Costing defence

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Rather than being concerned about defence in an independent Scotland, George Grubb
(Letters, 13 August) should 
perhaps consider the present 
situation under Westminster.

The Scottish share of the Westminster defence budget 
is around £4 billion of the 
nearly £50bn Ministry of 
Defence budget.

In addition, there are the Home Office costs of security and intelligence services, which probably cost Scotland around £2bn. What do we get for this?

We get nuclear weapons which can only be used in retaliation against about eight other nuclear countries and since they are all based in a single, trackable submarine, could be neutralised before another country strikes us.

We do not get any navy ships patrolling Scottish waters on a regular basis and instead have a force projection navy incapable of home defence.

We get air resources which even in the height of the Cold War numbered less than 300 interceptors, of which only a small proportion were in complete readiness against more than 12,000 Warsaw Pact aircraft.

Even now, in more relaxed times, we still cannot provide an adequate air defence of our shores, with large gaps in the coverage.

In the 21st century, defence is about threat analysis and providing counters. Uniformed 
armies are no longer the 
weapon of choice, and small 
unattributable terrorist groups can cause more damage than a full invasion.

Fundamentalist terrorism and cyber-interference are the greatest threats. Scotland, like most countries its size, has few enemies and, unlike Westminster, with its imperialistic desire to interfere and attract enemies, can be respected especially if it concentrates on humanitarian aid and conflict resolution.

It can do this and provide an adequate home defence force for a lot less than £1bn if it avoids the profiteering lobbying of the defence industries.

That surplus £5bn can do a lot for our children and our elderly and still reduce taxes on hard- working families.

Bruce D Skivington

Strath

Gairloch, Wester Ross

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