To be published as HC 140-ix

House of COMMONS



Scottish Affairs Committee


Tuesday 29 October 2013

Dr Patrick Mileham

Evidence heard in Public Questions 3732 - 3794



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Oral Evidence

Taken before the Scottish Affairs Committee

on Tuesday 29 October 2013

Members present:

Mr Ian Davidson (Chair)

Mike Crockart

Jim McGovern

Graeme Morrice

Pamela Nash

Sir James Paice

Mr Alan Reid

Lindsay Roy


Examination of Witness

Witness: Dr Patrick Mileham, former British Army officer, Royal Tank Regiment, and writer on military history, gave evidence.

Q3732 Chair: Welcome, Dr Mileham, to this meeting of the Scottish Affairs Committee. As you know, we are investigating various aspects of separation, its impact on Scotland and the sorts of issues that need to be taken into account by those who have to make the decision. We have held a number of sessions on defence, in which we have addressed issues to do with Trident, shipbuilding, equipment supply and so on. We wanted particularly to look at the question of the regiments. We have had circulated to us an extract from the book "Bloodline" and wanted to have you in to give evidence. Indeed, you were recommended by the author of the book, so you come with enormous kudos. We are expecting you to be the world expert on these matters.

Dr Mileham: I hope so.

Chair: After that build-up, could you introduce yourself and give us your background?

Dr Mileham: I was commissioned into the British Army in 1966 and spent 28 years in the Royal Tank Regiment, which is a very neutral regiment compared with what we will talk about today. I left in ’92 and became a university lecturer at the university of Paisley, so for 14 years I learned at the coal face how Scotland works and what Scots people think; obviously I also lived in Scotland. I am of slightly mixed parentage, with a Scots granny and an Irish grandfather called Redmond, which may have reverberations. The rest of me is English. Twenty-five years ago I seized the opportunity to write a book on Scottish regiments, which is still in print-just. In some respects, I stopped about 20 years ago. The Scottish regiments get rather confused after that period.

Q3733 Chair: Can you clarify some of the confusion for us? The SNP have said that it is their intention in the event of separation for the regular Scottish Army "to include current Scottish raised and restored UK regiments". What would you understand the phrase "current Scottish raised and restored UK regiments" to mean?

Dr Mileham: I would say that it means going back to the formation of regular units from Scotland, which goes back to the Restoration in 1660. Those regiments, which were obviously royal regiments, have continued in being right up until the present day. New regiments were raised at various times, particularly in the 1730s, starting with the Black Watch in the highlands. Various highland regiments were formed after that date. William Pitt was greatly enthused by the quality of the new highland regiments that came into being in the latter part of the 18th century, particularly at the time of the revolutionary and Napoleonic wars, when they were very much needed.

Those were the original raised regiments-the Scottish highland and lowland regiments. There was already a cavalry regiment called the Royal Scots Greys, which went back to the troubles in Scotland in covenanting times. It has remained in being and has been amalgamated just the once, in recent years. There were also various territorial regiments-not to be confused with the militia-which were part time. They were volunteer regiments and were raised at various times according to the perceived threats from Napoleonic France, and in 1859, when a lot of volunteer regiments were formed throughout the United Kingdom. They were really the staple of what became the Territorial Army or Territorial Force volunteers; they are now being called reserves.

There were a number of regiments of militia. This is all rather confusing, but they were for home defence on a county basis and were raised within counties over the last three and half centuries or so. They became mainstream in the reforms 100 years ago, at the time of Haldane, when all three types of regiments came together as part of the British Army, whether they were regular or Territorial Force.

By 1914 the structure had already been worked out in a very sensible fashion, ready for anything to happen-which, of course, it did. At that time, something like 700,000 troops were able to be mobilised instantly, which compared rather unfavourably with 8 million in Germany, 3.5 million in France, 3 million in Austria and so on. We always relied on our volunteer armies, some of which were largely for home defence and some of which were for overseas service. When we were threatened in 1914 and it became a war of national survival, perhaps for the first time we had a national Army that really impinged on every locality in these islands, including, of course, Ireland as well as Scotland, Wales and England. That was the basis of the regular and part-time reserve armies in 1914.

Many of the regiments had fine, distinguished overseas service, which was written up in regimental histories and became part of the folklore and legend of Scottish soldiers in other parts of the United Kingdom. That was really the basis of the regimental system of 100 years ago. Its purpose was for us to be ready to fight if our shores were invaded and to fight overseas if necessary in defence of colonies and in support of colonial troops. Another purpose of any institution is regeneration, which by then was being done on a localised basis throughout the United Kingdom. The stronger links with localities were in places such as Scotland, because you had recruiting drives in regimental areas that were based on the old clan families. That is really how the regiments came about.

Q3734 Chair: Given the complexity of the background, if you were asked to define what the list of "current Scottish raised and restored UK regiments" would be, what would that list comprise?

Dr Mileham: I have listed in the paper a number of what were called lowland regiments-the Royal Scots, the King’s Own Scottish Borderers, the Royal Scots Fusiliers and the Highland Light Infantry, which became part of the Royal Scots Fusiliers. You also had the highland regiments, which were all infantry regiments-the Black Watch, the Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders, the Gordon Highlanders, the Seaforth Highlanders and the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders. Those were the regular regiments.

Q3735 Chair: Would your interpretation of the phrase "current Scottish raised and restored UK regiments" involve that list?

Dr Mileham: It could well do. I am little bit nonplussed by the word "restored". Does that mean as they see it after any referendum?

Q3736 Chair: We are a bit nonplussed as well, you see. We invited you here because we assumed that you would know more about this than we did. We do not have an SNP representative on the Committee today and have not had any further clarification from the SNP about their proposal, but we want to try to put in front of the Scottish public an understanding of what this phrase "current Scottish raised and restored UK regiments" might mean. In a moment, we will go on to talk about numbers, but the issue is the list of names. We were not clear about whether, for example, simply taking the individual battalions of the Royal Regiment of Scotland and calling them regiments would satisfy that criterion. Do you think that it goes beyond that?

Dr Mileham: I am trying to double-guess what their thoughts are. You still have the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards and the Scots Guards, but in recent times the other infantry regiments were amalgamated or condensed-whatever word one would like to use-into the Royal Regiment of Scotland, consisting of seven battalions, which was reduced to six battalions. One of them, the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, has now been downsized to a single company-Balaklava Company. The Territorial Army is somewhat different, because there have been a lot of name changes. Going back 40 years or so, you had the 51st Highland Volunteers, which had about eight companies from Orkney to London, via Liverpool, and obviously in the highlands. You also had the 52nd Lowland Volunteers, which may have included the Tyneside Scottish at one stage.

Q3737 Lindsay Roy: If it were up to you, Dr Mileham, how far back would you realistically go?

Dr Mileham: If they mean positively to restore the old names?

Lindsay Roy: Yes.

Dr Mileham: They could go back to 1958. More realistically, they could go back to 1968, I think it was, when you had three lowland regiments and four highland regiments. By then the Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders had merged with the Seaforth Highlanders to form the Queen’s Own Highlanders. Gordon stood alone, and the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders remained as one regiment.

Q3738 Chair: To take this on, what are the intrinsic characteristics of any regiment that you would describe as Scottish? How do you identify something as being Scottish? Have these characteristics changed over time?

Dr Mileham: The localisation of all regiments goes back to 1881. Certain anomalies cropped up. For instance, the Argylls and the Sutherland Highlanders joined together, although the places they supposedly came from are not close. Having said that, there were various pragmatic views on what a locality should be and how many troops it could sustain. The Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders, being in the far north-west, had great difficulty in keeping two battalions, for instance. The Argylls were based partly in Argyllshire and, originally, in Sutherland, but they lost the Sutherland connection and recruited heavily from Glasgow, as did the Highland Light Infantry, which had been drawn from many parts of Scotland.

Q3739 Chair: So what makes them Scottish-is it the recruiting grounds from which they draw?

Dr Mileham: Yes, over the last 150 years. It is about where they feel their family roots are in local communities.

Q3740 Jim McGovern: Thank you very much for coming along. I am an honorary member of the Black Watch Association. My grandfather served in the Black Watch and many people in Tayside, Fife and Perthshire have a family link to it. I have been to see various parades where they are given the freedom of the city and what have you, but it is obvious that many of them are not Scots-born. In particular, when I read about people gaining military honours, quite a lot of them seem to come from Fiji. Given what you have said about there being a recruitment ground, does that still apply?

Dr Mileham: Yes, it does in so far as the Royal Regiment of Scotland is now one complete regiment, with a number of battalions with what I have described as the trace elements of the old regiments. One can say that one deplores the fact that what was the single regiment of the Black Watch became the 3rd Battalion (Black Watch). That was decided and agreed in 2006. One could say that that could be turned around relatively quickly, but would the new Scots Army, if that is what it is going to be, think that a good thing and would the soldiers who are currently serving happily transfer or decide to transfer to other regiments of the Army with English recruiting grounds or whatever?

What is Scottish about them is obviously the recruiting area; I think they are still pretty strong recruiting areas. It is a sense of identity-a sense of story. If one reads all the regimental histories, there is a great story behind each regiment, particularly the Scottish regiments, because they are colourful, fought in many parts of the world and brought back honours.

If you go back to 1914, when all the Scottish infantry regiments expanded enormously-from four to 17 battalions in the case of the Seaforth Highlanders-there was very much a local identity, and probably stronger links than ever with the population of the area in which they recruited. In some respects, you could say that the apogee of the regimental system and the regiments of the infantry was in 1914, when they could expand very rapidly and at the end of the war reduce down to a small number of battalions without losing the sense of regiment and identity, which I think is terribly important.

On the issue of Scottish and British identity, all these regiments started off being very proprietorial. In some respects-this is going back 200 or more years-they were in the ownership of those who were commissioned to run them, from the colonel down through the officers, who had to buy their way into the various regiments. It is interesting to note that the Duke of Wellington had his first commission in a highland regiment, although he is not known ever to have worn a kilt. That was the way things were.

Over the years, everybody who is a member of the regiment, down through the senior NCOs and the junior NCOs, has a sense of ownership. Almost whatever it is called-I am talking about current serving people-they own whatever battalion they have been to Iraq and Afghanistan with in the last few years. I think a lot of the sense of history has gone from society. One may be quite shocked about this, but whereas 45 years ago you could turn out a million people in Glasgow to support the "Save the Argylls" campaign, I do not think that today the same number of people in Glasgow and that part of Scotland would necessarily know what the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders are. Whether or not the population feels that it owns its local regiment is perhaps a matter of judgment; I do not have any statistics or figures.

Q3741 Chair: To what extent does being based in Scotland make a regiment Scottish? I notice that the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards have not been based in Scotland for 40 years. To what extent are they still Scottish?

Dr Mileham: One would literally have to look at the demography of the regiment and see which part of the United Kingdom they come from and which part they feel is their home. At the current time British society is faced with the extension of human rights and inclusiveness. What is very striking about all the regiments of the British Army is that until 50 years ago, certainly, some of them were very exclusive regiments, whether it was for soldiers or for officers. That is the way things were. A lot of nations do not understand it but we have come to understand it. Many people accept that there has been huge social change and that nowadays Fijians can join. They are not just in the 3rd Battalion but throughout a number of other British regiments. They are very good rugby players and bring a certain extra dimension.

Q3742 Chair: Indeed. I remember seeing the Royal Regiment of Scotland sevens team play in Selkirk. I think it was composed entirely of Fijians, apart from one substitute, who was there as a token non-Fijian. They went on to win the tournament. I think that eventually they stopped invited them because they were winning all the time, so I understand the point.

The clarification that we were seeking relates to the point that Jim made earlier about personnel. If location does not determine whether or not a regiment is Scottish, and if numbers do not necessarily determine whether or not it is Scottish, we will be in some difficulty when we try to identify what we can say to people about the phrase "current Scottish raised and restored UK regiments" that the Scottish Government have used. When Keith Brown, who is the relevant Minister in the Scottish Government, was in front of the Defence Committee here, he referred to "our commitment to reinstate Scottish regiments previously abolished". Presumably that could go back to the 1660s, which you mentioned. When I was looking at the book "Bloodline", I presumed that he did not mean that to be interpreted literally, because otherwise you would have huge numbers of new units. We were just seeking to clarify what you thought might be the position. I will pass you to Lindsay to pick up some other questions.

Q3743 Lindsay Roy: Why 1968 and not 2006?

Dr Mileham: I would double-guess that they would be looking for votes in their constituencies for the restoration in full of a complete regiment.

Q3744 Chair: Goodness me, this is a novel concept. This had not previously occurred to us. Tell us more.

Dr Mileham: If you went back to 1968, you would be talking about eight regiments, including the Cameronians (Scottish Rifles). Like one other English regiment, they refused to be amalgamated when they were told they might have to and said, "We will go out in full glory-and that’s the end." One could go back to eight regiments in 1968. If one went back to only 2006, it would be six or seven regular regiments, but they would be the former regiments that since 2006 have been called Battalions 1, 2, 3 and so on of the Royal Regiment of Scotland, with Battalion 1 being the Scots Borderers and so on.

Q3745 Lindsay Roy: Roughly how many personnel would that involve?

Dr Mileham: I believe the current figure is about 600 per battalion. You are actually thinking of between two and three brigades. That is rather in excess of what they have decided they need, which is a regular and reserve brigade type of formation.

Q3746 Lindsay Roy: Do you have a figure for a regular and reserve brigade?

Dr Mileham: You have to add in other elements such as engineers, gunners, service support and so on. A brigade probably runs at about 5,000. They are much smaller than they used to be, but it is a fair number of troops.

Q3747 Lindsay Roy: We have heard the figure of 15,000. Does that seem reasonable, with the back-up?

Dr Mileham: Reading the papers, that was a maximum. I think it includes the Air Force and the Navy. If you went for 2,000 or 3,000-whatever it was-in each of those, you would be down to 8,000 or 9,000 soldiers. You would then have to divide those up into what used to be called teeth arms but are now combat arms, which are the fighting elements of infantry and armour. Some aviation is armed aviation, of course, so it too could be part of that. You then have combat support arms-engineers and artillery. The other elements are equipment support, transport, medical services and other personal services. You would have to get that figure right within, shall we say, 8,000, if that is what they reckon their Army would be.

Q3748 Chair: That is why we were trying at the very beginning to clarify the question of "Scottish raised and restored UK regiments", because, with a few exceptions, they are almost all infantry. We were trying to clarify what that might mean-how many infantry you would have. We were going to come to the question of how many support units you would need to bolster that and then identify whether or not that was within the constraint of some 15,000 personnel overall and £2.5 billion. In terms of Lindsay’s points, you are really saying to us that all these things would have to be added on top.

Dr Mileham: They seem to have put a ceiling of 15,000 on uniformed personnel. Going the other way, you would probably end up with three regular and three reserve battalions.

Q3749 Chair: Of infantry?

Dr Mileham: Of infantry. The issue is whether or not you would have armour. Armour is changing. It used to be tanks and armoured cars-it is now hybrid vehicles. In fact, a lot of what one might say were infantrymen on their feet are now transportable. There has been a huge hybridisation, as well as a centralisation, of arms corps and regiments.

Q3750 Lindsay Roy: Would you include in raised and restored regiments the King’s Own Scottish Borderers, which merged with the Royal Scots in 2006?

Dr Mileham: If they wanted to go back to that and to separate the Royal Scots and the King’s Own Scottish Borderers, they would have to have seven infantry regiments. They would end up with that sort of number of regiments. Whether that is sustainable or they say, "Actually, the sums don’t add up," or we go for independent companies such as the current Balaklava Company, in some respects that is more easily done in a large regiment because of all the interconnecting postings that you can achieve in a large regiment. The old exclusiveness was about saying, "You are enlisted or commissioned into a particular regiment-that’s it." Nowadays cross-postings throughout the British Army are at very high levels compared with even 20 years ago. You would probably find that maybe 20% or 30% end up in more than one during their service.

If you are trying to re-raise regiments as stand-alone, single-battalion regiments, you have to think about how much cross-posting there is. If there is massive cross-posting, why bother to re-raise the old regiments? You would need to look at the demography. I do not have figures; one would have to get them out of the Ministry of Defence, which is quite shy about providing figures. When I last knew and published figures that had been given to me legitimately, typically officers were commissioned at the age of 23 and nine months. By their 33rd birthday-that is, nine years later-50% had gone. When I was last told, the average length of service of soldiers was nine years-the same-but for the infantry it was seven years.

One gets a feel that a soldier joins and, typically, does all his training, bringing him up to a very high standard. He is in a small unit, which works very well. He goes to-now-Afghanistan once or twice. He may think, "I might go again if enough of my friends are going," or "It is time for me to leave." There is a large number of people who go in for only a short episode in their lives. You cannot really say that the Army is a career as it was, say, 50 years ago, when typically people stayed for 22 years or until the age of 55. This is a very good thing in so far as we have a very young Army and do not have lots of old, passed-over people who are clogging the system and not doing very much. It is very much in and out.

In some respects, people like and prefer that, because if you go and take part in intense operations-Afghanistan, Iraq before it and some of the Balkan companies-you have had enough of fighting other people and doing unpleasant things that your Government have said are the right thing to do internationally; it is time to move on. This is an episode in your life to which you look back. It may be part of a regimental scene whereby you keep in touch with people through a regimental membership and headquarters, but it is a very different sort of Army from what you had 50 or 100 years ago.

Q3751 Jim McGovern: Our inquiry relates to the possible consequences of separation of Scotland from the UK. As I said earlier, I am in regular contact with veterans who have served in the Black Watch. I am also in contact with the Combined Ex-Services Association in Dundee. Obviously, they can speak quite freely and pass on opinions, whereas current serving personnel may be more reluctant to do so. The overwhelming opinion I get is that battalions or regiments-certainly battalions such as the Black Watch-will no longer exist in a post-referendum independent Scotland. Do you have a view on that?

Dr Mileham: They will exist for a generation or two, in so far as there is a regiment-

Q3752 Jim McGovern: As part of the UK armed forces?

Dr Mileham: No. You will have to wait-as we all have to wait-until any referendum takes place, because I am told that there are no contingency plans whatsoever and no discussion about what might happen to currently serving British Army regiments in Scotland or wherever. They have a territorial link, which in some respects is still very strong, and regimental headquarters and museums. There are local parades, events and so on, and the old camaraderie is very much still there and will continue as long as people want it to. If under a new constitutional arrangement the regiment is actually disbanded from the British Army, it does not mean that there will be no contacts back with regimental headquarters. In fact, those people who transfer to other units because they still have a few years to serve may well still feel an identity back with their previous regiment.

Q3753 Jim McGovern: I imagine that you, like me, must be in touch with ex-services associations and so on. Is your take similar to mine?

Dr Mileham: In fact, a couple of months ago I was talking at Comrie Fortnight in Perthshire to a fairly strong Black Watch and Scottish Horse constituency. There are these feelings and they will go on for several generations, even if the Black Watch, the Cameronians and the Royal Scots-whoever-are completely removed from any order of battle or list of regiments.

If the new constitutional settlement happened, I think the Scots nationalists would probably want to re-raise in a new Scots Army a regiment that had been existence in the British Army and had been reduced to a battalion-(Royal Scots Borderers) or whatever it is. There would suddenly be a resurgence of the old name, but it would be a very different sort of regiment. For a few years it might have a few people who had been in the previous regiment, if they decided they wanted to leave the British Army. That would not be the same as constant regeneration, which is what the regiments have been for the last 200 or 300 years. There would be a hiatus and they would have to start all over again.

Scotland would have to decide what its defence stance should be. I have read a lot of the papers. It says it wants to be part of NATO, to take part in UN operations and so on. How far would it rely on combat operations, rather than humanitarian operations and providing elements for coalitions, such as a field hospital to be sent off as part of a NATO contingent or whatever? Scotland would have to decide whether it wanted to fight on operations, as its troops are doing now as part of the British Army, in intense combat in local wars for-dare one say it?-the good of humanity.

Chair: It is reasonable for us to expect that all these questions will be answered by the Scottish Government’s paper on 26 November. All will be clear then, we hope.

Q3754 Mike Crockart: I have a few questions specifically about numbers. At the moment, the average battalion in the Royal Regiment of Scotland is around 500 to 550. Historically, has that always been the size of a battalion?

Dr Mileham: No; that low strength reflects the use of technology. If you go back to the battalions raised in 1914, they were nearly 1,000 strong, but they would have had bayonets, rifles and some machine guns. Nowadays, of course, you have the whole gamut of the modern mechanised battle group; they tend to talk about battle groups rather than battalions. Those numbers reflect how they are used in modern warfare. Does that answer your question?

Q3755 Mike Crockart: As it stands, with the technology that is available at the moment, is 500 a good size for a battalion, because it gives it independence and the ability to operate as a fighting unit?

Dr Mileham: The basis is really how do you command, control and manage units? If I can quote Edmund Burke, "To be attached to the subdivision, to love the little platoon we belong to in society…is the first link in the series by which we proceed towards a love to our country, and to mankind." So, small is beautiful. Small is where people fight together, from two or three people in a fire team, to a section, to a platoon.

The British Army still has an officer for every platoon. That is the establishment, although sometimes they are commanded by warrant officers. It is an important criterion that differentiates the British Army from a lot of other armies. A platoon is commanded by an officer, who is, if you like, the commander-in-chief’s direct representative down at platoon level. Platoons are formed into companies, which are roughly 100 or 110 strong. That is a much bigger unit and there are perhaps three platoons as a smaller unit, so you are getting greater cohesion, a higher level of command, the use of a larger force and so on. At battle group or battalion level, you have three or four companies to make up an independent unit, although that is not really the case nowadays. Modern operations are conducted in hybrid sorts of formations for specific tasks, and mixing and matching of various different sorts of forces-integrated with artillery, aerial support, aerial transport and every other kind of modern way of configuring troops-but it does all go back to the small stuff.

Q3756 Mike Crockart: I will come back to that in a minute, because that will be important. If we can work from the top down, there would be a Scottish defence force of 15,000. You said that an Army would need to be around 8,000 or 9,000 strong; we will be generous and say 9,000. What proportion of that 9,000 would need to be in a combat-facing role?

Dr Mileham: Nowadays the numbers in combat support and combat service support are very much higher than they used to be-if you go back 100 years, the vast majority of troops in the British Army were infantry. Probably about 60%, maybe 70%, are in service support and combat support. The actual fighting elements-those troops that can engage in close-quarter combat-are relatively proportionately smaller.

Q3757 Mike Crockart: So it is roughly two thirds to a third.

Dr Mileham: Yes, possibly.

Q3758 Mike Crockart: If we have an Army of 9,000, we are talking about 3,000 combat troops for close fighting-the infantry, of which the Scottish battalions are predominantly made up. If we work back to figure out how those would be divided among the present battalions and reconstituted ones and we went back to 1968, we would be talking about the Royal Scots, the King’s Own Scottish Borderers, the Royal Scots Fusiliers, the Highland Light Infantry, the Black Watch, the Queen’s Own Highlanders, the Gordon Highlanders and the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders; we have eight there. Effectively, you would have to take the 3,000 you had left and divide them among those eight. That leaves battalions quite significantly smaller than we have at present. Would that have a knock-on effect on what they are able to do?

Dr Mileham: For health and safety purposes, you could not just say, "We want any number of named regiments," and squeeze-

Q3759 Mike Crockart: I am not saying this is the way we should do it when we start, but this seems to be the way in which the Scottish defence force has been built up. I am trying to understand it.

Dr Mileham: There is so much algebra involved nowadays, not just arithmetic. Would you have two artillery regiments or one, or two engineer regiments or one, depending on the sorts of engagements you were expecting to do the fighting? You would then have to work out what transport troops you needed, where the likely operations were going to take place and how they would fit in with other nations in a coalition. You could say, "We will have a larger element of medical troops, but somebody else has got to do all our carrying on trucks for us," or "We can’t provide our own artillery support-somebody else will have to do it." There are nations-particularly the Nordic ones-that do specialise. This is probably unfair to them but they do not actually get involved in fighting and that is the way they like it. Our Army apparently does.

Q3760 Mike Crockart: So you really need to understand what the stance of a Scottish defence force is first before you can allocate cap badges. Effectively, that is what we are left with here. If you boldly assert that you need these eight cap badges, they could just as easily be signals regiments, artillery or anything else. You could end up with the Gordon highland signallers. That would be a way round it.

Dr Mileham: Yes. Funnily enough, these sorts of arrangements have been made in the Territorial Army. There were a couple of transport regiments-the Lanarkshire and Glasgow Yeomanry-that had heavy duties with, I think, tank transporters. In the ’90s there was a great resurgence, which is quite interesting, and they formed a regiment of Scottish Yeomanry, with the Ayrshire Yeomanry and the Fife and Forfar Yeomanry. Suddenly, a couple of transport regiments were told to smarten up as they were going to be cavalry, and this they did. That lasted for only a short time. Maybe the Territorial Army is much more volatile and is treated in a much more volatile fashion by the Ministry of Defence. In some respects, of course, part-time soldiers do not have the same sort of identity that they would have if they were regulars. That is probably being unfair to them, but they do not commit in the same way as a regular does.

Q3761 Mike Crockart: But the bottom line is that, to get the eight historic Scottish regiments to be in a Scottish defence force, they will have to be, potentially, a company within another regiment, do a different role or be reservists, because otherwise the maths does not fit.

Dr Mileham: I think you will have to wait and see how they actually configure their forces after any referendum and then do the maths. There would be an enormous number of anomalies. Would the Royal Scots Borderers split up? Most of the soldiers-and a lot of the officers-have known only that battalion. Would they end up with schizophrenia-being pulled in two different ways-if it were decided politically that you wanted to restore names for whatever purpose, which might have nothing to do with real soldiering but a lot to do with politicising?

Q3762 Chair: Earlier you spoke about whether the Scottish forces would want to take on specialist roles and compared them to the Nordics and so on. Would that not depend on the Scottish forces or Scotland being part of NATO or some similar alliance so that you had that long-term agreement about specialised roles? If Scotland were not in NATO, that sort of arrangement would be much more difficult, if not impossible.

Dr Mileham: Yes, that is true-as far as I know.

Q3763 Sir James Paice: I would like first to go back to the issue we talked about earlier, which was the identity of individual regiments, particularly the Scots Guards. One of our earlier witnesses, Stuart Crawford, said that he would not include the Scots Guards because, basically, they are part of the Brigade of Guards-they are Guards first and Scots second. Do you agree with that?

Dr Mileham: I think that is a bit of a cop-out by Stuart Crawford-too difficult. "Quis separabit?" is particularly strong in the Guards, which is why they still have the Irish Guards. A lot of them actually recruit in England, particularly in the northern counties, as in Carlisle, but they have their own identity, which is very strong compared with that of some other regiments. They like to think of themselves as elite and, in some respects, exclusive-but in a nice sort of way, because they will include everybody who wants very much to join them and so on. In many respects, those five regiments are single regiments and are kept as single regiments, but really they are one complete whole as household troops. They are a total anomaly, just as a lot of things in Britain are anomalous and very difficult to understand from the outside, but it works. I think Stuart has probably distanced himself from that particular hot potato.

Q3764 Sir James Paice: But, unless I have misunderstood you, you seem to be agreeing with him that they are Guards first. They are part of that brigade.

Dr Mileham: They will tell you, yes, they are.

Sir James Paice: That is the point that I think was made.

Q3765 Chair: So they are Guards rather than a Scottish regiment. Coldstream, obviously, is in Scotland, but so far nobody has suggested that the Coldstream Guards should be claimed as Scottish. What makes the Coldstream Guards not Scottish but the Scots Guards Scottish?

Dr Mileham: The Coldstream Guards took their name from the village where they just happened to be billeted in 1660. They were originally Monck’s Regiment. Monck was the man who tipped the military balance and came over to the Restoration.

Q3766 Jim McGovern: He sacked Dundee, didn’t he?

Dr Mileham: Yes, that is right.

Mike Crockart: We won’t forget it either.

Dr Mileham: I think that explains that particular matter. On the Scots Guards, it will be interesting to see whether in the White Paper they are producing next month they actually name regiments. I suspect they will not. If they name them, I wouldn’t be surprised if they left out the Scots Guards because it is just too difficult.

Q3767 Chair: From discussions we have had before, I think we would take the view that they ought to name them, on the basis that people going into the election have to know what they are being asked to vote for or against. The idea that, "We want to have separation, but we will tell you later on whether or not the Scots Guards are being claimed by a separate Scotland," is not really adequate. That is why we are pressing the point. Unless I am very much mistaken, you seem to be saying that it would not be reasonable for the Scottish Government to claim the Scots Guards as a Scottish regiment. Is that correct?

Dr Mileham: I would guess that is correct. The reason is to do with the fact that the monarch will remain head of state of Scotland, as far as I understand it. They would not want to disturb those sorts of constitutional arrangements that include household troops, which is what you have for a head of state. If you are a republic or whatever, you have presidential troops.

Q3768 Sir James Paice: I want to take this on a stage and pick up virtually the last paragraph of your evidence, which is about the issue of what individuals want. If Scotland becomes independent, who knows how things will have evolved 10 or 15 years out, but I am sure you are right to surmise that in the initial stages the Scottish Government would have to allow individual soldiers to choose whether they wanted to transfer to the Scottish defence force or to stay within the British Army. You could be faced with some of these regiments or battalions-maybe the Scots Guards, for example-or the vast majority saying, "No, we want to stay with the British Army, which is something we know and love"-in other words, they choose which country. That is particularly true, picking up an earlier point, of the large number of non-British nationals that are serving in them.

In that case, how would a separate Scotland be able to transfer regiments where the majority of soldiers chose not to transfer with them, assuming that the British Government agreed to the name of the regiment? What do you see as the recruitment issues in Scotland to enable some of these so-called Scottish regiments to continue, if they had a very large drop-out or transfer into the British Army? Would they be able to continue these regiments from recruitment within Scotland?

Dr Mileham: I do not think there would be a neat transfer of regiments. I do not think the 3rd Battalion of the Royal Regiment of Scotland would immediately detach itself and form a new Black Watch. I suspect that a large number just would not want it and would rather go into the Mercian Regiment or the Lancastrian Regiment and serve out their time-maybe in groups. The MOD would not actually speak with me, which is understandable. I would have liked to ask it questions about any contingency planning, but I am told that it has none, which I accept. It does not want to address-

Q3769 Sir James Paice: If what you have just said is right-I would probably surmise the same-would it be fair to say that a separate Scotland would not create the Scottish defence force just by wholesale transfer of existing regiments but would actually have to recruit a new Army? I must not over-exaggerate, but would it largely have to recruit its own new Army, provide new training and all that goes with that?

Dr Mileham: I think that is what Mr Hammond said to this Committee. That is what one infers from how he answered the question. The British Army could keep the Royal Regiment of Scotland on its books and do recruiting, as much as it could, from Scotland. It would probably get quite a lot of young bloods who did not want to be transport troops but wanted a more exciting time, who would stay in that regiment. It might remain in several battalions.

Quite frankly, we do not really know what will happen after 2020 in British defence. Obviously, we will be part of NATO and so on, as long as NATO goes on, but we have spent all of my life reducing the British Army. In some respects, that is why it is such a good Army, because, if you reduce, you keep your standards up. Without going too far into the future, one could almost say that the critical mass has been lost. Recruiting is not terribly good at the moment, particularly with the uncertainty and the decisions that have been made by the Ministry of Defence, spurred on by the Government cuts in spending.

We have so much to offer from our military experience throughout the world. Two weeks ago I made my first visit to West Point in the States, where I was telling them about how we do things differently. I was representing one of the two best-known military academies. There was quite a lot of talk about the officer contingent. What do you need officers for? You need them to fill the regimental posts, as I have described, down to platoon level. In the bigger picture, you need them for command headquarters of multinational commands. If Scotland had to start all over again, it would be very difficult for it to build up quickly an officer corps that would be as good as the others, unless a large number came across, which is probably unlikely.

Sir James Paice: I think I’ll quit on that point, which sounds a good one.

Q3770 Mike Crockart: That is the point I really wanted to ask about. Although you say that you have not talked to the Ministry of Defence-

Dr Mileham: It refused.

Mike Crockart: Even so, you have been taking a line very similar to that of Philip Hammond-that there would be a reluctance to transfer across. We have already had your comment on one thing that Stuart Crawford has said, so let us get another one. He reacted to that thought quite vehemently, saying that, while there might be an element of "better the devil you know" about it that would keep them in the UK Army, what if conditions of service in the Scottish defence force were markedly better, with better housing, better career prospects, better family life and better pay? How likely do you think those things are in a Scottish defence force?

Dr Mileham: I have described the high turnover that exists, particularly in the infantry. You could say, for want of answers, that most of those young people are not interested in better housing, better careers and so on because they know they will be in for only a short period of time. I do not think lots of lures of better terms and conditions of service would attract the sorts of people who are currently attracted to the British Army, including the fighting Fijians, and that all of them would necessarily want to transfer. Stuart obviously has a political axe to grind in so far as he would want to see lots of people transfer. He was-dare I say it-in an English regiment, the Royal Tank Regiment, although 4th Royal Tank Regiment was recruited in Scotland and had a pipe band and so on. When I joined, there were five Royal Tank Regiments; there is now one. I think Stuart is being optimistic.

Q3771 Chair: Before we move off this question, I would like to go back to the issue of the Guards. If the Scots Guards are more Guards than Scots, does the same thing apply to the artillery? You have the Scottish Gunners. Are they gunners rather than Scots? The record does not record nodding, I am afraid.

Dr Mileham: Yes. The Scottish Gunners is a fairly new nickname, if you like. A regiment-I forget which it is-was nominated to recruit from Scotland, told to get on with it and informed, "You are now the Scottish Gunners." Unlike the Royal Horse Artillery or 102 Regiment, I do not think it is in their proper official title. It is a sobriquet or nickname-a recruiting device. It does have some reverberations and brings in recruits. Some Scots like to serve with other Scots in other units.

Chair: But, as you said earlier, the Scottish element is a trace element, rather than a real issue of substance. Again, that has implications for whether or not people might want to transfer over as individuals.

Q3772 Mr Reid: Earlier you talked about support units. You listed engineers, artillery, transport, medical and armour. Are there any other categories of support unit that you could add to that list?

Dr Mileham: Only small ones, mainly to do with personnel support, law, medical, dental and educational support, small arms training and so on.

Q3773 Mr Reid: When Mike was questioning you, we did some calculations and worked out that the Scottish defence force would need about 6,000 people in these various support units. Do you think it would be feasible for the Scottish defence force to train new personnel or would it be dependent on attracting recruits from existing British Army units?

Dr Mileham: It would not surprise me. Thinking of what Stuart Crawford said, there could be inducements that would bring over a substantial number of specialists to help form new units in the Scottish Army.

Q3774 Mr Reid: Do these sorts of specialists have contracts with the British Army for a certain length of service that they would find it difficult to break, or would it be relatively straightforward for them to resign and transfer?

Dr Mileham: I forget the exact terms and conditions, but after a certain period from initial training they can give notice to leave. If they are warm to operations, there is a ban on that for six months so that people can’t vote with their feet, but terminating a career in one Army is relatively easy.

Q3775 Mr Reid: From your experience, do you think that enough numbers would be willing to transfer to enable them to find these 6,000 personnel?

Dr Mileham: I think a proportion would, but one has to question the quality. I do not want to be detrimental to what Scotland might want in the future at all, but, if there are good terms and conditions of service, would people go for a comfortable option rather than continue to want to do another tour in Afghanistan with a different unit or whatever?

Q3776 Mr Reid: When you say a comfortable option, is that because they would not be serving in wars abroad?

Dr Mileham: Because they might want to sit back, as a number of other European nations do, and not volunteer for active service. However, they are there for a war of national survival if the Russians or Chinese come over or whatever.

Q3777 Mr Reid: Do you think that in the Scottish defence force these specialist units would be more likely to be reservists, rather than full time?

Dr Mileham: Yes, they could be. It has all been rather clouded, in so far as the reserve element is being increased quite dramatically-or the reliance on reservists is going to be increased quite dramatically. By definition, reservists are the people who have a home where they have a home, so those reservists who come from Scotland, even specialists, would be Scottish-based. You might find that those sorts of people would leave the British Army and join, and may be a valuable contribution to start up the new Army.

Q3778 Mr Reid: Yes, but if they are going to be reservists that implies that they will have another job as well. Do you think that the Scottish defence force would be able to attract people who perhaps have a full-time job in the British Army and still several years of service that they could have if they wanted it?

Dr Mileham: As reservists?

Mr Reid: Yes. Would it be able to attract them to come to Scotland as reservists and find another job as well?

Dr Mileham: It might, but one has to look at the way in which the current move towards reliance on reservists actually happens and whether one reads-shock, horror-that it is not working or whether one is pragmatic and calm about it, saying "Yes, it will." We do not really know. Of course, the basis of all service in all British Armies, except for a couple of times in their history, has been volunteers. That is what makes the Army professional.

On regeneration and mobilisation, could we mobilise the whole of the British population for a war of national survival, as we did 100 years ago? Will that face our children and grandchildren at some time? We have been spared so far, but that is at the back of one’s mind. If you have an existing Army, it can regenerate because it has that background, experience and so on. I have been listening to the commander of Joint Forces talking about the fact that we may have to think about mobilisation for real for defence of the UK, with or without Scotland. We do not really know whether Scotland would contribute massively to the defence of our islands, seek neutrality or do something quite different.

Q3779 Chair: I want to follow up on one of the points you have just made. You mentioned as an aside the possible Chinese invasion. I know that the Chinese have a half-share in Grangemouth refinery, but I had not thought about their possibly using it as a basis for invasion. Maybe if we ever get Ineos in front of us we will seek clarification on that.

I wanted to ask about the combat support arms and the combat service support arms. We have heard that, for the combat arms, there are units that the Scottish Government can lay claim to; we discussed the Scots Guards. Unless I am mistaken, there are no combat support arms or combat service support arms that are in any way identifiably Scottish. If there were a negotiation between a separate Scottish Government and the UK Government, there is no unit about which the Scottish Government could say, "We want that back because it has a Scottish flag on it." Establishing all of these-which is two thirds of the Army-would be entirely dependent on the transfer of individuals, wouldn’t it? There is no guarantee that the individual mix that came forward would be in the right proportions, with the right skill mix or anything at all?

Dr Mileham: I think that is right. As I said, the Scottish Gunners is a nickname, not an official name. I forget which regiment it is, but you might find that quite a number decided to transfer across to a Scottish Army and that some deal was done-they would be honourably discharged from the British Army and honourably taken on. It might be not just individuals but a group of people with an expertise who could form the nucleus of a new gunner regiment in Scotland. That is possible.

Q3780 Chair: If, for the sake of argument, nobody in the combat support arms or the combat service support arms wanted to transfer, you would be left entirely with an infantry force that was good for the tattoo and parades but would not be able to fight anybody because it would have no support-unless it got all the support from somebody else in NATO. However, since it is not guaranteed that they would be in NATO, effectively they would be powerless. Is that a reasonable set of assumptions?

Dr Mileham: If there were a yes vote, I think the negotiations with the Ministry of Defence in London for all the three services would be on the basis that the 7,000 or 8,000 people recruited north of the border who are in Scottish regiments or other regiments and corps of the British Army would be given the option individually. There would be no question of saying, "Let’s transfer a platoon across, even if we have to pack that platoon with applicants." I think it would be on an individual basis. There are issues such as whether or not pensions rights would be carried across, all of which would have to be negotiated.

I guess that there would be a huge amount of confusion within the ranks of the Army officers and soldiers. There would also be a lot of confusion in Scotland about what they were getting. Those who wanted it would see it coming, while for those who did not want it, it would be a fait accompli; they would have to accept whatever number of individuals came across the border. Yesterday I had a conversation on the telephone with Peter Snow, who is rather good on voting traditions and so on. He said that he thought there would be an enormous amount of confusion within the Scottish electorate about what they were getting from defence-quite apart from every other Department, of which there are dozens-and sort of inheriting by people coming across as individuals or what they were setting up anew. Despite any number of papers, in theory, in the period after the referendum and before the actual schism, people just would not know what was going to happen. I suspect that would go on for some months or maybe years afterwards.

Q3781 Chair: I want to pursue the question of terms and conditions, because service personnel will be entitled to vote. Is it reasonable for us and for the electors who will vote in the referendum to know what sorts of terms and conditions would be on offer from separate Scottish armed services after separation in order that when they cast their votes-particularly the service personnel-they are not simply getting a pig in a poke? Is it realistic for us to ask the Scottish Government to produce that before the referendum?

Dr Mileham: To be kind to individuals, yes, you ought to press the Scottish Government on that.

Chair: Good.

Dr Mileham: How far they would negotiate with the Ministry of Defence I would not be able to answer, because the MOD will not speak to me.

Q3782 Chair: Can we just pursue that? I understand that there will be a negotiation with the Ministry of Defence on various things, but if they want to attract people and, therefore, want people to express a view that they want to come to separate Scottish forces, surely they ought to spell out what their offer is. Presumably their offer would not be dependent on the Ministry of Defence. The question of transfer of pension rights might be dependent on the Ministry of Defence, but I would have thought that lots of things such as what the salary level and level of housing will be, and so on, could be spelled out quite easily beforehand and would be relevant to Scottish or serving personnel who will have a vote in the referendum. Thinking aloud, as it were, is it therefore reasonable for us to ask the Scottish Government to clarify all these points before the referendum is held?

Dr Mileham: I think so. I think they would probably do that anyway, otherwise they would lose any votes they were expecting from serving Scottish personnel, who would be confused about what on earth the offer was likely to be.

Q3783 Chair: So it would almost be a dereliction of duty for the Scottish Government if they did not produce this in the run-up to the referendum.

Dr Mileham: It would be a risk that they would have to take. I do not know how far one can guess whether their defence White Paper will spell out these things.

Chair: We will try to clarify what it is reasonable to expect in these circumstances. What you have said has been very helpful in clarifying matters for us.

Q3784 Pamela Nash: In the written evidence that you submitted, you drew the conclusion that reigniting "a retrospective brand of ‘fighting spirit’…would be…hard to achieve." My understanding of fighting spirit is that it is something born both of a shared British history and tradition and of the links and affinities with the Scottish regiments of which they are a part. Could you expand a bit on your understanding of fighting spirit and why you think that might be difficult to achieve in a separate Scotland?

Dr Mileham: Fighting spirit is all about will-power and whether or not you want to be brave and bold, do your duty and carry out your function, whatever it is. It is a variable. It draws strength from other people within your unit. This is why we talk about sub-units-that is where the fighting spirit really exists.

You can conduct various discussions with people who have come back from Iraq and Afghanistan, asking the question and thinking about wars that are legal, honourable, the right thing to do and so on. You do not go to war unless you expect to be successful; that is one of the criteria. If you ask young NCOs and officers, "What was the success of your last deployment?", their answer invariably is, "To bring everybody back." They are fighting for each other. They do not necessarily understand-and I do not think the British population really understand-what we are doing in Afghanistan, although the British population seem fairly comfortable with it and they support the troops. They know it is now going to end. The local covenants are there, which is a way of expressing support for people who have given their fighting spirit and, often, their lives or limbs. They are supported by the local population, which is a tremendous thing. You might say this is being a bit cynical, but that is because- dare I say it-so many of them are being killed and injured. In my service, even in Northern Ireland and so on, it was not on the same sort of scale at all.

Can you imbue fighting spirit from a standing start? I am not sure you can in a liberal democracy; it is rather difficult. The traditions of fighting spirit come from continuous operations. Since 1945 Britain has fought in more wars and operations than any other nation-not necessarily in terms of scale, but in terms of the number of operations. The British Army has fought in more parts of the world than any other force in history. Rightly or wrongly-dare one say rightly-that has given us a tremendous continuity up until now. The continuity was easily understood by individuals and the population up until about 30 or 40 years ago. You had wars, neat campaigns and understandable attacks and defences-things happening that you could describe easily. Nowadays if you go to Afghanistan, it is OP Telic 13 or 14. What is the difference between 14 and 6? Is it a continuum? Is it a whole story, with a beginning, middle and end, or is it just a pull-out when we think we may have given the Afghan people their own fighting spirit of the right sort? It is all a matter of this will-power to take risks.

Q3785 Pamela Nash: I want to go into a bit more detail. If Scotland were to leave the UK, that shared history would still be there for those individuals, some might argue. Why don’t you think that fighting spirit would carry over? The shared history would still be there. Is it because the future would not be there for them and there would be a big difference in the type of overseas deployment that those forces would see?

Dr Mileham: I do not think the British Army has ever been as unified in whole-Army corporate spirit as it is now. It would have been easier to have taken the Argylls, the Black Watch and the Royal Scots into a new Scottish nation 50 years ago than it would be now. I do not think the population are as fussed now as they would have been 50 years ago.

You ask about fighting spirit, but it is pretty specialised nowadays. You are not allowed to do much fighting. The constraints of the law of armed conflict and military ethics-I do a lot of work on military ethics now-are such that it is quite difficult for a young person to go on to a battlefield and know exactly what he is and is not allowed to do. Whereas in the past a private soldier did not have any responsibilities other than to do what he was told to do-if he did not do what he was told to do, he might get disciplined-that all changed at Nuremberg in 1945, when accountability was put right down to the individual. We know that, and all our people are pretty good and have a pretty well-tuned conscience. Every now and then things go wrong, as they will, but by and large the soldiers know what they have to do.

Fighting spirit is one thing. Aristotle talked about the mean between extremes-deficiency and surplus. I can be told by a sergeant, "Sir, we have to use courageous restraint in the fighting that we do against the Taliban." In some respects, they are much more comfortable with that sort of war than they were with the Iraq counter-insurgency, where you had areas where things were quiet and there was humanitarian support and gentle policing, but the next moment there would be a hot firefight a block away. Switching the rules of engagement from one to the other means that you have to understand what fighting spirit is, how far that can go and how far it has to be restrained when doing what current soldiers are expected to do.

Can you transfer fighting spirit? You cannot be sure of that, as you might get so many people coming across to the new Scots Army who just want comfort and all the benefits-and the parades, tattoos and so on. Incidentally, I took part in the tattoo in 1964, so I know the exuberance of that-

Q3786 Chair: But it could not be described as fighting spirit.

Dr Mileham: Well, yes.

Graeme Morrice: After a few drinks, you never know.

Q3787 Pamela Nash: In your answers to Mr Reid and the Chair, you touched on terms and conditions in a new defence force in Scotland. What do you think those would have to be to attract some of our armed forces away from the remainder of the UK’s armed forces?

Dr Mileham: "Many a mickle maks a muckle"-pay. The terms and conditions of the current military are pretty advanced compared with those of all other occupations. Having said that, there are the difficulties about how far you can order people into danger and what risks they will take when duty of care and health and safety considerations abound. The abolition of the Crown Protection Act about 20 years ago means that now people can take the Ministry of Defence to court, which they could not do before. In some ways that is a problem for the military, but it does keep modern people relatively content that they are being looked after. They will not be committed unless there is that reciprocal commitment. Employment law is as strong as anywhere-probably stronger in some respects-in the current British Army. I suspect that a new Scots Army would immediately transfer all those provisions across. The element of uncertainty about the new Scottish armed forces might be assuaged by higher wages and better pensions.

Q3788 Pamela Nash: Can I be clear? When I have thought about terms and conditions for the military, I have been thinking about how they decide whether to stay with the British Army or come into a Scottish defence force. Do you think that the yes campaign has to make this clear beforehand to allow them to vote in the referendum in the right way, so that it is not just a choice they have to make about their employment afterwards?

Dr Mileham: Going back to what Peter Snow said, in order to avoid confusion both among current serving military people and the Scottish electorate, these things will have to be made much clearer in the lead-up to the referendum. In many respects, you are asking 10,000 servicemen to vote for something carte blanche. If they want to protect their position and to stay in some sort of armed forces, they will want clarity. The onus will be on the Scottish Parliament to make those arrangements clear before the referendum happens. If it does not, it will not get as many votes as it would have got if it had made them clear.

Q3789 Pamela Nash: I have one last question, which goes back to the issue of fighting spirit. Do you think that there is a contradiction between the SNP who are so adamant about rescuing and restoring our regiments, on the one hand, and saying that our armed forces will not be engaged in overseas fighting, on the other? Is there any possible reason that they might do that other than just to win votes?

Dr Mileham: I guess that the SNP want to bring comfort and solace to people who might be worried by saying "We will have armed forces. In theory, they will number so-and-so," or whatever it will be in their White Paper. I suspect that implementing the White Paper will be enormously difficult or very difficult. Maybe after a few years they will bring up credible armed forces on their own and they will draw in some individuals, but I suspect that most of those individuals will have left by the time the armed forces are usable and deployable. It might be two or three years, or it might be five or 10 years-I do not know. There might be a change of plan. Who knows?

Q3790 Graeme Morrice: You also said in your evidence that you thought it was unlikely that the MOD would agree to the transfer of the three named regiments-the Royal Regiment of Scotland, the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards and the Scots Guards. Why did you say that?

Dr Mileham: Because on current planning they are to remain on the ORBAT-the order of battle-up to 2020. The MOD would not show any concession that anything might change. You would have to ask them whether in the event-in two years’ time-it will. They will not tell you at the moment.

Graeme Morrice: That is a very clear and straightforward answer.

Q3791 Chair: Can I clarify the point? If the Scottish Government continue with their policy of expelling Trident at the earliest possible opportunity, is that more or less likely to promote an amicable solution to the issue of the regiments?

Dr Mileham: I am sorry. If the Faslane base-

Chair: How do you think the dispute over Trident is likely to impact on this?

Dr Mileham: In so far as funding both north and south of the border is a factor, it could impinge. The cost of moving Trident from Faslane would be enormous. Who would pay for it? Would there be contributions from the joint pot that currently exists to help to move it? Whether there would be money in Scotland to raise and fund these regiments is a major consideration. You have asked me mainly to talk about the Scottish regiments, but of course what happens with them has implications for other parts of the defence posture of Scotland, and vice versa. The naval questions would impinge on land and air forces as well.

Q3792 Graeme Morrice: Getting back to the three regiments, do you think the British Army would be more likely to disband those regiments than to allow the serving personnel to choose?

Dr Mileham: I do not think I can give an answer to that because I do not think it has been thought through. Every officer in uniform and every civil servant has been told not to make contingency plans. I received a letter saying they were not going to talk to me, that they assumed there would be no change and that there was no planning.

Q3793 Graeme Morrice: I understand where you are coming from on that and that is our understanding as well. If it were to happen, what would disbandment or transfer mean for the legacy and traditions of the Scottish regiments?

Dr Mileham: If the named Scottish regiments started up phoenix-like, shall we say, north of the border and in Dundee, Glasgow or Edinburgh, and there was a will within the population to re-raise them, would the spirit of the regiments, if one dare use the word-yes, one dares-immediately, like a dove-I am sorry, I am getting my metaphors mixed up.

Chair: Like an eagle, possibly, rather than a dove.

Dr Mileham: Like an eagle. Eagles are symbols of emperors. Unfortunately, we do not have any emperors left, although, having said that, of course, there are three eagle feathers for each chief.

Fighting spirit means fighting spirit; it is something tangible or it is nothing. Would that transfer by will of Government, by will of a party, by will of the populace or by will of the soldiers and officers-who knows? I would think that the soldiers might say, "This is a bit of a laugh. Are you really expecting us to buy this?" They are pretty wise, but they would be treated pretty circumspectly by everybody. It could work. You might suddenly find that the Black Watch lives again north of the border, totally Scottish, with no Fijians-unless, inclusively, Fijians have to be there, with their male-voice choirs and rugby.

It is difficult to give you a straight and serious answer. There is a narrow margin between deadly serious stuff and the symbols and traditions that are carried forward. Two weeks ago I was in the States at Notre Dame university, which says that they are Fighting Irish. It has a football team that is called Fighting Irish, which is something to do with the civil war and an Irish brigade nearby. It has a pipe band with tartan, kilts and so on-and rather strange hats, compared with our strange hats. Notre Dame kilted, or whatever they call themselves, are there. Does it mean something? Yes, it does. Do people die for that sort of thing? That is a slightly different matter.

Q3794 Chair: If there are no other questions, as I said to you earlier, at the end we always ask whether there are any answers you had prepared to questions that we have not asked. Are there any issues that you want to raise with us that we have not touched on so far and that you want to bring to our attention as part of our discussion of these subjects?

Dr Mileham: The most important thing that might continue in your minds after this conversation is this business of identity. You could say that these regiments carry enormous identity-and very tangible Scots identity, almost regardless of who is in them. It is the same in Scotland as in other parts of Great Britain. Identity, 50 or 100 years ago, was very clear-national identity, regimental identity or identity with a party, trade union or whatever. Nowadays people have multiple identities-occupational, social, recreational, as consumers, as customers of the national health service or whatever. People feel they have multiple identities, depending on what they are thinking about at the time.

I took my grandchildren to an outdoor exhibition just the other day and felt very grandfatherly. I feel as an academic and as a former soldier. I feel English, with a bit of Scots and a bit of Irish. That is the difficulty with identities. The Scottish referendum is probably all about trying to form some sort of identity for the existing Parliament and for the existing arrangements with the law and those things that are devolved. The identity of something as life and death, at bottom, as fighting troops-not just decorative troops-is perhaps slightly different.

The whole exercise is to do with identity. We love our nation, our Army and our Parliament for what they are. They have identity and we are in accord with all of these institutions-social, political, economic and defence. The armed forces have a very strong identity and commitment. They are in a special category and are doubly trusted. You can read that from the commissioning document. Ten days ago I was at West Point, where there is a thing that says in stone, "I will not lie, steal or cheat." One wonders slightly whether they are above their Government in some of the things that happen in international relations. I am sorry-I should not have said that, but I have.

I think the identity is very strong. It is still strong, maybe in trace elements, and still has resonance with localities. The Royal Regiment of Scotland may be not quite as some of us would wish, but it does seem to work, and that is what has happened. Whether one can go back sensibly I would doubt. The identities are very different now from what they were. They are still strong, but in different ways.

Chair: That has been very helpful. Thank you very much for coming along. We will produce a report in due course. I am sure you will be quoted therein.

Prepared 6th November 2013