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Defence cuts and military base communities
A Scottish Government Minister has called on the UK Government to follow the lead of the United States in offering the highest level of practical assistance and financial support to communities who will be hit hard by the effects of the MoD's defence cuts.
Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead has heard first hand of the support that the US Government provides to communities affected by the closure or downsizing of military bases in America at a meeting today with the Office of Economic Adjustment (OEA) in Washington.
Mr Lochhead used the opportunity of his three-day environment, food and drink-focused visit to America to meet Patrick O'Brien, Director of the OEA, to hear details of the assistance and support the US Government provides to communities adversely impacted by defence programme changes, and called on the UK Government to introduce similar measures in response to the outcome of their Strategic Defence and Security Review.
Mr Lochhead said:
"The Scottish Government learnt a great deal from the Office of Economic Adjustment at our Washington meeting.
"The contrast between the US and UK in how to deal with the run down and closure of military facilities could not be greater.
"Rural communities in the US benefit from focussed and multi-million pound packages of support but Scottish communities face uncertainty and near silence from the MoD. American communities that face the withdrawal of defence jobs benefit from the intervention of a specialist agency but all Scotland receives is vague announcements from Ministers in the House of Commons.
"We can learn a lot from the steps that are taken to help communities and economies in America and hopefully the MoD can step up to the plate and deliver the kind of expertise and help to Scotland that is delivered by governments elsewhere in the world in similar circumstances."