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From the Herald Scotland and the BBC - TORNADO Bases

Published: 19 Jul 2011

From the Herald Scotland - Reprieve for Lossiemouth is to be welcomed.

Since the Strategic Defence Review last October a dark cloud has been hanging over RAF bases in Scotland.

For decades Kinloss, Lossiemouth and Leuchars have been communities where military personnel and their families have been a vital part of the local economy, supporting jobs both on and off the bases and boosting the role in local schools. Once the cancellation of the contract for a new Nimrod fleet sealed the fate of RAF Kinloss, the community campaigned strongly to save the neighbouring base at Lossiemouth, which was in competition for survival with RAF Marham in Norfolk.

Months later it emerged that RAF Leuchars was also at risk and the dogfight was between the two remaining Scottish bases, prompting the Scottish Government to accuse Westminster of inflicting disproportionate cuts on Scotland.

Yesterday’s announcement by Defence Secretary Liam Fox reprieving Lossiemouth, which will become the base for the Typhoons currently at Leuchars, and retaining the Fife base as a future home for two major Army units, could be seen as politically adroit. It would have been spectacularly bad timing to announce the closure of the Moray base when its Tornado squadron is in action over Libya, but to close both Kinloss and Lossiemouth would concede a political own goal with the SNP in the ascendancy.

The moves are part of a wider strategy that will reduce the number of regular soldiers but increase the pool of reservists trained for frontline operations. The change will reduce the size of the regular Army from 120,000 to 84,000 by 2020 and result in a 70:30 proportion of regular to reserve personnel. This would be in line with the way the military is organised in other countries including the US, but raises questions about Britain’s future operational capacity. The problems of exhaustion and morale resulting from increasing frequency of tours of duty when troops were committed in both Iraq and Afghanistan must not be forgotten. Nor can the ability of reservists to commit to more frequent call-up be taken for granted.

Dr Fox’s reorganisation will allow an increase in the equipment budget. That is necessary for a 21st-century defence strategy capable of a fast, appropriate response to humanitarian disasters as well as conflicts in terrain raging from frozen mountains to deserts.

The size of the defence footprint in Scotland will be increased but its changing shape will require readjustment. There will be concern, for example, about the loss of specialist civilian jobs associated with the RAF. Scotland’s long history of contributing to the armed forces makes it appropriate to maintain a high share of the bases. We share Alex Salmond’s welcome for the increase in numbers. Questions remain, however, as to how the communities around the bases would fare in an independent Scotland.

From the BBC website - Threatened RAF Marham Tornado base to stay open.

The Tornado base at RAF Marham in Norfolk threatened with closure under the government's defence review will stay open, it has been announced.

The government had been looking at either closing the Tornado bases of RAF Lossiemouth in Moray or RAF Marham in Norfolk.

Tornado operations were to be relocated to the base remaining open.

But the government has decided to keep both operational.

But RAF Leuchars will close and become an army base, with its Typhoons leaving for Lossiemouth in 2013 and the army starting to move in later.

Concern over RAF Marham's future prompted a major campaign to save the base by councils, MPs and business leaders in Norfolk.

South West Norfolk MP Elizabeth Truss, a campaigner to save RAF Marham, said: "I am absolutely delighted.

"The campaign was not just based on a simple fondness for the RAF, it was founded on sound economic and strategic principles and I believe that resulted in the decisive decision to make it Marham."

In the House of Commons, Defence Secretary Liam Fox praised the work of Ms Truss in the fight to save RAF Marham.

Broadland MP Keith Simpson said: "This is excellent news for the RAF and defence of the country and a relief for people of Marham and Norfolk."


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