Scotland politics

Scottish independence: Salmond details Scottish Defence Force plan

Typhoon fighters
Image caption Mr Salmond said a Scottish Defence Force would have a single air base

Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond has said the UK defence review has produced a template of how armed forces would look in an independent Scotland.

He said the setup of one naval base, one air base and one mobile armed brigade was "exactly the configuration" required for a Scottish Defence Force.

Mr Salmond previously fought to retain all three of Scotland's air force bases.

The UK defence review is making cuts to plug a £38bn budget shortfall.

Under the terms of the Strategic Defence and Security Review, announced in 2010, the navy and the RAF have to cut 5,000 jobs each by 2015, the Army 7,000 and the Ministry of Defence 25,000 civilian staff.

RAF Lossiemouth was saved from closure under the cuts, but RAF Kinloss in Moray will shut as an air base and will be taken over by the Army.

Mr Salmond, whose government wants an independence referendum in Autumn 2014, had previously called on the UK government to accept the "overwhelming case" for retaining operations at Scottish air bases.

The first minister told BBC Scotland: "The configuration of the Army in Scotland, the mobile brigade, which is the outcome of the defence review, looks exactly like the configuration you'd want for a Scottish defence force - so that's one naval base, one aircraft base and a mobile armed brigade."

He added: "The great argument in favour of having a Scottish Defence Force is two-fold - one, you wouldn't have to have the biggest concentration of nuclear weapons in Western Europe situated in Scotland, which many people support the removal, and secondly of course, we'd have the right to decide whether or not to participate in international engagements.

Meanwhile, UK Defence Secretary Phillip Hammond said SNP plans to take some British military units into a Scottish Defence Force under independence, were "laughable".

And he said an independent Scotland would have to bear a proportion of the costs for removing Britain's nuclear weapons from the Faslane naval base on the Clyde.

Hitting back, the first minister said: "Only somebody with the arrogance of a Westminster politician would say to the Scottish people, apparently in all sobriety, that you'd place and station weapons of mass destruction in Scotland over a period of half a century, impose substantial clean-up costs and then try to send Scotland the bill.

"I don't think that's a feasible position."

Shadow Defence Secretary Jim Murphy said: "This raises huge questions about separation. Scotland knows that leaving the UK would be a huge blow to Scottish defence communities."

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