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Scotland - Military Personnel

The Scottish Government envisaged a phased approach to reaching the level of Scottish defence forces. This will be achieved through a staged process involving 7,500 regular and 2,000 reserve personnel at the point of independence, rising to around 10,000 regulars and 3,500 reserves by the end of the five years following independence, subject to consideration in the strategic defence review.

The Government planned that, 10 years after independence, Scotland will have a total of 15,000 regular and 5,000 reserve personnel across land, air and maritime forces. The final force levels will provide capacity for Scotland to make enhanced contributions to international partnership operations.

As for sailors to man the navy’s ships, historically about 10 per cent of RN personnel have been Scottish, but there is no guarantee that Scots serving with the RN would transfer to the SN en masse come independence, so recruitment – as well as the correct mix of crew skills matched to ships – might well be an issue.

Scotland contributes approximately 13 per cent of the British Army’s strength, so Scots are now overrepresented in the army at least. The population of Scotland was roughly 10.5 per cent of that of Great Britain.

A Scottish defense force will, immediately upon formation, require access to training facilities and instruction for its new recruits, NCOs, officers and specialists such as engineers, medics, and other trades. This would present a significant challenge as the British Army, for example, does not presently depend on any schools in Scotland within its individual and collective training regime.

Beyond the training needs of new recruits, there would be significant costs associated with providing the career training for personnel on the equipment that a Scottish defence force had inherited or procured. For the Royal Navy and RAF, almost all of the career training is delivered south of the border on type specific training rigs and courses, which would either have to be replicated in Scotland or access negotiated. This would represent a major resource burden within a relatively small defence budget.

Another risk associated with separation is that those service personnel transferring from UK Armed Forces may not have the skill sets they require depending on the equipment acquired by Scottish forces. For example, what would happen if no Typhoon aircraft technicians wished to transfer to a Scottish air force which had inherited these aircraft.

In "A' the Blue Bonnets", Crawford and Marsh suggested that the most significant training deficit a Scottish defence force would face would be the absence of an area for manoeuvring mechanised forces. They suggested that an arrangement to train the Scottish army's mechanised forces outside Scotland would be one solution perhaps with a reciprocal arrangement for access to other training opportunities in Scotland.

Ministry of Defence employment – civilian and service – in Scotland has fallen from 24,680 in 2000 to 15,340 in 2013, a proportionately larger fall than across the UK as a whole. Consequently, Scotland’s share of UK-based Ministry of Defence personnel had fallen from 9.2 percent to 7.5 percent over this period.

The Scottish Government respects the service of current personnel. We will ensure that all current service personnel will be eligible for a post in the Scottish defence forces, though they will not need to take it up.

All service personnel will have the reassurance that they will not face compulsory redundancy during their service contract. This Scottish Government would examine how the terms and conditions of service personnel could be improved, for example through the official representation of service personnel.

Where whole or part of units are identified for transfer to Scottish defence forces, the Scottish Government will ensure that all current UK service personnel within those units can remain with them for at least a transitional period, where they wish to do so. A similar approach will be followed for reserve personnel and the important role of cadet forces will also be maintained.

The aim will be a phased and responsible approach to the position of those currently serving in the UK armed forces who might wish to transfer to Scottish defence forces. Some may transfer immediately, while others would continue in their current role. It is the intention that terms and conditions remain harmonised through this period. Any sensible approach would recognise that, at the end of that process, it is highly likely that citizens from the rest of the UK, Ireland and from other Commonwealth countries would be serving in an independent Scotland’s defence forces. Though it would ultimately be a decision for the rest of the UK, we also expect that Scottish citizens will continue to serve in UK forces if they wish to, as citizens of Ireland and the Commonwealth do.

Reserve personnel make a valuable contribution to defence capability and will do so in an independent Scotland. The proposals include a baseline requirement for around 1,700 reserve personnel at the point of independence. However as there are currently an estimated 2,200 trained reserve personnel in Scotland263, it would be both feasible and desirable to increase numbers beyond the baseline that requirement suggests, in order to build flexibility and enhance capability. In the longer term the Government envisages the reserve force building to 5,000 personnel after 10 years.

As of 2012 there were 6,700 military and civilian jobs at HMNB Clyde. Through its role as a main conventional naval base and Joint Forces HQ, this Scottish Government expected that, at the conclusion of transitional arrangements, the number of Scottish military personnel at Faslane will approximately match military numbers there currently. Those military personnel will be supported by a significant number of civilian personnel. During the transitional period large numbers of personnel from the rest of the UK will also be based there. In addition, work to reconfigure Faslane as a conventional naval base is expected to involve major construction activity, and related jobs, in the area.

The Scottish Government expected that the proportion of the budget allocated for procurement of single use military equipment will be at least equivalent to that currently allocated by the Westminster Government (14 percent in 2012/13). In the first term of the independent Scottish Parliament it was expected that personnel numbers in Scottish defence forces to be steadily increasing. Therefore during this period personnel costs would initially be lower and it would be possible to boost the proportion of the budget allocated to procurement over the first part of that period.

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Page last modified: 26-06-2016 19:00:15 ZULU