood, a lot of the technical trades would be redundant especially once the submarine fleet is relocated. Whilst some will be retrained, the question as to who will be liable for the necessary redundancy payments. Additionally as the SNP Plans would take some 10 years plus to come to fruition there are going to be a number of redundancies and unemployed personnel who would need to be supported.
The additional consideration would be as the based would be in the short term located in an Independent Scotland, the nationality of those employed by the base would have to be re-assessed, combined with full security screening being undertaken. Personally, I do not doubt the integrity of those who are currently employed to support the Royal Navy’s submarine fleet, but given the change of situation and therefore increased risk, precautions would have to be made. Issues, such as breach of security or “Official Secrets Act” would have to be dealt with. So who’s jurisdiction would in play.
- What powers of investigation would be permitted for Royal Navy personnel
- What jurisdiction would they be tried under?
- What prisons would they serve their sentences?
Whilst Scotland would have an expectation of “retaining” a number of RAF assets, those such as the F35B (Lightning 2), Typhoon and all the military transport capability cannot be transferred to Scotland – after all they would have no use for such asset and would not have the infrastructure to maintain it. So what fighter assets could be transferred, certainly some Tornado aircraft could be transferred and the Scottish Air Force would have experience to manage such aircraft, but would the proprietary avionics also be included – when did we agree to given research away?
Currently the air sea rescue is provided by a combination of HM Coastguard and service helicopters, though discussions are underway to “outsource” this capability. How would Scotland fund such a function? I do not see any mention of the SAR capability for Scotland in the Independence documentation?
Personnel who decide to join the Scottish Armed forces would have to consider the limited opportunities which will present themselves here or whether they would prefer the greater opportunities that are currently available within the UK forces. Additionally personnel are given the opportunity to not only travel overseas, but also train overseas with allies. Those opportunities would be limited under an Independent Scottish government.
The paper produced by the Scottish government identifies the aspiration for Scotland to join NATO. It is, however, difficult to reconcile the wishes of the Scottish government to remove all Nuclear weapons and systems from Scottish territory but still benefit from the protection of the armed forces of NATO members including those with nuclear weaponry. There is no guarantee that Scotland’s application for membership would be approved.
Too much of the proposals outlined by the current Scottish government is full of wishes, aspirations, and intent, but there is no obvious identification of a backup plan. It seems that the management style of the Scottish government is to identify “visions” but being very light on the details. Sounds very much like the plans for the currency of an independent Scotland.