UK Defence Minister Peter Luff has revealed how military assets will be
Scottiish independence: UK Defence Minister outlines Scotland's share of military assets
by Cameron Ings-Hodgson
UK Defence Minister Peter Luff has revealed what military assets Scotland would be entitled to in the event of Scottish independence.
Scotland’s likely share would be based on its 8.4 percent of the UK’s population amounting to £3.7bn inherited defence assets. This is the equivalent of roughly 26 battle tanks, two warships, 18 fast jets, one submarine and 26 helicopters.
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However, these assets are based on figures from 2006 and do not take into account what Scotland’s share of large new expenditures such as the Trident missile system or the Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers.
These projections fall in line with forecasts made by SNP defence spokesperson Angus Robertson which he outlined in his vision for the future of Scottish armed services earlier this week. Robertson called for 15,000 regular personnel across the army, air and naval forces - a number approximately equal to a size of eight percent of the UK’s current armed forces personnel total.
With regards to expenditures such as Trident, an SNP spokesperson told Scottish Times that Scotland would own a significant portion of the “asset value” of these large military expenditure items as opposed to a certain number of items. He argued that “you can’t own 30 per cent of a submarine” and that “independent Scottish defence forces would not want aircraft carriers or trident”.
Mr Robertson stated that: “Scotland’s share of these assets is worth billions. It makes sense to consider continuing to share some of these capabilities with our neighbours but, when it comes to others, such as Trident, I am quite certain that we can trade that asset for something more useful.”
What such items will be traded against during independence negotiations will be a matter for negotiations after the referendum.
A vision of sharing post-independence
The SNP’s vision of a post-independence military favours cooperation similar to the UK-French aircraft carrier sharing arrangement. A party spokesman said: “The SNP has always said we are committed to the opportunities offered by shared training, basing and procurement with neighbours, as happens between many countries in Europe, and in these austere times sharing conventional military capabilities may also make sense.”
Nationalists will vote at the SNP’s October conference on retaining NATO membership. A commitment to the European Common Security and Defence policy runs strongly throughout Angus Robertson’s SNP resolution on NATO where it is revealed that Scottish armed forces would work with the EU and the UN on missions that fall under the Petersburg humanitarian, peacekeeping and peace-making tasks.
In relation to NATO membership Robertson’s resolution states:
“An SNP Government will maintain NATO membership subject to an agreement that Scotland will not host nuclear weapons and NATO continues to respect the right of members to only take part in UN sanctioned operations” … “in the absence of such an agreement, Scotland will work with NATO as a member of the Partnership for Peace programme like Sweden, Finland, Austria and Ireland.”
Should delegates vote in favour of the NATO resolution an independent SNP government would see Scotland take up a similar place in NATO to Germany, in that Scotland would fall under a collective nuclear umbrella without actually possessing any weapons of mass destruction itself.
This move has been criticised by LibDem MP Sir Menzies Campbell who states: "The SNP want an independent Scotland to have the protection of the nuclear umbrella but without shouldering any of the responsibilities that come with being a member of a nuclear alliance."
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