Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Assessment on the proposals for a Scottish Defence Force (Part 1)


The Scottish Government has put forward its proposed plans for independence, and the way Scotland would be governed in the event of it becoming an independent country. At the heart of these plans were details on the future structure of a Scottish Defence Force (SDF), and how it would be structured.

Humphrey has long had a close personal interest in this debate and has watched the arguments in favour and against with interest. He is genuinely neutral on the outcome of the referendum, believing that the final decision is a matter for the voters concerned, although he retains a keen interest in the proposed structure of any proposed SDF.  

The Think Defence website has helpfully summarised the findings of the paper on Defence matters, and it is well worth a read (the link can be found HERE). In summary though, over the 10 years after independence (2016-2026) the plan is to grow an SDF of some 15000 regular and 5000 reserve personnel operating on an at independence budget of some £2.5 billion per year. Having reviewed the paper though, the author has significant and serious concerns about the issues that were not raised, and wants to try and highlight them here over a series of short articles. The first part will focus on the SDF Navy, then the next part on the Air Force, and then finally some wider conclusions.

At a most basic level, the paper appears to fall foul of what can be described as the ‘fantasy fleet’ syndrome so often found on the internet. In other words, people have taken an order of battle, hived of a reasonable sounding level of equipment and assumed that this would make a good defence force. That’s a great theory, but in reality its likely to be far more complicated than this.

For starters, the British Armed Forces are the product of hundreds of years of evolution, procurement and support. They operate a closely integrated set of equipment, underpinned by a well developed training network, and supported by a very complex set of support contracts to ensure availability. Due to the numbers and amounts of equipment in service, costs can be calculated using economies of scale, and planned workflow, in a way that smaller sized support cannot.

A nascent SDF would find itself operating a truly eclectic collection of units which are not necessarily the most appropriate for its situation. For instance, the proposal that the Navy takes on two Type 23 frigates seems a little odd. The Type 23 is one of the worlds most advanced anti-submarine warfare escorts, and designed to be a submarine killer par excellence. To use it to best effect requires a well trained crew, who have a range of extremely specialised skills. Assuming that no one is forced at independence to join the SDF, the challenge will be recruiting and retaining a core of niche skills to actually employ the vessel in her intended manner. This includes the engineers, weapon systems maintainers, the warfare department and those with the skills and experience at all ranks and rates to use the vessel in its intended manner.

The Type 23 has a crew of 185 people, and a very rough rule of thumb is that for every person at sea on a ship, you need at least two at home in other roles to ensure support and training can be carried out. This means that the SDF will need to have around 1100 sailors in the system just to keep their two Type 23s available for sea. The table below shows the current crew totals for the proposed fleet, plus the shore contingency required to actually keep a fleet operational. It should be noted that in the RN, the entire figure for the surface navy is roughly 15000 personnel to support some 70 warships.

Class
Complement
Total required
Fleet total
Type 23 (x2)
185
370
1110
Sandown MCMV (x4)
34
136
408
Bay Class LSD (x1)
70 RFA
70
70
River Class OPV  (x2)
30
601
180


636
1768


Even if they have the bodies there is no guarantee that they will have the right skills to do the job. It’s a harsh reality that Scotland does not currently house any RN school, such as HMS SULTAN or COLLINGWOOD. At independence the SDF would find themselves without any training establishments worthy of the name. While building a basic recruit training facility may be easy (if expensive), the cost to build something like the Maritime Warfare Centre in COLLINGWOOD, or the engineering facilities at SULTAN. This means that from the outset the SDF is going to be reliant on either building a new and very expensive shore infrastructure to train and develop its personnel, or be reliant on the Royal Navy for assistance. The other issue is whether the RN would willingly expose what would be foreign nationals to all parts of the capability of the system they inherit. One must assume that on transfer to Scotland, the vessels would have their capabilities ‘dumbed down’ to ensure they do not come with the same capability as their RN equivalent (particularly in electronic warfare and other matters). The result is that the SDF would operate vessels on its own, and would probably find the RN unwilling to train them to full effect on the systems UK Eyes only capabilities.

The problem with relying on the Royal Navy is that with Scotland now a foreign country, their personnel would almost certainly be charged the full rate for access to training establishments, which quickly racks up into millions of pounds. The RN training pipeline is in high demand from nations across the world, and there is no certainty at all that the RN would place good relations with the SDF over many other navies, and no certainty that places could be found for the SDF sailors. In other words, at independence, the SDF has no means of training its next generation of sailors in anything from initial naval training, through to  how to support and fight their ship.

Similarly, the issue of maintenance will be a complex one. There are no T23s based in Scotland, which means that a great deal of money will be spent creating a permanent support facility for the class in Scotland. In these circumstances the SDF will need to negotiate and establish support contracts, similar to the ones used by the RN, and pay to put in place the complex web of support arrangements in order to keep the vessels available for service. In a small procurement and support budget, it is hard to see where the money will come from for this sort of activity.

The sheer running costs of the vessels will also be a challenge – on average it costs about £20 million per year (source THEY WORK FOR YOU) to keep a Type 23 at sea, and about £3 million for MCMVs and patrol craft.  To keep the Scottish Navy afloat, you are looking at an annual running cost of around £60 million – before you consider salary costs of the crew and the shore support infrastructure to go with it. On a relatively small budget of £2.5 billion, it is easy to see how much of a cost it would be just to keep the ships at sea, let alone deploy them.

The upgrade of ships like the Type 23s or the MCMVs is going to be a challenge. Both classes are currently undergoing complicated and expensive updates to keep them at the cutting edge of technology. Is the SDF prepared to buy into this upgrade process, accepting that it will struggle to train the personnel to use it for best effect, or does it want to instead use older hulls, but accept the challenges of managing an aging weapons stockpile which could be highly expensive to support over time?

Even the most basic issues, like where the Tugs and support ships come from will be a problem. Its often forgotten that the Royal Navy doesn’t actually own any tugs nowadays, and that they are instead provided by Serco Denholm under contract. These are not for the SDF to inherit, so even basic issues like who provides the berthing, sullage and in port services that a modern Navy requires needs to be answered. The widescale privatisation of defence support across the UK means that the SDF as a whole will not inherit a single armed force. Rather it will need to do a lot of negotiations with companies to provide services previously paid for by the UK government – one suspects this could have a large impact on the budget in the first few years.

The final question is what does one do with a navy like this? The lack of proper training facilities, the likely difficulty in recruiting and retaining specialist crews, and the huge costs of putting in place support arrangements. All this seems to indicate that this would be a Navy either trying to operate kit than it cannot use or maintain, or being so hobbled by debt early in life to establish itself that it will never use the equipment it gets.

An initial look at the laydown of the SDF would suggest that from a maritime perspective, there will not be enough people, not enough money for running the fleet properly and also a major conflict between short term investment in hulls, or long term investment in high end training. The figure of 2000 people is far too low to support a Navy of this capability, and one feels that there will not be enough money either – particularly when other running costs are taken into account.


In the next in this short series, Humphrey will focus on the Air Force, and then finally consider some wider issues which do not seem to have been considered in the round. 

41 comments:

  1. I wouldn't waste your breath, Sir Humph. The Scots have no intention of spending any of their own money on a Defense Force. Either they negotiate what they want from a competent provider or they will trumpet to the Cairngorms about the total irresponsibility and selfishness of the Anglo Saxons and their Rape of Scotland after the Second Jacobean Rebellion. Like you, I hold for no side, but I value the current relationship, treasure its history and hope that the split never occurs.
    However, the next Defense Review will ave to consider how England would respond to an aggressive attack on our energy supplies north of the border.
    Send a Gun Boat perhaps?

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    1. I agree - the underlying aim is to present an undeliverable plan, blame the English when it is not delivered, and spend nothing confident in the knowledge that the rest of the UK will need to defend them in order to defend themselves...utterly cynical at every level.

      aka GNB

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    2. @ Derek McBride, you say 'the Scots' like we're some sort of amorphous blob when I think you mean 'the Nationalists', who do indeed want to blame the English for everything. :-)

      Did a similar calculation myself yesterday, although it was somewhat rougher than Sir H's, and came to the same conclusion. The figures for manpower hold no water at all and a great deal is left unsaid.

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  2. The proposed Scottish navy is 2000 regulars. Your calculation shows they'd need at least 1768 regulars. And therefore (you say) it would be dramatically understrength.
    What am I missing?

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    1. The figure of 1768 only covers the requirement to provide crews for the ships, not the wide range of support functions, training, shore bases, and all the other roles needed to keep ships at sea. Its worth noting that the RN requires over 15000 personnel to keep roughly 70 vessels in Commission, despite there only being some 5000 crew required to man all these surface vessels.

      The problem is that the current manpower totals give you enough to put the ships to sea and very little headroom to do anything else.

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    2. I see.

      Thing is, though I've just used that argument to explain why the Royal Norwegian Navy couldn't possibly exist. The RNN has "70 vessels, including 5 heavy frigates, 6 submarines, 14 patrol boats, 4 minesweepers, 4 minehunters, 1 mine detection vessel, 4 support vessels and 2 training vessels" and also includes the Coast Guard, which has 14 more OPVs and inshore patrol vessels.
      Total crew required to man all ships: 1024 for the Navy proper and 385 for the coastguard. (from the complements given on Wiki)
      Therefore, total crew required to keep them manned on the three-to-one rule: 4227.

      Total personnel in the Royal Norwegian Navy, which includes the Coast Guard: 3700.

      You see the problem here...

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    3. Your arguments appear to be based on a 5 year old Wikipedia page, which also notes that the RNoN requires over 9000 personnel up to 32000 personnel on full mobilisation. Its a predominantly conscript based force which relies heavily on reservists to bring its capabilities up to full strength.
      The figure of 3700 keeps it going during peacetime, but if I recall correctly, many of the smaller ships are in reserve, and others have reduced manning.

      The other point to note is that the RNoN like other navies already has an existing infrastructure - the SDF would not beyond a single naval base. The RNoN has a training pipeline, HQ and all the other support functions needed to operate - it has reduced its manpower over the years too.
      By contrast the SDF would have none of this and would need manpower to bring these establishments up to strength. I would argue that any SDF laydown would require a surge of manpower at first, then drawing down over time. Otherwise it would struggle to meet all the tasks placed on it with the arbitrary manpower cap.
      I'll be clear here - I don't think an SDF couldnt work, I don't think that an SDF could work with the manpower constraints currently predicted for it.

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    4. "I would argue that any SDF laydown would require a surge of manpower at first, then drawing down over time."

      Ah. OK, that's a different argument. Fair enough then.

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    5. Since the UK would probably charge the extortionate international rate for training Scots personnel in Fareham, Dartmouth, Devonport etc, I wonder if the Scots would find they would have to seek cheaper training elsewhere? Ireland is one possibility. In fact if the SNP were more realistic and prepared to go for a less ambitious force then there might be a lot to be said for sharing most military training with the Irish. I was amazed at the idea that they think they could build and operate 4 x Type 26 frigates within their proposed budget. Six-eight OPVs is more like it.

      Ironically one of the main arguments for independence has been to restore the 'lost' Scots regimental names for political reasons, yet the proposed Army OOB shows fewer infantry battalions than they currently have now. As for the idea of having a tiny marine unit... The whole Chapter 6 of the White Paper struck me as uncosted, infantile and at times delusional. They really need to seriously lower their sights. Or stay in the UK.

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    6. Why would you expect the SDF to not just continue operations along side rUk? You would think it in the best interest of the whole of Britain to do so. Currently we train alongside many of our allies especially on matters of defense.

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  3. "One must assume that on transfer to Scotland, the vessels would have their capabilities ‘dumbed down’ to ensure they do not come with the same capability as their RN equivalent "

    Why must one assume this?

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    1. All nations warships have certain equipment, capabilities and technology that is classified as 'EYES ONLY' - and in the same way as export missiles are sold with reduced performance compared to the designing nation, there are some areas where the providing nation will not accept any other nation having an equivalent capability.
      In the case of these ships, it seems likely that the RN would reasonably not wish to see highly sensitive capabilities fall into the hands of a foreign power (Scotland). No matter how amicable the parting, an independent Scotland will be a foreign nation and treated as such.

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    2. Not only foreign...but also less than friendly...we would not, for example have provided Radar to the Irish Republic in 1939; because despite the ostensibly "friendly neutrality" of their Government we knew full well that there were some individuals within it who would miss no opportunity to do us harm. In an SNP led Scotland the risk would come from those who openly hope that if we leave Faslane we will be forced to give up CASD against our own wishes...we would need to be very careful about anything we shared with the SDF in terms of technology or intelligence that might give useful insights in that area.

      Please note I am referring to the SNP and their supporters in all my comments on this.

      aka GNB

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    3. "In the case of these ships, it seems likely that the RN would reasonably not wish to see highly sensitive capabilities fall into the hands of a foreign power (Scotland)."

      This would be subject to negotiation, though. I'm sure the RN wouldn't want to give up any of its ships at all, but it's going to have to. You're talking as though it's a fait accompli that obviously Scotland won't be able to take its share of the UK armed forces in the form of fully functional kit, based on a (dubious) analogy with arms sales. Did this happen in other secessions? Did the Czechs insist on the Slovaks not getting fully functional aircraft in 1993?
      Quite apart from anything else, if you're going to be tearing out the nice bits of the kit before you hand it over, that's going to have to be taken into account in calculating a "fair share". A Type 23 with half the radar gone is not worth as much as a fully functional Type 23.

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    4. The problem for any Scottish force is simple - most advanced military kit will come with 'UK EYES' capabilities (same as other nations). With Scotland no longer part of the UK, they will not be able to use certain functions or capabilities. This isn't saying that a T23 would turn up missing a radar, but that it is reasonable to presume that some of the high end war fighting functionality or capabilities in electronic warfare etc currently only available to UK vessels will probably not be included.

      If Scotland choses to become a foreign power then it needs to accept that it is no longer in the UK EYES ONLY club. In a similar vein, it is not certain that ITAR regulations would allow some foreign kit to be transferred to Scotland - the 23s have US derived material on them (e.g Harpoon) - would the US Govt

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    5. In a similar vein, it is not certain that ITAR regulations would allow some foreign kit to be transferred to Scotland

      Even if Scotland's a NATO member? You think there's a serious chance that the US would block the transfer of a few Harpoons from one NATO ally to another? Come on. The world and his wife have Harpoons.

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    6. There are various different types of Harpoons out there. While this may sound a minor point, its actually quite an important one. There is no guarantee at all that foreign derived equipment will be approved for transfer to a new Scottish navy by other nations. ITAR is a complicated beast, and ignored at ones peril.
      Its really important to remember that this sort of transfer is not a transaction between UK and Scotland, but is a very complicated multi-national piece of work, and all manner of unexpected things could happen.

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    7. In addition to which NATO is a first-strike nuclear alliance...nobody can be certain that the proposed removal of CASD and the public rhetoric (and presumably private views) that accompany it will prove compatible with membership when reality bites - certainly not in the absence of a very serious contribution to maritime and air defence and an extremely measured negotiation with the UK about Faslane. The SNP is very much a late convert to NATO, and will have ground to make up if they are to be taken seriously by the key members of the Alliance (which include us!)

      aka GNB

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    8. Again, it would be in the best interest of the whole of Britain that we continue to work closely on matters of defense, that would obviously mean making sure that our forces can operate seamlessly together. All this talk of 'foreign' and 'English' is really staring to sound disturbing. Would we prefer an independent Scotland grow closer to a China or Russia, just out of spite?

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    9. We see Trident as central to our Foreign and Defence Policy - the SNP describe it as "an affront to human decency" and are determined that we should remove from Faslane at great trouble and expense - some hope that the consequence will be that we will have to give it up against our wishes, and despite the fact that no major UK political party supports that outcome. We were founder members of NATO and have been one of the cornerstones of the alliance ever since - the SNP leadership opposed NATO until less than a year ago, and only just secured a change of policy then - some amongst them still hope that negotiations will fail so that they can become neutral. We have always accepted their right to vote on independence - they claim the right to deny us a vote on a currency union that political leaders across the rest of the UK oppose...

      As far as I can see they are no friendlier to us than the Free State was in 1922, and need to be treated with the same caution and reserve in Military matters...especially anything that might allow them to create difficulties for the CASD...there is almost no limit to what CND enthusiasts will do on that front, and some of them will clearly be in Government if the SNP win...perhaps some who took Moscow Gold back in the 1960s and 1970s...

      aka GNB

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    10. The Scottish political establishment has already shown that it differs from the UK in several key respects - its preferred foreign policy, ambiguity over NATO, desire for closer links with Russia, economic and social policies (back to the social democracy of the 1960s), its determination to be rid of nuclear weapons and force the UK to unilaterally disarm, its underlying anglophobe attitudes, self-determination that it can use the pound regardless of UK wishes, its declared determination to sponge off UK renewable subsidies while reducing taxes to take away UK business,and its almost gleeful view of the resulting problems for the UK. GNB is right. An independent Scotland dominated by the SNP and left wing Labour Party will pursue policies antithetical to UK interests and must therefore expect a reaction.

      Independence means becoming a foreign country and Scotland must expect to be leant on by its much bigger neighbour. The SNP seems to think it will be business as normal (in fact business to Scotland's advantage), but in fact I think it may well be much closer to the dire state of Anglo-Irish relations in the 1920s-70s. Those of us who work in Scotland regularly are well aware of the changing attitude towards the UK and England specifically and it is not always pretty. Someone one said that a patriot is someone who loves his country; a nationalist is someone who hates other people's countries - and that seems to be about right where the SNP and many separatists are concerned. They have started a process that may not be in their long term interests, but they are too shortsighted to see that generating an English nationalist response could be a very unpleasant factor for them in future.

      If independence occurs the UK should be prepared to play hardball, including blocking EU and NATO membership and imposing tariffs on Scots products and border controls, until such time as Scotland proves amenable over issues such as Trident and the demarcation of the offshore EEZ. International relations is about pursuing national interests, not being pleasant to countries whose governments have shown you the door and then want to rub your nose in it.

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  4. Sir H, great post as always. As a long term server in the DE&S it always amuses/annoys me that politicians of all creeds and the public alike think defence kit is all about procurement, where in reality, as you are highlighting the real money is spent on support. It is an easy mistake to make and even the current head of DE&S didn't accept it until very recently, but the outcome is get support wrong and you quickly find you are cutting capabilities to keep others going.

    Just hope the Scottish people are given an understanding so that they can make an informed judgement.

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    1. Thanks - I totally agree that support is critical to any defence capability. As it was once put to me, the cost of running a military aircraft or vessel through its life is easily the equal, if not more, of buying it in the first place. We ignore support costs at our peril.

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  5. you appear to have a stalker:

    http://britisharmedforcesreview.wordpress.com/about/

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    1. I am always keen to see new defence blogs emerge, and while I don't necessarily agree with the sentiments expressed, I wish the author of that blog the very best of luck in their writing.

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  6. You're ignoring the Scottish Army...?

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    1. I don't feel I know enough on the proposed structure to comment with any authority on the Army issues. I'd rather leave that to the plethora of well informed commentators out there who can comment with far more authority than myself!

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  7. That gave me my best laugh today. Thanks.

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  8. Oh Dear. I think the Scots will get on just fine as long as they employ someone who knows support is part of procurement, not a separate entity, and funding should not be released until it is demonstrated full provision has been made for support. Now show me who makes this provision..... There isn't a Requirements Manager in DE&S who realises it is his job or knows how to do it.


    "As it was once put to me, the cost of running a military aircraft or vessel through its life is easily the equal, if not more, of buying it in the first place. We ignore support costs at our peril."

    Put to you only once? I should hope so too. I hope your reply was balls, it is nearer 80% and every MoD employee should know this.



    Transfer of technology was mentioned. This works both ways, I assume. Most Army optical systems are designed and manufactured in Glasgow. Typhoon radar was designed in Edinburgh, as was just about every other functional radar the MoD has ever bought, with one or two minor exceptions which MoD scientists developed, many of them Scots. Similarly, most aircraft/ship/vehicles with a display. Quite a few simulators. I'm not saying the Scots would withhold this. Far from it. They'd quite like to be able to advertise that a major world military force relied so heavily on their products. What remains of MoD may find themselves having to keep an eye on who the Scots decide to sell it to!

    I think you'll find, if the vote is Yes, that much of this Defence detail the No campaigners are spouting will be sorted out quite amicably. Scotland may decide a Coastal Defence Force something akin to Eire is more suitable (which in many respects would be an advance on what the MoD has now!) I cannot foresee an Expeditionary doctrine. I wonder, too, whether Mr Salmond will try to invoke the Auld Alliance with France, which would really get up London's nose!! You can just see the French being up for it. Talk about being caught between a rock and a hard place. The vitriol and pettiness will come at a much higher political level.

    Sorry, the ramblings of a strict neutral who has lived in both places.


    Finally, for Derek McBride. You let lose a broadside about the Scots and your version of history, then claim you "hold no side". I'd hate to see you in full-on bigot mode.



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    1. My guess is that MOD would 'persuade' List X companies to relocate south of the border on pain of being excluded from future contracts. Newcastle, Carlisle and even Berwick could do quite well out of this ion terms of jobs. In the latter two cases at least key Scots staff could live north of the border and commute to work in England.

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  9. "Chapter one, in which our hero demonstrates that bees cannot fly"

    As with the anonymous bod who wondered how Norway could achieve the impossible, so am I wondering how New Zealand does so. Unlike with Norway there is no language barrier and we can all read NZDF budgets and reports.

    The RNZN is not (or perhaps that should be not *necessarily*) much different, in terms of fleet crewing requirements, to the paper ships listed in the White Paper. It appears that the RNZN needed approximately 2,100 personnel in 2011-2012 to do much the same as the White Paper proposes to do with 2,000 plus an unknown number of civilians. Is that a major concern? I suspect not.

    Money-wise, the RNZN has an operating budget of NZD 570 million in the current fiscal year. It's always difficult to convert expenditure, but we can assume that the £ value of that in today's money is somewhere in the range of £300-450 million.

    Behind the scenes, the RNZN appears to have training and facilities commensurate with its ambitions. It even relies on our friends at Babcock to run its dockyard.

    Bees do indeed fly and I think we must conclude that New Zealand does have a navy. So in what sense does our host's opinion stack up against evidence from the real world?

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    1. Hi Angus thank you for your comments.
      My personal view is that the Enzo and other small navies can do with their resources now because of two things - firstly the investment has already been made over many decades to pay for the support facilities. Secondly they have been able to set up and reduce manpower over time.
      The problem an SPF would have is trying to set up and run such a force on a small budget where they have to simaltaneously find funds for things that all need to be created. You could do it with more manpower and money. You cannot do it on the proposed budget or manpower cap.

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    2. I'm not expecting an SDF to appear fully formed in the blink of an eye. I would be concerned if it did since it's not remotely necessary that it should. Even discounting NATO and the absence of threat, until the distant day that Trident f*cked right off, the MoD would of necessity remain very interested in Scotland's physical security. And I hope you won't be too offended when I say that I am not expecting the MoD to have everyone be packed up and ready to leave right away. Last time I checked, the army was still in Germany, more than twenty years after Third Shock Army and the rest of GSFG went home.

      As for the costs, I do not see the problem there. Unless the MoD planned to TUPE people on or before day zero (and some don't accept that the MoD would transfer anyone, or make any cuts) it's hard to see what a hypothetical defence budget might initially be spent on other than one-time start-up costs.

      But unless you're minded to suppose that the MoD would be hanging on to anything in Scotland without the Scottish Government's post-independence say-so, there are - even without Faslane - bases with the ability to accomodate a great many personnel, offices and sheds in quantity and training areas aplenty. It's true that simulators and such like don't grow on trees, but the prices quoted in press releases for contracts in that field tend to be quite modest. Well, except for flight simulators, but how many of those would be needed?

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    3. For one specific example I know directly, the RNZN don't write their own tactical doctrine but - as part of the "Five Eyes" (AUSCANNZUKUS) community - draw on the experience and publications of their partners. A newly independent Scotland isn't part of that grouping, there has been no effort at all by the Scots to make the steps to join it, and as a result they *will* be cut off from a great deal of military information and technology.

      Similarly, the RNZN have managed the numbers, but not the capability until recently: one reason they've reactivated their membership of the community is that they are significantly updating their ships, and that hasn't (and will not become) a cheap option; especially because they're starting from what the RNZN accept is a fairly low baseline (of warfighting capability, they're good at what they've been tasked to do in the past), and they've been very candid that they're dependent on allies to help them improve.

      There are a *lot* of tricky tactical, technical and doctrinal issues involved in getting a warship to sea in a fit state to fight; and if you're not worried about warfighting, why aren't you buying OPVs instead?

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    4. There is no plan to buy anything - there is a plan to claim a fair amount of kit, settle for the cash as an alternative, and then make a public song and dance about how "English Intransigence" has made the plan undeliverable...requiring the new state to become Neutral...and allowing the money thus extorted to be spent elsewhere...

      aka GNB

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  10. What if a Scottish-funded fighter, transport, and helicopter squadrons, along with its navy, and army were integrated in some way with the remaining U.K. forces? Some European countries have essentially joint services (for example the fighter aircraft of Belgium and the Netherlands) and the U.S. and Canada have a joint continental air defence.

    I'm a Canadian of U.K. ancestry and I hope the U.K. stays intact, so this is just for discussion and not something I'm suggesting will or should happen. :-)

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    1. Indeed, in fact why not fully integrate the two countries and call it the United Kingdom?

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  11. The difficulty is that in this policy area more than any other the aim of the SNP is to assert as loudly as possible "WE ARE NOT THE SAME AS THOSE ENGLISH B_ST_RDS!"

    So the UK is a Nuclear Power, a cornerstone of NATO, willing to shoulder it's UNSC responsibilities...and in consequence ready to engage in expeditionary warfare in pursuit of both national and international interests.

    The SNP are determined to make us move our CASD, and many amongst them hope that will make us give it up; until less than a year ago they opposed NATO and planned to be neutral, they are determined to opt out of any leading role in anything, and set against any and all expeditionary activities...

    Their objectives and ours are not just different, but mutually antagonistic...any kind of Defence co-operation will in consequence be very difficult if not completely impossible...

    aka GNB

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