Scottish land has for a long time played a key role in British military strategy. The Ministry of Defence is a significant landowner in Scotland, owning or having access to nearly 1.5% of the land,1 and Scots are disproportionately represented within the British army, including among troops in Iraq.
There are many military bases around the country and according to Scottish CND, Scotland’s main role now seems to be for testing weapons and training people to use them. For example, NATO practices bombing the north west coast every summer at Cape Wrath, and Dundrennan in the south west is Britain’s only open-air testing area for depleted uranium. Also of interest is the NATO satellite communications system at Balado Bridge, Kinross, right next to the ‘T in the Park’ festival site. Most of Britain’s weapons of mass destruction are kept in Scotland, at the Faslane and Coulport bases just west of Glasgow. It can be noted that much of dangerous stuff the MoD does is based in Scotland.
Various Scottish bases were used for the attack on Iraq. Cluster bombs were tested at West Freugh in Wigtownshire, owned by QinetiQ. The aircraft carrier Ark Royal, whilst at Loch Long near Faslane, was targeted by activists in January 2003 before its departure to Iraq.2
For detailed information about MoD and privatised military establishments in Scotland, read Scottish CND’s excellent little book ‘Fortress Scotland’, available for £2.
QinetiQ was created in 2001 as a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) takeover of part of the MoD’s Defence Evaluation and Research Agency (DERA). It describes itself as a ‘defence and security technology company’. It develops and tests new weapons and ‘future concepts’ in defence technology including ballistic missile defence. 80% of Qinetiq sales are military and the MoD is its largest customer3. It is also involved in developing a whole new class of weapons using nanotechnology.
In December 2002 one third of the company was sold to the Carlyle Group, one of the largest venture capital companies in the world and among America’s largest military contractors. The group is chaired by Frank Carlucci, Ronald Reagan’s Secretary of Defence. George Bush Sr. was a senior advisor until 2003. Also on the board are James Baker III, a lawyer who has been advising and campaigning for Republican leaders since 1975 and fellow Republican adviser Richard G Darman. Former Conservative Prime Minister John Major is on the board in Europe.4 The Carlyle Group is one of several American companies who have provided mercenary soldiers and military and police training to other countries around the world, including some with questionable human rights records.5
QinetiQ manages DERA’s 42 installations in the UK including at least 12 in Scotland.
BAe Systems (formerly British Aerospace) is Britain’s largest arms company and the fourth largest in the world. According to Campaign against the Arms Trade, the company receives more support from the current Labour government than any other arms companies, despite repeated corruption allegations.
Less than 20% of BAe’s sales are to the UK. Its largest customer is the US Department of Defence, followed by markets in the Middle East including Saudi Arabia and Israel. It has also made lucrative deals with India while it was on the verge of war with Pakistan over Kashmir, and Indonesia during the occupation of East Timor. In 2004 BAe took over arms manufacturer Alvis.6
BAe has a facility in Edinburgh and a shipyard on the Clyde which may be sold soon.7
Thales is the largest French arms company (and seventh largest in the world). The French government owns a 33% stake.8 Thales Identification is involved in developing ID cards in the UK, and since 2002 has been in charge of producing ID Smartcards in China.9
Thales has offices in Glasgow and on the outskirts of Edinburgh.
Rolls-Royce powers all of the UK’s nuclear submarines. It also makes engines for warplanes, ships and submarines that are sold to 109 countries around the world. A famous example is the Hawk jet (made by BAe Systems with an engine from Rolls-Royce).
Rolls-Royce’s financial results from 2002 showed a substantial shift towards the military market, attributed to ‘increasing regional tensions in many parts of the world’.
Rolls Royce operates in Scotland at East Kilbride and Hillington (soon to close) and at Inchinnan near Glasgow airport (opened Oct 04).10
Babcock describes itself as ‘a focused support services company working primarily with public sector institutions…Our vision is to become the partner of choice for supporting the outsourcing needs of government and private sector customers who have exacting technical and operational requirements.’11
Babcock’s activities in Scotland include:
Babcock Engineering Services based at Rosyth Business Park. BES maintains the UK’s warships including the Ark Royal. It also has a deal with AMEC building Heathrow’s new Terminal 5.12
Babcock Naval Services based at HMNB Clyde (Faslane). BNS provides ‘support services’ to the MoD at Faslane naval base. When the programme started in 2002, 1600 civil servants were transferred to BNS.13
First Engineering based in Glasgow, which deals only with trains.14
Babcock also operates in other countries in Europe, the USA and Africa. The company website tells you where to find them.15
Babcock and BAe Systems share two directors – Rt. Hon. Lord Alexander Hesketh KBE and Mike Turner CBE.16
Raytheon is the UK subsidiary of American weapons producer Raytheon.17 According to its own information, some of its products were used in Iraq.18
It has an ‘electronic systems facility’ in Glenrothes, Fife which ‘provides a full electronic manufacturing service for both the commercial and defence sectors’.19
In December 2004, the Ministry of Defence announced that Halliburton subsidiary, Kellogg Brown & Root (KBR) had won the contract for the final assembly of two aircraft carriers for the Ministry of Defence in Rosyth dockyard on the Firth of Forth.
The choice of KBR at this time seems especially interesting as Halliburton stands accused of defrauding the US military over its work in Iraq, has had its assets frozen as part of an investigation into bribery in Nigeria and KBR itself is in bankruptcy proceedings in the US due to unrelated asbestosis liabilities. Halliburton has also thrown its Scottish employees into uncertainty confirming that it is considering selling off KBR after the settlement of the asbestos claims.20 Halliburton’s track record in the UK is also questionable. Its one UK contract, to refit and decommission Trident nuclear submarines at its dockyard owned by KBR subsidiary DML Ltd in Devonport, Plymouth, has been plagued by spiralling costs, security lapses and radiation leaks. See also the ‘Oil Industry’ section.
See Weir Group profile in the ‘Oil Industry’ section.
Scottish Campaign for Nuclear Diasarmament, ‘Fortress Scotland 2004’
‘A catalogue of failures: G8 arms exports and human rights violations’, Amnesty International, 19.05.0. Other companies mentioned in the same category include the Vinnell Corporation, Dyncorp, MPRI and BDM.http://web.amnesty.org/library/Index/ENGIOR300032003 Last viewed 21.03.05
‘CENTAF chooses Solipsys to augment air defense for deployed forces in Iraq,’ Raytheon Solipsys Integrated Defense Systems, News, 05.01.04, www.solipsys.com/news_article.php?id=101 Last viewed 21.03.05