Your front page and article on the post-independence positioning report of the Defence Select Committee (27 September) fails to observe that behind most difficulties lie opportunities – all it requires is the courage to grasp them.
The likelihood is that after independence Scotland will build itself a fully integrated defence force equipped with appropriate and modern equipment, and a fledgling arms industry to supply it.
The best small arms in the world were once made in Dundee, and there is no reason to suspect that we cannot rise to that challenge again: Scots were always good at making things.
By contrast, the rump of the UK will still be saddled with defence concepts – particularly the three-service mentality – and contracts for inappropriate, outdated equipment suitable only for fighting modern versions of 18th, 19th and 20th century wars.
What we will need is an integrated defence force equipped to discharge its duties on the ground, at sea and in the air – one administration and logistics entity, not three – and although initially equipped from abroad, increasingly dependent upon our own – small and efficient – defence industry.
Where will Scotland obtain its submarines, the report asks. It won’t. We don’t need submarines, only the ability to sink those which threaten us, although for the life of me I can’t imagine where they’d come from!
The opportunity has arrived to consign the historical concepts of regiment, squadron and fleet to the museum, to integrate three arms of a multi-functional service to one distinctive entity charged and trained with external defence, support of UN peacekeeping or relief operations commensurate with our size and wealth – but no more – the support of the police in respect of internal acts of terrorism, and what we once called civil defence.
A democratic defence force where no-one rises to officer except through the other ranks, supported, perhaps by a territorial force raised by limited term National Service. That would work, and, it seems to me, would be worth voting for.
Isn’t there a 19th question we ought to ask the Scottish Government about a defence policy “for possible independence”?
Taking stock of international relations today, who is likely to be Scotland’s enemy in the foreseeable future?
It isn’t too fanciful to suppose any threat to Scotland’s security is unlikely to be another country.
From the horrendous events of recent history, it is reasonable to say the biggest threat is probably from terrorism.
Does a small country like Scotland really need an army, navy and air force with hi-tech weapons to combat terrorism?
Arguably, the realpolitik of defence suggests scarce resources may be better spent on counter-terrorism measures, espionage and intelligence-gathering at home and abroad.
Old Chapel Walk