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I'LL MAKE OUR FORCES FIT FOR 21st CENTURY.

Defence Secretary George Robertson yesterday unveiled his radical shake-up of Britain's armed forces.

But the big announcement was overshadowed by a leak which meant the plans were already public knowledge.

Robertson ordered a full-scale inquiry in a bid to smoke out the mole.

But the leak allowed the Tories to accuse Labour of treating Parliament with contempt and of being obsessed with media manipulation.

Robertson and his military advisers say the Strategic Defence Review means Britain's forces will be better equipped to play a leading role in world affairs.

It will also save hundreds of millions of pounds. And Armed Forces Minister John Reid said it will guarantee more than 100,000 jobs in Scotland alone.

Under the plan, Britain will get two pounds 4billion "super- carriers" which will be able to carry 50 aircraft and will be twice the size of the three carriers they will replace.

A new air cavalry force will be formed, using crack paratroops and special assault helicopters to mount fast, effective operations.

The Territorial Army will be cut from 57,600 personnel to 40,000 - but Robertson promised they would be better trained.

The RAF have been given the go-ahead for 232 Euro-fighter aircraft to replace the old Tornado fighter-bombers.

Britain's stock of Trident nuclear warheads will be cut from 300 to 200 but the Trident fleet and its Clyde base will stay. And Rosyth Dockyard will be kept in work until at least 2007.

An extra 3300 troops will be recruited to the regular Army but other areas will be cut to pay for the new scheme and save pounds 685million by 2001.

A fifth of the MoD's equipment - missiles, ammunition and other assets worth a total of pounds 2.2billion - will be sold.

And pounds 700million will be raised over the next four years by selling off Ministry land and property across the country.

Robertson said: "This review will finally reshape and modernise Britain's armed forces."

The review was given the backing of the military hier-archy, who said it would make operations from Bosnia to the Gulf easier to mount.

Chief of Defence Staff, General Sir Charles Guthrie said: "The Chiefs of Staff and I believe it realigns our forces in the post Cold War world."

But the Strategic Defence Review was attacked by the Tories, who claimed it failed to provide the country with the defences it needed.

Shadow Defence Secretary John Maples said: "In an increasingly dangerous and unstable world, Labour are now going to expect the Armed Forces to do more with less money, less ships and less planes and less men."

Good news at last for Rosyth

THE community of Rosyth was last night celebrating after it was revealed that HMS Spartan will be refitted at the base.

Union spokesman Brian Negus said it was a relief to workers. He added: "It's refreshing news at last. This one safeguards jobs for the near future."

And Karen Ferguson, a barmaid at the Yard pub, added: "We always hoped the Labour Government would look after Rosyth because the Tories didn't. Things are looking up."

DETAILS OF DEFENCE REVIEW

NAVY

Number of aircraft carriers to fall from three to two 'supercarriers' and carry 40-50 aircraft each.

Destroyers and frigates to fall from 35 to 32.

Submarines to fall from 12 to 10.

Minesweepers to rise from 19 to 22.

Stockpile of Trident warheads to fall from 300 to 200.

ARMY

Territorial Army to be cut from 57,000 to 40,000.

8 existing Tank regiments to be streamlined into 6 larger regiments, each with 58 tanks and 600 men.

Two Tank regiments become an armoured reconnaisance unit.

2,500 troops to be brought back from Germany to U.K.

AIR FORCE

Gains 232 new Eurofighter planes.

Loses 35 support aircraft.

EQUIPMENT

20% of MoD equipment missiles, ammunition and other assets worth a total of pounds 2.2billion to be sold over the next four years.

pounds 700 million to be raised over the next 4 years by the sale of MoD land.
COPYRIGHT 1998 Scottish Daily Record & Sunday
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Copyright 1998 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Jul 9, 1998
Words:671
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