Scottish independence: Forces ‘could lack manpower’

Air Marshal Iain McNicoll has questioned Scotland's ability to raise a fighting force. Picture: MOD
Air Marshal Iain McNicoll has questioned Scotland's ability to raise a fighting force. Picture: MOD
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A DEFENCE force for an independent Scotland could be “short of people”, according to the man who was until recently second in charge of the RAF.

Retired Air Marshall Iain McNicoll, originally from Dundee, said he would not have joined a Scottish defence force because of its lack of size, but would not have wanted to join a rest of the UK force either.

Speaking to the House of Commons defence committee yesterday, he claimed that recruitment could be the most “difficult aspect” for an independent Scotland.

He told MPs: “I don’t think I would have been satisfied with a career in the likely size of a Scottish air force but, equally, I am not sure I would have served in a remainder of the UK air force.”

He added: “I think Scotland would most likely be short of people.”

Rear Admiral Martin Alabaster, who was until recently in charge of the navy in Scotland, also appeared before the committee. He said that Scots serving in specialist areas such as nuclear submarines would not have a role in a Scottish defence force.

However, both agreed with many of the key assumptions underpinning current SNP
defence policy despite declaring themselves as “unionists”.

They dismissed concerns about training facilities, pointing out that Cranwell, Dartmouth and Sandringham train officers from other countries.

Air Marshall McNicoll said that one twelfth of the training facilities “are Scottish”.

The rear admiral suggested that a Scottish navy could help support Scottish shipbuilding.