The head of the UK’s armed forces has said he will not speculate on the “political ambition” of the SNP’s drive for Scottish independence.
Admiral Sir Tony Radakin, the chief of the defence staff, said the armed forces were “really strong” in Scotland and emphasised the military’s investment north of the border.
The admiral, who began his role as the professional head of the armed forces in November, visited Edinburgh Castle on Wednesday and saw the One O’Clock Gun being fired.
During his time in Scotland, he spoke to soldiers from the 51st brigade and civil servants at a conference in Edinburgh.
On Tuesday, Nicola Sturgeon released a paper which is intended to be the first in the Scottish Government’s renewed prospectus for Scottish independence.
Asked about this in an interview with the PA news agency, he said: “I don’t think it would be correct for me to speculate on a political ambition.
“All I can say is that the UK’s armed forces serve the whole of the UK.
“We’re in a Platinum Jubilee year, we’re Her Majesty’s armed forces, and we’re really strong in Scotland.
“All our submarines are based in Scotland. All our maritime patrol aircraft are based in Scotland. All our primary shipbuilding is done in Scotland.”
He said there were more than 10,000 servicemen and women based in Scotland while the defence industry directly employed at least 12,000 people.
Admiral Radakin continued: “That’s what we provide for the people of Scotland.
“That’s what we provide for the whole of the United Kingdom, hopefully to help us collectively look after our security and also engender increased prosperity for the whole of the United Kingdom.”
The Scottish Government intends to discuss defence issues in an independent Scotland in one of its future papers.
Admiral Radakin said it would not be appropriate for someone in his role to make suggestions to a political party.
He said: “Scotland is really important to us, is demonstrated by the investment that goes on here.”