UK DEFENCE – UNAFFORDABLE SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT DEFENCE PLAN IS TOO FULL OF RISKS
By Howard Wheeldon, FRAeS, Wheeldon Strategic Advisory Ltd.
(“It is useless for the sheep to pass resolutions in favor of vegetarianism, while the wolf remains of a different opinion.” – William Ralph Inge)
08 Oct 13. In this first attempt at making some sense ahead of next year’s referendum vote on Scottish independence in so far as it might affect Scotland’s future defence and security requirement I have chosen to look here at the military and cost consequences of a potential ‘yes’ vote to severing from the United Kingdom as opposed to getting involved in the potential defence industrial consequences. No doubt I will eventually be persuaded to become involved in the defence industrial debate and all the various consequences that might have not only for Scotland but the remainder of the United Kingdom that Scotland might choose to leave behind – but that time is not yet.
The military consequences of an independent Scotland are also enormous and as yet I have found no reason to believe that the proposals for the defence and security of a future independent Scotland as outlined by the Scottish Government at Holyrood have any credibility at all. Of what little we know from what we have been told they are neither affordable or in any way to be considered as acceptable in terms of the required defence and security of a future Scotland in their present form.
Should Scotland vote for independence next year its government would allocate £2.5bn of the annual budget to be spent on defence. This is a ridiculously small amount and yet how on earth are we to believe that even this is affordable? According to SNP leader and Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond together with ‘veterans’ Minister, Keith Brown such annual funding will be expected to provide and support a defence force together with all the various pieces of kit including I assume all land, maritime and air power capability requirement. Well, it certainly won’t be enough – not nearly enough. Indeed, I suspect such an amount would hardly be enough to cover one tenth of the actual cost required to secure adequate defence and security that the good people of Scotland require. Yes, on this issue I really do have a vested interest as well as my grandfather happened to be a Scot and believe me when I say that Scotland is a country that I love.
If there ever is to be a ‘yes’ vote for Scottish independence its people deserve to know that in a world of such geo political uncertainty the government has provisioned adequate funds and capability to protect them together with the hugely important and complex array of on-shore and off-shore assets. According to a Scottish government spokesman quoted on the BBC website an annual budget of £2.5bn would allow an independent Scotland to have first-class conventional forces that can fulfill the role of defending the country and co-operating with international partners.
The same spokesman went on to say and I quote from the BBC website that “we will not waste billions of pounds on Trident nuclear weapons but will retain all current defence bases” including the current Royal Navy submarine base at Faslane which they would intend to become Scotland’s main conventional naval facility. Finally he commented that “our long-term commitment will ensure continued support for jobs and local economies in all the communities around Scotland that are home to military bases.”
These are of course fine words and no doubt well intentioned but in terms of value in this debate and at this time as impracticable as they are unaffordable and thus worthless. Indeed, rather than promote a sense of wellbeing and security for those who will vote to decide on the future of Scotland next September they show that an independent Scotland would be completely unable able to defend itself if challenged.
Promoting such a wanton and dangerous high risk strategy with regard t