Alister Jack says claims the Black Watch could be axed were 'unnecessary scaremongering'

Alister Jack has criticised reports that the Black Watch ever faced being axed and labelled them “unnecessary scaremongering”.

Alister Jack insisted The Black Watch has never been at risk of being scrapped.
Alister Jack insisted The Black Watch has never been at risk of being scrapped.

The Scottish Secretary today insisted at no point were the battalion considered for cuts, and suggested the claims were simply political.

Mr Jack was visiting RAF Lossiemouth in Moray today just one day after Defence Secretary Ben Wallace outlined a major overhaul of the armed forces including reducing the number of Army troops by 10,000.He said: “I can confirm there’s a merge of two regiments but all other cat badges as the Defence Secretary likes to refer to them are safe and secure.

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“We get all this nonsense about the Black Watch being under threat, trying to raise unnecessary concern and scaremongering.“Since I've been Secretary of State for Scotland I've been told many times and I've read many times that the Black Watch are under threat, but in all my discussions with the Defence Secretary the Black Watch has never been on the agenda.”

Plans unveiled by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) yesterday would leave the overall strength of the army at around 72,500, with other branches of the military braced to lose some “industrial age” capabilities, with older tanks, ships and warplanes to be axed or phased out early.

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Having spoken to troops at RAF Lossiemouth, which will now become home to three early warning and surveillance E-7 Wedgetail aircraft in 2023, Mr Jack insisted they understood the approach from the UK Government and were not against the cuts.

He said: “I'm travelling with the chief of the air staff and obviously there are troops here as well in Moray.“The threshold has dropped by 10,000, so from 82,000 to 72,0000, but the reality is that the current troops numbers and actual strength are 76,000 so it's a drop of 4,000 over the next 10 years.

“That will be done by retirement, rather than redundancy.

“More money will go into kit, into drones, into robots and these sorts of things, technology is the future.

“Everyone I’ve spoken to today think that’s perfectly sensible.”

The details emerged despite a 2019 pledge from the Prime Minister that “we will not be cutting our armed services in any form.”

Mr Johnson added at the time: “We will be maintaining the size of our armed services."

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