Search This Blog

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Defence minister Liam Fox confirms Scotland army plan

THE military footprint in Scotland is to be increased in the government's basing review, to be published this summer.

However, the revelation yesterday came as Defence Secretary Liam Fox warned "uncertainty" caused by the prospect of an independence referendum could hit shipbuilding jobs on the Clyde and in Rosyth.
The government plans to at least double or even treble the number of soldiers based in Scotland by 2015 with troops returning from Germany.

It is expected that Scotland will be home to one of the new multi-purpose brigades of 6,000 troops including infantry 

battalions and heavy armour, probably the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards. Currently there are 3,220 soldiers based north of the Border.

But any new troops would be accompanied by the loss to Scotland of between 2,500 RAF personnel, along with possibly 500 Royal Marines.
Sources close to Dr Fox have said he has already decided which bases will be closed and where personnel will be relocated. 

He is said to be "wanting to dot the i's and cross the t's" of the costs involved, but it would involve an "increase in the military footprint in Scotland."

Dr Fox also gave a strong hint to the Scottish Affairs Select Committee when he gave evidence about the plans for defence spending in Scotland. Dr Fox stressed that he was aware that between 2000 and 2010 there had been an 11 per cent cut in military personnel across the UK, with a 24 per cent cut in Scotland.

And while he insisted that decisions had to be made on a strategic basis, he made it clear that geographical concerns would play a part in his conclusions.

He told MPs: "I have a very strong view that we need to maintain a strong footprint of the UK's defence assets across the whole of the United Kingdom."

It is also understood that while he doubts the full decision on the UK plan can be published in time for the start of the summer recess on 19 July, he intends to publish what will happen in Scotland separately first.

Leuchars in Fife is thought to be most likely to join Kinloss in Moray as no longer required as a base by the RAF, with Lossie-mouth, also in Moray, to be retained as a fast jet base.

However, both former RAF bases are likely to end up as army barracks, with another option of moving the marines out of RM Condor at Arbroath and stationing some of the troops returning from Germany there too. 

No comments:

Post a Comment