A plan to cut the number of armed guards at Army bases including Leuchars – in a bid to save £55 million – has sparked fears that security could be compromised.
The MoD will remove 500 guards from the Military Provost Guard Service (MPGS) across the UK, replacing them with civil servants.
The MPGS consists of about 3,000 weapon-trained military personnel – 100 of them in Scotland – who are deployed to protect the Army’s bases across the UK, which also includes Fort George and Kinloss.
Fears Leuchars security could be ‘significantly compromised’
Duties include controlling entry and exit to sites, managing control room operations, patrolling site perimeters, and security incident management like suspicious packages and bomb threats.
The uniformed guards must have previous military experience and are trained to carry arms when required.
The 500 positions will be transferred to the civilian MoD Guard Service.
The government need to explain clearly the reasoning for this change, otherwise it will be seen as more evidence of the Conservatives cutting vital parts of the armed forces”
Wendy Chamberlain MP
A source linked to the Leuchars Station Army base, where there are thought to be about 40 MPGS personnel, says staff were informed of the changes on Monday.
It is claimed they now fear base security will be “significantly compromised” – and that some soldiers may be forced to relocate.
The source added: “Staff shortages and security is already stretched at Leuchars and this move adds further strain on the station’s ability to remain protected and safe.”
Wendy Chamberlain, MP for North East Fife, has called for assurances from the MoD.
She said: “The security of military bases is of paramount importance.
“The government need to explain clearly the reasoning for this change, otherwise it will be seen as more evidence of the Conservatives cutting vital parts of the armed forces.”
Guards’ contracts may not be renewed – Army
A Scottish Government spokesperson told The Courier it also wants the MoD to “offer reassurance that these reductions do not impact negatively on security at these bases”.
An Army spokesperson says those affected may be offered employment opportunities at other sites across the UK that are under-strength.
The MoD insists there will not be any redundancies, however some guards will not be able to renew their current contracts.
The spokesperson said: “All Army sites will continue to be manned by armed guards.
“Over the next three years we will convert approximately 500 Military Provost Guard Service positions to MoD Guard Service civilian posts.
“There will be no redundancies and the measures will save around £55m over 10 years.”
Future for Black Watch at Leuchars
Leuchars operated as an RAF base until it was transferred to the Army in 2015.
Leuchars Station, as it was renamed, houses about 800 military personnel as well as about 100 civil servants.
Plans for a multimillion-pound revamp of Leuchars, to make it the home of the Black Watch Battalion by 2029, were announced in February.