Siol nan gaidheal




Political power, said Chinese revolutionary leader Mao Tse-Tung, comes from the barrel of a gun. Scottish Political Freedom may have to be maintained in the final analysis by military means.

It is fitting therefore in this stage of Scotland's freedom struggle that Scottish fighting men are beginning to cast their eyes beyond the Devolution skirmish won in September 1997, and are looking forward with steel and determination to the near future when Scotland will regain separate State institutions.

A serving Scottish army officer writing under the nom de guerre 'Jack Hawthorn' has suggested that a free Scotland should have at least an independent fighting force of 12,500 troops, 30 ships and 100 aircraft. Siol nan Gaidheal welcomes this debate on Scotland's military future and notes with amusement the alarm about such a prospect in the British/English press. We would add that we would further recommend a territorial reserve of 5-7000 men, further, we would suggest that, as in Switzerland, some form of national service, either military or civilian be reintroduced for our youth (male & female), the duration of which would be established after due deliberation and taking educational and social constraints into necessary consideration. Not only would this serve our country in a military and social capacity, it would also help deal with the alarming rise in teenage crime. Besides providing a sense of social and civic integration, discipline and respect of institutions, much money would be saved from the budgets of Police, Social Work Dept., Court officials etc.

Professor Hew Strachan of Glasgow University's Centre of War Studies, opened the first shots in this debate by choosing Jack Hawthorn's essay "Some thoughts on an Independent Scottish Defence Force", as the Centre's first published paper as he believes discussion of this issue of Scottish Armed Forces is remarkably ill developed in Scotland, despite independence being the country's major political issue at the present time.

Jack Hawthorn argues that Scotland's Military Force should be flexible enough to deal with a range of options from defending the Homeland, securing Scottish oil fields and sending Scottish troops overseas for possible UN peace-keeping duties.

The paper is controversial in suggesting that Scotland should field medium range ballistic missiles such as US Tomahawk cruise missiles which could be fitted with biological or chemical weapons. Hawthorn justifies this proposal by saying that they are good value-for-money, relatively flexible in deployment and accurate.

While the SNP Spokesperson, Colin Campbell, may have reservations about the destructive power made available by chemical and biological weapons, Siol nan Gaidheal would not rule out their role as an ultimate deterrent against a numerically superior force intent on invasion of our country. The same argument could be made for the retention of Nuclear weapons by Scotland although Hawthorn's Report suggests the Nuclear Option would be a hopeless economic burden on such a small country. The matter is certainly controversial and open to debate and we would therefore urge informed opinion to air its views freely with the intent of establishing as near a national consensus on the question as is possible.

Jack Hawthorn's paper suggests an Army made up of all six Scottish Infantry Regiments including The Royal Scots, Black Watch, K.O.S.B's, two Armoured Brigades and a Tank Regiment as well as Engineering, Signalling and Transport Regiments. The Scots Guards would be left as a quasi-mercenary Scottish Regiment in the British/English Army much along the lines as the Gurkhas, "Given the popular perception that they have somehow, become 'tainted' by their long association with England, this would seem by far to be the best solution to keeping them in existence." On the first point SnG would have no quibble save that the nomenclature of such regiments would necessarily have to reflect the end of our alignment with outdated Anglo-British pretensions. On the second substantive issue, no would-be Scottish regiment outwith Scotland's service could expect support from an independent Scotland, especially within the somewhat anachronistic framework of a residual Anglo-British statelet.

The Scottish Air Force would have 100 aircraft in total, divided into eight squadrons based in Scotland, taking its share of the RAF's Tornado and Jaguar fighters plus other specialist aircraft such as Hercules transport planes.

The Scottish naval fleet would include four frigates, four submarines and a round dozen patrol vessels to protect major maritime threats to Scotland's oil rigs and to protect Scotland's fishing fleets and waters against any and all attacks by encroachers. With Scottish skippers in charge, it is quite sure they would be more vigorous in protecting our own shores and resources.

Jack Hawthorn's report accepts that Scotland is unlikely to have or want dependent territories or garrisons overseas, a point not disputed by Siol nan Gaidheal, but we would accept that any independent nation might wish to use its forces to help in international peacekeeping, disaster relief or humanitarian missions.

Professor Strachan's own contribution to the debate, is rather spoiled by his footnote assertion that "The Scottish Army pre-1707 when Scotland had a recognisable Independent State was not a particularly good army and not successful, with the isolated example of Bannockburn". A significantly revealing misapprehension which is of course not borne out by the historical facts. Whatever its strategic shortcomings, the army of an independent Scotland did succeed in maintaining both the honour and freedom of Scotland for hundreds of years. It is significant in this respect that it was not a Scottish army which surrendered Scotland's independence in 1707, but a self-sustaining oligarchy of aristocrats and merchants who were, in the words of Robert Burns, "bought and sold for English gold". The fighting abilities of Scottish soldiers have never been questioned, they and other expendable shock troops like them created an empire for England. Their graves are dotted all over the world, a monument to their bravery and willingness to pay the ultimate price for causes which were rarely, if ever, their own. Those who doubt Scotland's current ability to defend herself should remember that given the proper infrastructure and resources, Scots would readily hold their own if they were led by Scots and fighting for Scotland. England was ever aware of this threat, and it is interesting to see that still now, all the top military jobs in the British/English Armed Forces are held by NON-SCOTS. England's philosophy was aye, Scottish soldiers to the front, Scottish radicals to the jail (or worse), Scottish sovereignty to Westminster.

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