Scots armed forces cut despite UK government pledge

The MoD claim the figures are natural fluctuations. Picture: Phil Wilkinson

The MoD claim the figures are natural fluctuations. Picture: Phil Wilkinson

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NEW Scottish Government figures have revealed that employment in the armed services north of the Border has fallen by 1,000 in the last year.

The number of military personnel now stands at 9,400, having dropped below 10,000 for the first time and down 9.5 per cent from 2014.

The cuts are even greater when compared to 2010, when David Cameron became Prime Minister and the number of armed service personnel in Scotland stood at 12,200 - 2,800 above the latest figure.

The reductions come despite promises by the UK government that the number of personnel would increase.

The Ministry of Defence last night insisted that the numbers would be up by 2020 when the restructuring of the military is completed, with all Royal Navy submarines due to be based at Faslane on the Clyde.

Previously, sources close to Defence Secretary Michael Fallon have also let it be known that he envisages no further reductions to the military footprint in Scotland.

However, with a second strategic defence and security review (SDSR) due to be announced later this year following the one in 2010 which saw the armed services cut by 30,000, there are concerns that numbers could fall further.

SNP defence spokesman Brendan O’Hara highlighted that Chancellor George Osborne had just visited Faslane to make it clear that the replacement of the Trident nuclear will go ahead despite widespread opposition in Scotland.

He said that the reductions in conventional forces in Scotland were unjustified while money was being spent on nuclear weapons.

He said: “In the space of one month we have heard the Chancellor announce £500 million to upgrade the nuclear deterrent base at Faslane, meanwhile UK government cuts have left our armed forces numbers at a record low. David Cameron has his priorities completely wrong. Over the duration of his time as Prime Minister we have seen year-on-year cuts to armed personnel numbers - a staggering loss of 2,800 jobs in just five years.”

He went on: “These cuts leave the UK overstretched, over-exposed and under-protected. Our conventional defence assets are being sidelined by the UK government’s obsession with nuclear weapons.

“This is not only immoral but leaves a significant capability gap in our armed forces.”

Since 2010, some 20,000 redundancies have been made in the army, and a further 5,000 each in the Royal Navy and RAF.

In Scotland, Leuchars and Kinloss have been closed as RAF bases and instead house army units.

A plan to build a “super barracks” south of Edinburgh was also cancelled.

However, the Ministry of Defence said that the changes in figures were just part of a natural fluctuation in numbers of personnel.

An MoD spokeswoman said: “Numbers of personnel throughout the UK, including Scotland, will fluctuate as the military make the necessary changes and unit-moves to deliver the ‘Future Force 2020’ target strength. On current plans, by 2020 Scotland will be home to all of the Royal Navy’s submarines, one of the army’s seven ‘Adaptable Force Brigades’ and one of three RAF fast jet main operating bases.

“This demonstrates our commitment to Scotland and to its continued vital role in defence.”

The figures come ahead of a major speech next week on the future of the armed forces by Mr Fallon in London.

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