There was good news this week when the MOD made a series of long term commitments to Scotland which included the retention of RAF Lossiemouth and the transfer of ex-RAF Kinloss and of RAF Leuchars to the army. Additionally Fort St George is to be retained.
The Army is to have a brand new mobile brigade formed from units returning from Germany. This new brigade will be based in Leuchars when the RAF's Typhoon interceptors move to Lossiemouth. Elements will also be stationed at RM Condor outside Arbroath when the Marines are transferred to England, and at Rosyth and Kirknewton, south of Edinburgh.
But, however welcome the increase in our population, bringing skilled-job salaries to the country and, as the first minister pointed out, bringing children who will be brought up in Scotland, helping to rebalance the ageing population, you do have to consider why the MOD's long term strategy is to more than double the number of regular troops in Scotland from 3,500 to 8,500 in the next five to six years, while in England they are reducing the number of regular troops and relying instead on Territorials.
Could it be that the English government’s seemingly generous act in stationing troops all over Scotland is an attempt to garrison the country? Could it be that they are creating a new brigade with no local allegiances and getting rid of long-established units that might not wish to open fire on a local population?
I find it hard to attribute to Mr Fox and the mandarins at the MOD an altruism that flies in the face of what they are doing everywhere else (i.e. cutting to the bone) without there being a hidden agenda.
Before the election in May we were gearing up for severe cuts and, then the SNP won a majority in Holyrood, an independence referendum is now a certainty, and suddenly we are getting three new army bases in the North East of the country, where the oil is (Leuchars, Kinloss, and Condor), and new mobile units at Rosyth and Kirknewton, handy for the capital. They are not expecting us to kick off if we don’t get our way in the referendum are they? Or are they planning to seize the oil in the event we win?