1. Opening Statement
a. General Dannatt was a controversial Army leader who was rarely off the television screens of the nation at the time of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. He was criticized by the press for the failure of the British troops to take their main objective, Basra in the Iraq invasion and again at the start of the Afghanistan war due to the very high casualty rates suffered by the army.
b. His pattern of behavior, leaking information about helicopter shortages etc (however justified) revealed that he saw himself as more of a politician than a soldier. The fact he didn’t resign and then go public says more about his moral, “courage”. Servicemen can only have authority with the public and the politicians so long as they are willing and trusted to criticize in private and are seen as above politics.
2. The New Scottish Defence Force (Lord Dannatts view)
a. I studied the, Scottish government’s, “White Paper” on Scottish defence requirements and formed the view that the future defence of Scotland seemed to be the weakest link. A fundamental requirement of government is to provide fully for the security and defence of the state and its citizens. However, when the SNP says it can do that for between £2 billion and £2.5 billion a year, it reveals that it has little or no understanding of the real costs of defence. The costs of the commitments that the SNP has made about the size of a future Scottish defence force and inheriting, “Scotland’s share” of current UK defence assets just do not add up.
b. Manning all current Scottish regiments and “restoring” former Scottish regiments, as pledged earlier in the campaign, plus providing appropriate combat support units and some Special Forces, would take up the majority of the 15,000 Scottish defence force posts budgeted for by Alex Salmond on her future army alone. What about an independent Scotland’s navy or air force? And what about command and control, intelligence, countering terrorist and cyber threats, let alone protecting Scotland’s 11,000 miles of coastline and her airspace?
c. Scotland’s “share” of current assets – argued by the SNP to be a “fair” allocation of the UK’s current defence assets would give her: five Chinook helicopters, 10 Typhoon jets, two Hercules C-130 transports, just over one-and-a-half destroyers or frigates, half an Astute submarine, one-sixth of an aircraft carrier, and just under one Red Arrow! What nonsense. These capabilities make sense only within an integrated UK.
d. Furthermore, the SNP’s pledge to remove the UK nuclear-deterrent submarines from their Clyde base by 2020 puts Scotland outside the nuclear-deterrent umbrella. Does that matter? I don’t know, but equally – and far more importantly – I do not know how the future is going to unfold, and nor does Mr Salmond. He is wanting to take the Scottish people on a gambling trip – why? Is it pride, or is it prejudice? Neither motive makes much sense in defence and security terms. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/scottish-independence/11093425/Scottish-referendum-Scottish-soldiers-have-died-to-keep-the-UK-together.html
3. The New Scottish Defence Force (My Reply)
a. Lord Dannatt’s approach to the task of creating a new Scottish Defence Force (SDF) is influenced heavily by his own torturous experiences in the UK Armed forces. Although always provided with a very generous financial budget the UK armed forces has always been hopelessly over committed financially due to a perpetual insidious inter-service rivalry and a long history of incompetent acquisition, which routinely ended up in massive overspending and/or stockpiling of useless equipment, clothing, footwear, weapons ammunition, vehicles etc on a truly enormous scale.
b. The final make up and financing of the (SDF) is yet to be finalized but there would be a unified single command structure ensuring elimination of the wasteful practices of the UK armed forces. Detailed planning could only reasonably begin AFTER the outcome of the referendum is known and competent senior military personnel are in place. But £2Billion of the £20Billion, set aside for the purchase of the much mooted replacement Trident System would be transferred to Scotland, together with 10% of the overall defence budget. Clearly it would be in the best interests of Scotland and UKr if the initial transfer of finance would be in kind not money, (perhaps being set against the initial agreed budgetary transfer.
4. The Emotional Argument (Lord Dannatt)
a. And what about the Scottish people serving in the UK Armed Forces today? Those currently serving joined a fully professional set of UK Armed Forces committed to the defence of the entire United Kingdom and its wider interests. They swore a personal allegiance to the Queen, and not to any government of any political party or any particular part of the United Kingdom. There is no doubt that as professional military people, Scotland’s soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines are far better off within our current UK Armed Forces. Do the Scottish members of those highly professional Armed Forces really want now to be part of a local home defence force, outside Nato and the EU, along the lines of Denmark and Norway?
b. Between 1969 and 2007, Scottish soldiers fought and died to keep Northern Ireland within the overall United Kingdom. The IRA fought a 38-year campaign to take Northern Ireland out of the United Kingdom and join the six northern counties of the island of Ireland to the Republic in the South of Ireland as one sovereign state. Do the families of Scottish soldiers who lost their lives between 1969 and 2007 to preserve the territorial integrity of the United Kingdom now just say, “Well, it no longer matters”? I cannot speak for them, but I wonder just how much thought, appreciation and recognition is given to the memory of those who have fought and brought this United Kingdom of ours to where it is today, and where it could be in the future.
c. Scottish soldiers have fought over several centuries and in so many campaigns to preserve the territorial integrity of their country from external threat, but in the Northern Ireland campaign more recently, they fought against internal threat, but what about today? I worry particularly about the extent that we will be letting them down if Scotland disappears from our country, just on the whim of a few thousand voters willing to gamble on an uncertain future rather than staying within the United Kingdom, whose track record is second to none in Europe. The United Kingdom is what it is today because of the common commitment of the English, the Welsh, the Scots and the Northern Irish – is it really right that a few thousand Scots should change the destiny of us all? And in the context of the Scottish soldiers who died to preserve the Union in the face of an armed challenge in Northern Ireland, is there not a democratic opportunity now to preserve the country we love in a better way? Just five million Scots resident in Scotland – or about 50 per cent of them – seem to want to redefine the identity of more than 60 million of the rest of us, and that of another couple of million Scots living outside Scotland who, like the rest of us, have no vote in this history-changing decision. Do they really have the moral right to do so?
5. The Emotional Argument (My Reply)
a. Any member of the existing UK armed forces would be allowed to elect to remain with the UKr armed forces. But all aspects and title of Regiments/units identified with Scotland would transfer to the newly formed (SDF). Recruitment and training off any shortfall in numbers would be achieved over time without undue difficulty since there are many thousands of ex-forces now looking for jobs due to the massive early redundancy programme, visited upon these loyal armed forces by the Con/Dem government. Scotland will join NATO at the outset and play a full part in the defence of the alliance, including, (as is the case for just about all other members) a nuclear shelter provided by the USA.
b. Raising the past troubles of Northern Ireland is jingoism and has no place in any discussion regarding the Scottish referendum on independence the rules of which have been discussed at length and agreed between Westminster and Holyrood. History will judge events and sometime in the future praise or dam the actions of UK governments in the period 1969-2005. The armed forces, being instruments of politicians and Westminster will be exempt from the foregoing.
c. In terms of other conflicts that Scottish forces have been drawn into by Westminster politicians I have attached references so that my views on the past are clear. In 1707 England stole a nation and hijacked the youth of Scotland to fight England’s wars of expansion.
A Heap of references for study so that a full picture of Lord Dannatt can be gathered.