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The Defence Implications of Possible Scottish Independence - Defence Committee Contents


Resolution to SNP Conference: Foreign, Security and Defence Policy Update

The Foreign, Security and Defence policy of Scotland should be determined by the Scottish Government and Scottish Parliament and always reflect the priorities of people living in Scotland.

An independent Scotland will be an outward-looking nation which is open, fair and tolerant, contributing to peace, justice and equality. By mobilising our assets and the goodwill and recognition that Scotland enjoys in the world, we will provide sustainable access to natural resources to tackle need and prevent insecurity in the world for this and future generations.

The SNP reiterates its commitment to non-nuclear defence, international law, the United Nations and supporting multilateral solutions to regional and global challenges.

While conventional military threats to Scotland are low, it is important to maintain appropriate security and defence arrangements and capabilities. This includes a cyber security and intelligence infrastructure to deal with new threats and protect key national economic and social infrastructure.

Scotland is a maritime nation with more than 11,000 miles of coastline, including nearly 800 islands, critical under-sea and offshore infrastructure and an area of responsibility extending far into the North Sea and Atlantic Ocean. The SNP recognises our national responsibilities as a northern European nation to work with our neighbours to fulfil current defence and security responsibilities and improve collective regional arrangements. Environmental changes to the High North and Arctic Region raise major regional challenges and responsibilities which Scotland shares.

Scotland will require military capabilities to fulfil these responsibilities. These will be provided by the Scottish defence and peacekeeping services which will be answerable to the Scottish Government and Scottish Parliament. An independent Scottish government led by the SNP will commit to an annual defence and security budget of £2.5bn, an annual increase of more than £500m on recent UK levels of defence spending in Scotland but nearly £1bn less than Scottish taxpayers currently contribute to UK defence spending.

The Scottish armed forces will comprise 15,000 regular and 5,000 reserve personnel, operating under Joint Forces Headquarters based at Faslane, which will be Scotland's main conventional naval facility. All current bases will be retained to accommodate units, which will be organised into one regular and one reserve Multi Role Brigade (MRB). The air force will operate from Lossiemouth and Leuchars.

Regular ground forces will include current Scottish raised and restored UK regiments, support units as well as Special Forces and Royal Marines, who will retain responsibility for offshore protection.

The Scottish armed forces will be focused on territorial defence, aid to the civil power and also support for the international community. The Multi Role Brigade structure and interoperable air and sea assets will provide deployable capabilities for United Nations sanctioned missions and support of humanitarian, peacekeeping and peace-making 'Petersberg Tasks'.

The Scottish defence and peacekeeping forces will initially be equipped with Scotland's share of current assets including ocean going vessels, fast jets for domestic air patrol duties, transport aircraft and helicopters as well as army vehicles, artillery and air defence systems. A Scottish defence industrial strategy and procurement plan will fill UK capability gaps in Scotland, addressing the lack of new frigates, conventional submarines and maritime patrol aircraft.

Joint procurement will be pursued with the rest of the UK and other allies as well as shared conventional basing, training and logistics arrangements, fulfilling shared priorities in 'Smart Defence'. This includes sharing conventional military capabilities, setting priorities and better coordinating efforts providing economic synergies, job stability and taxpayer value for money.

A long-standing national consensus has existed that Scotland should not host nuclear weapons and a sovereign SNP government will negotiate the speediest safe transition of the nuclear fleet from Faslane which will be replaced by conventional naval forces.

Security cooperation in our region functions primarily through NATO, which is regarded as the keystone defence organisation by Denmark, Norway, Iceland and the United Kingdom. The SNP wishes Scotland to fulfil its responsibilities to neighbours and allies. On independence Scotland will inherit its treaty obligations with NATO. An SNP government will maintain NATO membership subject to an agreement that Scotland will not host nuclear weapons and NATO takes all possible steps to bring about nuclear disarmament as required by the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty of which all its members are signatories, and further that 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. Scotland will be a full member of the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) of the European Union and the Organisation for Cooperation and Security in Europe (OSCE).

October 2012

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