Scottish independence: Scottish Defence Force plan

Scottish armed forces personnel should be able to serve a full career close to home as part of a Scottish Defence Force, according to the SNP’s defence spokesman.
Angus Robertson wants service men and women to have a stable family life. Picture: Phil WilkinsonAngus Robertson wants service men and women to have a stable family life. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
Angus Robertson wants service men and women to have a stable family life. Picture: Phil Wilkinson

Angus Robertson wants service men and women to have a stable family life, ongoing community ties and a career ladder to the top ranks.

He will ask his party to approve plans to give personnel recognised representation with senior ranks and ministers, similar to the Scottish Police Federation’s representation of rank-and-file officers.

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In a motion to go before the SNP conference this week, jointly signed by Scottish Government minister and former Falklands commando Keith Brown, he will propose a model similar to the Danish Defence Force, where personnel have unionised representation without the right to strike.

Mr Robertson said: “Personnel should also be able serve a full career in Scotland.

“At present too many talented people join the armed forces and literally never serve in Scotland which is a ridiculous state of affairs, undermining family life and links to home communities.

“With independence personnel will be able to work their way up through the ranks to the highest command posts in Scotland. Not only will there be exciting career opportunities, first rate training and postings providing a fulfilling career, but family life will be better supported with the prospect of stability in Scotland.

“All of these proposals will improve the employment experience of members of the Scottish Defence Forces (SDF) and their families, but it will be a boost to recruitment and retention.”

He added: “Personnel should be properly represented within the military and with defence policy decision-makers.

“This is the norm in most other countries and recognised representation is part of the significant improvements the SNP is considering for armed forces personnel and their families.

“During a recent visit to Copenhagen I met with the Central Association of Permanent Defence Personnel (CS), which is the largest representational organisation of Danish servicemen and women.

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“Working in exactly the same way as the Scottish Police Federation (SPF) as a recognised professional association which cannot strike, it successfully represents members interests with government and within the army, air force and navy.

“Jesper Hansen, who heads CS, explained how successful the cooperative working arrangements function without impinging on operational or military command in any way.

“One of the first acts of the recently appointed Defence Minister was to meet him and other association colleagues. This approach is is viewed as essential by all Danish political parties.

“The practical experience in Denmark and throughout Europe shows that this social partnership approach delivers real benefits for the armed forces, for the personnel, their families and defence communities.

“Terms and conditions in Scotland need to be reviewed and this should include a safeguard on military contracts so people are not kicked out of the forces as is presently the case.

“It is an outrage that troops have come straight back from Afghanistan to be sacked from the armed forces when they were signed up for a contracted period of longer service.”