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Defence Committee
Written evidence from Andrew Hobbs


“Don’t Just Moan About It—Take Advantage Of It!

The has been much rhetoric about the recent Strategic Defence & Security Review which has centred on the complete “cabbage the current (2012) British national (this term is used deliberately, as will be seen) Government has made of Britain’s defences. Assuming that there is even a morsel of truth in the allegations, it would appear that Her Majesty’s Government (one uses both terms advisedly) has indeed made just as much of a mess of Britain’s defences as they have of Britain’s education, transport and public health—and therefore all four of the key host nation support services that international investors expect.

The key date in the future of the defences of the British Isles would therefore appear not to be 2015, but 2014. The reason? International big business has finally lost both confidence in, and patience with, those “unintelligent cartoon characters in Westminster, and decided, not so much to break Britain up, as dismantle it according to the wishes of, and to a blueprint provided by, said international investors.

The obvious question is why now, rather than any time in the last 25 years? The answer to this is that the May 2011 Scottish Nationalist election victory (in defiance of a rigged electoral system) constitutes the political equivalent of a Final Warning—Britain’s national government, as an institution, has until the end of 2013 to prove that they can provide the four key host nation support services mentioned above to the standard expected by international investors. Judging by past performance, they will not get anywhere near! Sic Transit Gloria Britannia Magna.

A few remarks on the historical background will help to set the scene. It was realised some time in the last quarter of the 19th Century that Britain’s political system was strangling the economy. This resulted in, amongst other things, in a Bill for Scottish self-government [URLs in List of References] being before Parliament when the Great War broke out in 1914, and Bevan (in between inventing the NHS) receiving, and perhaps having commissioned, a report on the post WWII economic future of Northern England, which concluded that if the inhabitants were not given economic autonomy, they would sit down on the post-WWII reconstruction job. Well, they weren’t—and they did! This was in 1944, by the way.

This seems to be a continuing theme throughout post-1945 British politics, and what lies behind all the rhetoric behind the “North-South Divide is a sit-down protest against the post-1945 British political settlement by something like two-fifths of England’s population, along with the Welsh and Scots. Something else which is of interest is that the basic political settlement of the original post-1945 German Federal Republic was drawn up by British officials and administrators. An attempt to do something similar in Britain after 1945 met with a very rude answer from the (Labour) government of the day, with the results that we see. For a detailed description of the economic and administrative failures of the 1945–50 Labour government, see Barnett [The Lost Victory : British Dreams, British Realities 1945–50 Pan Books 1996]

So much for history—how did we get where we are? Thatcherism failed. This left the Conservative Party needing to produce some sort of economic showing in time for what became the June 1987 UK general election. The solution? A radical programme of economic1 and political decentralisation. This meant that not only did the Conservatives finally apply the correct solution to Britain’s post-1945 economic and social problems, but they had decisively won the election, and conferred upon themselves an opportunity to finally finish Labour as a national political force. What did the Tories do once the election was over? They threw it all away!! Idiots.

The Labour Party seems to be stuck some sort incomprehensible “statist mindset which completely fails to grasp Britain’s political and institutional heritage [The Day The World Took Off : the roots of the industrial revolution. Dugan & Dugan, 2000]. There is a school of thought, to which the author subscribes, which states that the Callaghan government’s mishandling of the Home Rule issue in the Autumn of 1978 “broke that administration, letting in the Conservatives, again with the results that we see. The response of New Labour, once elected, was to simply regurgitate, without taking any account of subsequent events, the 1978 proposals. This not only let in the Scottish Nationalists, but ruined the Welsh economy [typing in “Welsh Development Agency into Google displays the whole sorry story] and cannot have done the Northern [Hudson, 2004 & Tomany/Pike—documents in List of References] one any good either.

Where does Defence, as an issue, fit into all this? Simply, it is not so much a reserved (to central government) issue, as the reserved issue. Again, this seems to be a continuing theme of the Home Rule debate, although, on the other hand, the end of the Cold War and the continued absence of any “State military threat to Britain means that there has been no obvious need to discuss the matter further until now.

This appears to be changing, and that a non-national defence effort, based on additional (to the existing national effort) and independent military contingents initially based in Scotland will need to be put in place. The national Defence establishment will no doubt attempt to close down any debate and block any such effort, but it is no longer their decision.

Before we go any further, one things needs to be borne in mind, particularly by those who will be critical of this narrative. Alone of all the aspects of the political decentralisation debate (the author hesitates to use the tern “devolution), “defence is bedevilled by “he said/she said sources, which makes making any public contribution verging on the impractical. The author is satisfied that the military hierarchies, the major defence contractors, international communities such as the EU and NATO, and interested national ministries have all been actively discussing the matter since at least the mid-1980s, but these discussions are being deliberately being withheld, for reasons best known to the politicians and media establishment, from the public domain. Therefore, the message to any critics is this : “tell us what is really happening, then!!.

Put simply, is there a non-national defence job to be done? In a word, Oil. The story begins with a media story, a classic example of the “he said/she said syndrome, in early 2005 stating that effective recruitment for the Civil Nuclear Constabulary (CNC) had failed, and, as a consequence, the Royal Marines Commacchio Group [The URL for the history of this force is in the References], the unit assigned to protect Britain’s offshore energy resources, was being reassigned to protect Britain’s network of nuclear power stations.

This was supposed to have been interpreted by the international oil companies as a withdrawal of military protection of their investments (a key host nation support service, remember), which resulted in a progressive disinvestment in Britain’s oil and natural gas resources. This seems to have extended to onshore fields, as there has been at least one episode of the BBC Coast programme which interviewed at least one prospector who stated that he had been denied funding for developing promising onshore oilfields in Southern England. Given that the area is known to be an onshore oilfield equal to anything in the Middle East, this can only be the result of deliberate policy. There have also been at least two references on BBC Regional News to potential onshore oilfields in, as well as the South of England, Nottinghamshire and the Peak District (the latter actually being productive in WWII) not being developed, apparently for the same reason.

On the other hand, it must be admitted that a whole network of new, small, oil and gas companies has grown up, but they do not have the business resources to undertake large-scale developments, and if they suffer a major incident of any kind they will simply go out of business. They also appear to lack the business resources to undertake the major projects securing Britain’s energy supplies requires.

We now step forward in time some two years. There was a reference on the Times website that stated that the Scottish Nationalists’ successful 2007 election campaign (which resulted in them forming the minority administration that formed the basis for their 2011 victory) was paid for by the banks and the oil companies.

This means that we have to reconcile SNP buffoonery (the terms “numpty and “Wee Eck are not compliments!) with the relatively fair and competent SNP government of Scotland since 2007, which apparently led to their 2011 election victory. One obvious answer is that the SNP has been following a script drawn up by said banks and oil companies, and the proposed 2014 independence referendum is the culmination of this process.

It rather looks as though that these oil companies, whoever they are, have decided on a third option other than disinvestment or tolerating the bungling and adventurism of national government : get the Scots to do the job instead. Subsequently, there have been media stories that the French firm Total, the Korean National Oil Corporation and Gazprom are all investing in Britain’s oil and gas resources. While many will find the idea of the Russian military, for example, guarding Britain’s energy resources all very amusing, surely there is a better way?

This concept is further reinforced by a further media report [Moneyweek, April 16. 2010] which paints a very optimistic picture of Britain’s onshore oil prospects, and advising interested potential investors of the opportunities, which one must admit, seem to be considerable.

There appears to be a job for any putative Scottish military to do, which would be expected to be additional to the existing national contingents. It is against this background that any critique of the Scottish Defence Services proposal must be made.

The SNP has a statement of Defence policy on it’s website [URL given in List of References], but the author considers this to be a prime example of a “motherhood and apple pie statement, and the SNP, as in institution, should know better. For example, take the following statement:-

“The SDS [Scottish Defence Service—author} will initially be equipped with Scotland’s negotiated share of UK defence resources.

In plain English, there will be a share-out of an already inadequate UK defence force. The whole point of having a separate Scottish defence force is to add to Britain’s military strength in order to carry out the home defence and NATO tasks that those “unintelligent cartoon characters in Westminster are systematically neglecting.

Another real classic is:

“The priority of the Scottish Defence Services (SDS), in partnership with Scotland’s neighbours and allies, will be to safeguard our land, sea and air space

Not with a share-out of the current inadequate set-up, they won’t! This sort of vague statement merely makes it difficult to operate Britain’s defences in such a way as to maximise international investment.

Probably the most serious idiocy is the following statement:-

“Scotland will maintain active defence commitments with its friends and allies through the United Nations, European Union and Partnership for Peace

No mention of NATO!! The Unionist faction will be after this sort of sloppy statement like the proverbial “horse in a nosebag. International investors will not be impressed…

It is not just the author who thinks this way. For example, consider the debate reported in the [Scottish] Evening Times on the 17th of May 2011 [URL in List of References].

A good example of SNP “defence idiocy was highlighted in the Commons by Labour MP Sandra Osborne, who asked Dr Fox [the national Defence secretary at the time] to comment.

He said: “It is extremely worrying that the SNP have previously had a position which is anti-Nato, and anti the nuclear defence of this country.

“It is now time for a very serious debate on issues that ought to worry all those who believe not only in the United Kingdom but in sound defence for the United Kingdom.

If the 2010 Strategic Defence & Security Review is anything to go by, we won’t get it!!

Labour (who have nothing to shout about in the Defence arena) joined in the attack, with Dunfermline and West Fife MP Thomas Docherty saying: “The idea that, if Scotland split from the United Kingdom, all military establishments, personnel and equipment would remain is delusional propaganda.

The SNP should be countering these comments, not issuing motherhood-and apple-pie statements for public consumption, and keeping the real negotiations behind closed doors!

The best demolition of current SNP defence balderdash is to be found within a report on the Herald Scotland website [URL in List of References], which records the following conversation, which revolves around Alex Salmond’s defence of the suggestion the SNP could adopt an “independence lite option by sharing its military facilities with a government in London:-

The First Minister said on the previous Sunday to the 17 of May, “Many, many countries in the world share military facilities with friendly neighbours and there’s absolutely no reason why Scotland wouldn’t be prepared to do that.

This prompted General Sir Mike Jackson, the British Army’s former chief, to insist soldiers could only have one “political master and that, under independence, Scotland would have to raise its own army.

The general is quite right, of course, which brings us to a brief summary of what the defence review Dr. Fox expected in 2011 will be required after a successful 2014 Scottish independence referendum would look like.

We will need to start with what any putative Scottish military will actually have to do. Protecting oilfields has already been mentioned, and one would expect offshore gas fields to need protecting as well. Critics will no doubt question the need for this, but what international investors want, international investors get. Similar considerations would appear to apply to offshore wind generator “farms, and offshore wave and tidal energy installations. Another major project that seems to crop up in the media on a regular basis of the proposed National Water Grid, intended to take water form those parts of Britain in “water surplus (notably Scotland) and transport it to those parts of Britain in “water deficit.

The second role is to make up a portion of the deficiencies in national military strength, with particular emphasis on home defence (which ties in with offshore resource protection) and NATO commitment to the Arctic (also being clobbered by Westminster military adventurism)—the ultimate political price for facilitating Scottish independence.

Reference was made earlier to the Royal Marines Comacchio Group [RM Force Protection Group website], which was (and presumably still is) supposed to be dedicated to protecting Britain’s offshore energy installations. Whether this is still the case is now irrelevant, as the confidence of the oil and gas industry as a whole has been lost.

Apparently, protecting oil installations (an one presumes other offshore energy installations) is know within military circles as OILSAFE. These OILSAFE operations will need to continue and expand to cover both these and Maritime Counter Terrorist (MCT) tasks throughout the British Isles. This will involve counter-terrorist operations against ships as well as oil and gas installations. In its wider role, the MCT force will need to undertake exercises in and near Norway as well as Britain and will need to mature into an effective and respected organisation. The author is not qualified on exactly what form any Scottish OILSAFE force would take, but some 700 personnel of all ranks would appear to be needed.

Before going any further, we must consider the great imponderable—recruitment. There is no current information of any kind, or even speculation, on how any putative Scottish military would recruit the necessary personnel. The whole operation would appear to stand or fall on this issue. While international investors could be expected to supply a suitable cadre of experienced individuals, the likelihood is that this would lead to the British media, quite literally, screaming “mercenaries, which would lead to a political panic, which would wreck the whole operation. The author cannot answer this question, but would like to see the “people in the know come clean on the matter.

On the other hand, thanks to the wide coverage of modern military equipment available from amongst other places, the shelves of W.H. Smith, we can make a few speculations on what international investors would expect in the way of equipment. The basic missions would include methods of rescuing hostages on oil rigs, cruise ships and cross-channel ferries. Given the prospect of mounting a rescue operation against a North Sea oil rig from the freezing cold seas below, one can speculate that the equipment required would be extensive. One may also realistically expect that the oil and gas industry will have had their own audits, done by individuals with extensive military experience, and the resulting “shopping list will be extensive.

OILSAFE and MCT operations usually involve simultaneous assaults from the air and sea. We may therefore expect to see the purchase of enough infantry weapons to equip a 700-strong force. In the absence of helicopters from national sources, the Scots will need to purchase at least one squadron of medium lift helicopters (such as AW101 Merlins) and at last one squadron of smaller helicopters (such as Lynx Wildcat). A selection of rigid inflatable boats (RIBs) will be needed to assault ships and oil rigs from the water. This will all give the SNP leadership an “attack of the vapours, but what international investors want, international investors get.

Interested parties will also expect a realistic Scottish contribution to remedying the deficiencies in Britain’s overall defences. Following on from the above, a few words on a putative Scottish Navy will be appropriate. Back in Autumn 1998, there was a standing joke in defence circles that the Scottish Navy would consist of three frigates and two diesel-electric submarines.2 So Comrade Salmond needs to be made to concede, firstly, no “penny packeting, and, secondly, the principle of five major units. The obvious choice is five frigates. It is rumoured that the German Government is preparing to decommission all eight Type 122 frigates currently operated by the German Navy. Being German, these ships will not be cheap, but will be in absolutely top-class condition. Such a five-ship purchase will no doubt give the SNP leadership an even bigger “attack of the vapours (particularly when such a purchase would mean a loan secured against Scottish government revenues), but they must be made to realise that Scottish independence confers responsibilities as well as privileges.

There will also be a need for a minimum force of minehunters (six such vessels?) for both OILSAFE and “national missions. Interestingly, such vessels can also, with the appropriate mission computer software, “treble up as hydrographical survey vessels and inshore resource protection vessels.

Now, for the most expensive and controversial Scottish Naval purchases. OILSAFE operations outside the range of land-based helicopters and surface craft will require a large amphibious ship that can carry both helicopters and surface craft. On top of this, from a UK perspective, there is a need for such a ship than can cover for HMS Ocean when she is under repair and for the Royal Navy’s dock landing ships when neither is in service (which will happen at some point), as well as make up the shortfall caused by the sale of a Bay-class vessel to Australia. This will mean that the Scottish Exchequer having to purchase and operate what is called a Landing platform Helicopter Dock (LHD) vessel. This will really cause ructions within the SNP! One would expect that the Royal Corps of Naval Constructors and/or BAE Marine to have ready a design and build plan for such a vessel in time for the 2013 upheaval. If not, they should have.

It should also be in mind, that, as of Summer 2012, the Royal Navy is beginning to think about a replacement for HMS Ocean. A second example of the design which will be needed for the Scottish OILSAGE force is an obvious contender. This will also allow drawing office charges, specialised equipment cost etc. to be spread over two ships rather than one, lowering the unit cost for both.

Only slightly less controversial will be the need to purchase at last one replenishment vessel—again, because of the UK-level deficiencies in this area. Such a ship would need to be able to supply warships with fuel, drinking water, foodstuffs, spare parts, mail, etc. In addition to this ship, there may well be a need to construct and operate a “fleet tanker than can supply warships with fuel, and perhaps foodstuffs, drinking water and mail. This is all starting to look very expensive, and makes one truly appreciate the level of the defence failings at Westminster.

Almost as an afterthought, taking over the enforcement of what may well become the Scottish EEZ, will require the fisheries protection vessels operated by the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries for Scotland (or whatever it is called these days) to be armed, fitted with helicopters, capable of at least 20 knots, and increased in number. The putative minehunter fleet can help take care of inshore resource protection (see above), but at least six such ocean-going patrol vessels will be required (citing the Irish experience), along with at least four dedicated patrol aircraft. One hopes that the EU will pay for everything except armament, under the terms of the Common Fisheries Policy, but this will still “sting a bit.

The SNP appears to recognise that Scotland will need a relatively small Air Force (over and above the helicopter squadrons mentioned above), but one also wonders if they have realised what this will involve. Once again, we are considering the requirements of international investors and remedying a part of UK-level deficiencies. One role that immediately stands out is air defence. With the RAF being dragged off to deal with the whims, fancies and panics of Westminster politicians, there must be some very sharp questions being asked about who is going to defend Britain against air threats.

This might explain a very interesting story that has cropped up in the aeronautical press in 2009. This involves a proposal to supply fifty-eight Saab Gripen New Generation fighters to an unidentified British governmental body. What makes this interesting is that the RAF has denied all knowledge of such a proposal, and one cannot see how the UK Treasury approving such a purchase. This raises the likelihood of Gripen International (the marketing body for this aircraft) “jumping the gun (and making themselves look a bit daft), having recognised the need for an additional air defence force, with a secondary capability in anti-shipping attack and reconnaissance. This contract is supposed to be a complete “turnkey solution, covering the aircraft themselves, spare parts, engineering support (including a mid-life update), weapons, training, in fact, everything except fuel and initial personnel selection. Such a proposal would be very tempting to an embryonic Scottish government under severe pressure from both international investors and NATO to get it’s defence act together. However, it should be recognised that fifty-eight aircraft may be too many for the Scottish budget. It appears than three twelve-aircraft squadrons, plus an attrition reserve)—a total of forty-four aircraft—should be sufficient. It should be feasible to further reduce the “bill by buying re-manufactured A/B models from surplus Swedish stocks.

Two more stories in a similar vein in circulation concern the RAF trying to sell it’s Tranche 1 Eurofighters to pay for Tranche 3 (which has apparently got as far as BAE Systems building an operational infrastructure at RAF Leeming—officially for the Saudi contract) and the European F-16 consortium having perhaps as many as 40 of these aircraft, in various states of disrepair and disassembly, available for purchase. Marshall Aerospace are a Lockheed-Martin accredited service centre, and would presumably welcome the extra work, what with the RAF’s Hercules fleet being withdrawn from service.

One must also bear in mind that a jet fighter force is only one part of an air defence system. The other “set of teeth. as it were, concerns surface-to-air missiles. It is interesting to note that the Dutch Government [Air Forces Monthly, July 2011 issue] appears to be withdrawing a battery of Patriot missile systems from service. This is as well as the Stinger and Improved Hawk systems previously withdrawn and stored. A coincidence? We shall see. It would be interesting to know if enough of the older type of Rapier system (Field Standard B?) is still available form the UK national stockpile. This system would be good enough to satisfy international investors, particularly if the Blindfire radars were bought as well. Several hundred missiles would still have to be bought, but the “sticker shock would be reduced.

As the Scottish air defence force would be dedicated to defending Britain, it ought to be practical to work with the existing UK ground radar and command-and-control network. Staying with the radar theme, it may be possible to fit a rudimentary Airborne Early Warning capability into the Scottish air defence budget. The Government of Singapore has recently replaced it’s four E-2C aircraft, and one wonders if they would still be for sale circa 2014. These aircraft have not only had all the recommended airframe and electro-mechanical upgrades over the years, but (reading between the lines) a whole series of upgrades to the radar and EW systems, making them the equal of anything the Americans are using. A lot of effort has gone into these aircraft, and it would be a pity if they went into the crusher.

The final element would be airborne tankers. The Edinburgh government could also order new RAF-standard A330s (ouch!), but what about the DC-10 the Dutch [Air Forces Monthly July 2011 again] intend to withdraw. His apparently has a non-standard electronic cockpit, so bidding scrap price +10% ought to secure this aircraft. The US Air Force KC-10s are basically the same aircraft, and have had hose-drum units fitted under the wings—so copy the installation. The arrival of more fuel-efficient airliners should mean further DC-10s being available at a good price.

Now for the most controversial purchase—maritime patrol aircraft. The UK government decision to scrap the Nimrods (remember the “offshore tapestry operations over the oilfields?) must have gone down like the proverbial lead balloon with international investors, so they would expect the Scots to provide at least a minimal capability in this area. While aircraft such as the ATR-72 and C-295 would be fine for fisheries protection work, something larger would be needed for long-range work. The obvious candidate would be the Lockheed Orion, and it appears that ten of the Canadian CP-140 model [Air Forces Monthly June 2011 P12][official Canadian Forces website] are available. Lockheed-Martin apparently make an airframe life-extension “kit (Marshalls are the UK accredited servicing centre) and EADS apparently manufacture a suitable mission system. The main political objective here is to “shame the UK government into making the majority contribution.

One obvious alternative would be to fit the Nimrod MRA4 mission system equipment to these aircraft—if current garbled media reports about the continued storage of this equipment are true!

It should be feasible to obtain eleven more Orion airframes—the Portuguese are rumoured to have five in storage as well as many surplus American examples—to make up a total of twenty-one aircraft. The Scottish budget will not cover this, so the extra eleven aircraft will have to await Celtic Sea EEZ Management funds—see below.

Next in the list of national deficiencies is military air transport. As near as one can calculate, the overall British requirement is eighty-five Hercules-equivalents. Taking the C-17 as four of these, and the A400M as two, the proposed RAF fleet of each aircraft would give a total of seventy-six Hercules-equivalents, leaving a deficiency of nine. The obvious solution would be to purchase nine C130J-30s, but something much cheekier comes to mind. According to Flight International [31 May—6 of June 2010 issue, P27], Airbus Military have ten A400M aircraft, surplus from British & German orders, available. Four of these are apparently to be sold to Kazakhstan, but this still leaves six- which will be enough.

Finally(!), we get to helicopters. As well as the two squadrons needed for OILSAFE and MCT work (see above), an interesting used aircraft deal comes to mind. The Dutch [Air Forces Monthly July 2011 yet again!] intend to dispose of their 17-strong AS532 Cougar fleet. This ought to deal with any outstanding deficiencies in helicopter “lift arising from national misadventures. Another prospect that may be worthy of consideration is the eight-strong Portuguese SA330 Puma fleet, reputedly recently withdrawn in favour of the AW101. These aircraft are apparently already fitted with the more powerful Makila engines (and accompanying transmissions?), and the airframes are apparently if similar vintage to the RAF aircraft currently being rebuilt. One would therefore expect these aircraft to be able to be remanufactured to the RAF “HC2 standard cheaper than the RAF themselves can do it. There is the usual collection of garbled and contradictory references in the aviation press, but it appears that these aircraft will be available by 2014. There are also either eight or ten (depending on which media story one reads) surplus RAF examples available, along with three ex-Chilean examples left on the hands of Eurocopter Rumania.

When one looks at the proposed structure of aviation training in Britain, it is as though provision for extra non-national contingents has been incorporated into such bodies as the current “national technician training system, the Defence Helicopter Flying School and the Military Flying Training System proposal. Certainly, apart form perhaps buying a squadron of Hawk(?) trainers for the jet fighter force, there seems to be little benefit in setting up a separate Scottish aircrew and technician training organisation.

Perhaps a few words in logistics would be appropriate. The obvious main base for the Scottish Navy would be Rosyth Dockyard, currently very short of Royal Navy work—another instance of a pre-planned facility? The UK military are very kindly vacating Kinloss and Leuchars airfields, which would make two excellent main operating bases for any putative Scottish Air Force, and one would expect Machrihanish, Stornoway and Turnhouse to be available as forward operating bases. It must be stressed that it will be necessary to build two Brigade-sized Army bases, allowing Kinloss to be used for aircraft.

One thing stands out regarding procurement—for all that’s holy, buy off the shelf!!! Every British defence project, according to Page [Lions, Donkeys and Dinosaurs, Random House, 2006] that has gone wrong, has been a bespoke development. This is not only a British phenomenon—take the Canadian CH-148 helicopter programme [Air Forces Monthly, June 2011, pages 80–95 incl.], for example. Small nations in general have no business in commissioning bespoke defence systems of any kind that duplicate solutions already commissioned by larger ones.

Another matter than stands out is bureaucracy. The SNP implies that they will take over a pro rata share of the UK defence bureaucracy. In view of the constant blunders perpetrated by this body, international investors are most unlikely to tolerate such a measure. All that is really required is a few administrators to compile orders for consumable items, a press and public relations team, and a small team to compile Requests For Proposals and the resulting bids. The headcount for such a staff will be expected to be very firmly in the dozens, certainly less than a hundred.

As a final entry in this overview of what appears to be expected from a putative Scottish defence force, let us consider the SNP’s vanity project (or is it? Remember NATO’s Arctic adventures?), a Scottish Army. In view of Page’s comments about the British Army’s equipment, taking over the Royal Regiment of Scotland, as the SNP appears to propose, would at least give an opportunity procure weapons, ammunition and communications equipment that works reliably.. Again, no bespoke systems. However, it may prove worthwhile to set up and run a small arms and mortar ammunition factory, in view of the high rate of consumption of such items. An equipment repair organisation would also be worthwhile, to put a stop to price-gouging by the major defence contractors—another of Page’s themes.

How big would such a force be? According to Heyman [The British Army—a pocket guide 2002–2003, Pen and Sword, 2002], there are six Scottish infantry battalions, and the (after this book was published) recent consolidation of previously separate regiments into the Royal Regiment of Scotland appears to have retained this figure. Heyman implies that a brigade incorporates three battalions, which would give a field force of two brigades. This would also imply the formation of two armoured regiments and two regiments of self-propelled artillery, and single regiments each of “field equipment workshops, engineers (bridges, mines, etc), logistics, long-range anti-tank weapons, medical, air defence and military police.

Incidentally, the author has deliberately put the Army at the bottom of the list, as international investors will expect naval and air contingents to be given priority. The Scottish defence budget will therefore be somewhat stretched, which implies the purchase of second-hand equipment wherever possible. In a classic example of what the author has come to regard as stockpiling, it is rumoured that the Belgian Government is looking to dispose of the entire Belgian Army “Cold War armoured vehicle inventory en masse. While the Leopard-1 tanks would be a bit “light for the modern battlefield the CVR(T)s (the Belgians apparently built these under licence), AIFVs (the same as the Dutch YPR-765), M109s and Gepards may well be a different matter. One obvious source of superior tanks would be to see what the Germans and Dutch [Military Machines International July 2011 p46, p52/53) are able to provide.

Finally, how much all would this cost? The author has no idea! It must be reiterated that the Scottish military will take the size and shape international investors will demand, and would be expected to pay for.

There is also an obvious case for a non-national defence contingent based in Wales, albeit a much smaller one and initially confined to EEZ protection. Proposals have been published for joint Celtic Sea EEZ administration [Source Document PDF URL given in References] between the Governments of Britain, the Republic of Ireland, Spain and France. One must also bear in mind the Celtic Sea holds significant oil and gas reserves, which appear to be undeveloped for the usual reasons. Having a dedicated protection force that could not be dragged off somewhere on a Westminster whim would appear to facilitate such developments.

The problem here is cost. While the Welsh, given the opportunity, which they do not have at present, run the slickest and most professional economic development operation, the Welsh economy will have be rescued from the depredations of New Labour before any meaningful independent Welsh military can be considered. However, there may be a way round the problem, at least as far as EEZ protection is concerned.

One of the less well (in the daily press, anyway) publicised clauses of the EU Common Fisheries Policy [URL of CFP policy document given in References] is that the European Commission will pay for everything needed for an effective fisheries protection force, except weapons. With at least three other EU members backing up this proposal, two of whom are also NATO members, this raises the possibility of shaking the NATO money tree (for weapons and MCM gear) as well as the EU one. The only up-front cost would be that of the appropriate legal sanction.

It may be of benefit to speculate on what such a force would look like. It would have to be at least a minimum effective force, and to satisfy not only joint EEZ management expectations, but those of international investors. The immediate requirement would be for a mine countermeasures force to deal with potential mine and underwater IED threats to Milford Haven, which is, incidentally, a major import point for Britain’s natural gas supplies. In the absence of “professional comment on such matters (one wonders what Britain’s maritime lobby are waiting for!), the suggestion would be for six such vessels. One must also bear in mind that such vessels would also be able to undertake hydrographic survey and inshore resource protection missions.

The other component would be a larger offshore patrol vessels. Consulting the available literature [Warships International Fleet Review, June 2010 pages 18–21 incl.), at least two examples of the New Zealand Otago class (themselves based on an Irish design) would appear to fit the bill. One must also bear in mind civil contingencies—remember the Tywyn floods? This would appear to make the purchase of an amphibious vessel necessary. If the available budget can be made to stretch to such a vessel, an example of the New Zealand Canterbury design would be a good idea.

The non-national defence concept does has, one must admit, its amusing side—the minor players. Take the Shetlands, for example. Shortly before all this “war on terror rhetoric started (according to the author’s favourite such story publicly circulating), the Sullom Voe oil terminal had received a major, and very expensive, upgrade. Ever since, it appears that the oil companies have been trying to get the Shetlands County Council to provide a legal pretext for those same oil companies to put their own teams in to protect the place, However, we cannot, for political reasons, allow the likes of Blackwater/Xe/Academi/whatever they call themselves these days protecting a key part of Britain’s energy infrastructure, can we? While one would expect Total (who are undertaking major investments in the West Shetlands Basin) to get the French military to help, is this politically acceptable? The question here is what the oil companies are prepared to pay for? One would expect a proper job, but would they be prepared to pay for an independent Shetland Islands Defence Force?

One must also take into account Cornish bellyaching over fisheries protection and EEZ management. Again, one would expect the EU to pay for everything except weapons, especially for an entity in receipt of the highest level of EU funding. Judging from the publicly available material, the Grand Duchy would be able pay for the guns, if not quite from petty cash, but something near it. Again, this is a no-cost option for the British public purse, but would political sanction be forthcoming?

If one looks at British constitutional history, the City of Berwick-upon-Tweed keeps cropping up. This settlement is either part of England, part of Scotland, part of both or part of neither. In the process, Berwick has acquired the only (incomplete) example of a 16th Century “star fort in Britain, and a military barracks designed by the architect Vanburgh, which appeared to be the best such example in Britain when it was built. The significance of a Berwick Municipal Militia is political, namely giving the media something to snigger at while the real heavy metal goes in elsewhere.

Nothing has so far been said (nor will be speculated upon at this point).about English non-national defence. One reason is that legal sanction already exists in the nether regions of ecclesiastical law. A Spectator article (29 March 1995—author Henry Thorold) states that the powers of the Prince Bishops of County Durham (which included the power to raise ad operate armed forces) were never actually abolished. Upon whom they actually devolved is unclear, and would have be tested “in court. Incidentally, the Bishop of Durham was originally expected in the Medieval period to watch the Scots. Equally interestingly, the Bishops of Hereford were expected to keep a watch on the Welsh, which they did, maintaining a garrison in the town of Bishops Castle until 1573. Again, these powers, should they, as expected, still exist, would need to be the subject of a legal case.

The other reason? The Westminster politicians will be sufficiently hysterical about the Scots and (to some extent) the Welsh getting their own military, and bringing England into the equation would cause the most monumental panic, and wreck the whole operation. International investors would not be impressed!

List of References

Scottish Devolution: Quote From HoC Library List


1911 Government of Scotland Bill A Bill to make better provision for the

Government of Scotland. 1st reading 16/08/1911 Vol 29 c1929–36

1912–13 Government of Scotland Bill A Bill to make better provision for the

Government of Scotland. 2nd reading 30/05/1913 Vol 53 c471–552

1914 Government of Scotland Bill A Bill to provide for the better Government

of Scotland 2nd reading 15/05/1914 Vol 62 c1467–1549

Corresponding Hansard Reference


Quote from History of Scottish Devolution


So Near and Yet So Far

If it had not been for the First World War, Scotland would have had a devolved Parliament in 1914. A Scottish Home Rule Bill had passed its second reading and the mood at the time was in favour of such a move—it was seen as natural development of the creation of the dominions in Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. It was also seen as a way of dealing with Scottish legislation (still on a separate basis from that in England) allowing Westminster to deal with “bigger issues. It was Winston Churchill, MP for Dundee and one of 56 Liberal MPs at that time, who put forward the Bill, which only fell by the wayside as a result of WW1.

Further reading on the consequences of Scottish independence:

A Shortened Version of the SNP’s Excellent “Talking Independence booklet, from Stewart Smith.

Published by the University of Aberdeen

Available from the University’s website.

An excellent overview of what would be involved should Scotland become an independent state, as looks increasingly likely, given the continued failings of the UK’s national government.

The Lost Victory: British Dreams, British Realities 1945–50

Correlli Barnett

Pan Books 1996


How Britain got into its post-1945 mess. The Conservatives have never done anything constructive to put things right when they have been in power, apart from their 1986–7 decentralisation programme. Conclusion? The British state has got to go if Britain is to progress socially as well as economically!

The Day The World Took Off: the roots of the industrial revolution

Sally & David Dugan

Channel 4 Books

Macmillan, 2000

ISBN 0–7522–1870–0

Chapter 1 explains why Britain’s relatively flexible political system allowed the Industrial Revolution to “take off in Britain, rather than say, in France or China. Chapter 2 explains why fixed top-down poliltical structures strangle economic innovation. The implication is that the post-1945 adoption in Britain of such structures has strangled the British economy, and, therefore, a return to the more flexible pre-1914 system is needed for economic recovery. A meaningful non-national defence effort ought to “bootstrap this.

Hudson R. (2004) “Regional Devolution and regional; economic success: enabling myths and illusions about power; 30th Anniversary of the Establishment of the Geography Institute.

Roskilde University, 26th October 2004.

Ignores setting-up of Northern Development Company by Thatcher Government circa 1986, and its neglect by Major administration and apparent abolition by New Labour after 1997. Also ignores historical background: one Office of Lord President, one Grand Council, one unit!


The Governance of Economic Development In Northern England

J. Tomany & A Pike

UK Sparial Economics Research Centre

Again, talks around 1980s Thatcher Government policy. Therefore, fails to consider that The Blessed Margaret got something right!! However, does recommend, in effect, a return to the Northern Development Company (NDC)!

The main point from the above reports that we may not expect any Northern contribution to Britain’s non-national defence effort until the Northern economy once again begins to function effectively.

Further reading:

House of Commons Session 1987–88

Ref : HC 33HX

Inward Investment into Wales and its Interaction with Regional and EEC Policies

Minutes of Evidence

Wednesday 29 June 1988

Blows the above two documents out of the water! Chief witnesses were representatives of the Northern Development Company and Inward (which covered North-West England)

Royal Marines Comacchio Group URL:-



Statement of Scottish Nationalise Party defence policy.

This URL is a link to the Party’s website.


17 May 2011

A war of words has broken out over the SNP’s policy on the military after Defence Secretary Liam Fox said it was “worrying and a Labour MP branded it “delusional.

Says it all, really…


17 May 2011

More detail on the demolition of current SNP defence policy statements

Lions, Donkeys and Dinosaurs—Waste and Blundering in the Armed Forces

Lewis Page

Random House 2006

ISBN 0–434–01389–7



No doubt several copies are held in the management libraries of major international investors.

Air Forces Monthly June 2011

Editor: Gary Parsons

Key Publishing Ltd.

Page 9: article on major Dutch defence cuts. References to withdrawal of AS 532 Cougars, DC-10 transport and Patriot missile systems.

Air Forces Monthly July 2011

Editor: Gary Parsons

Key Publishing Ltd.

Pages 94–97 inclusive: Article by Kees van der Mark on Netherlands defence cuts, with particular reference to aviation.

Military Machines International

Editor: Ian Young

Key Publishing Ltd.

Pages 42–46 incl: article on Dutch Army

Pages 48–55 incl: article on new Canadian Leopard 2 tank fleet

Celtic Sea EEZ management material:


The following items are examples of EU funding of fisheries protection in action.

EU Common Fisheries Policy URL:



Example of the principle of 50% EU funding in action


Report on Scottish fisheries protection vessels

July 2012

1 Covered in great detail in the Guardian between April 1986 and June 1987.

2 Told to the author at the time by a fellow aficionado working in the MoD. The author’s reaction was ‘Salmond knows better than that!

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