AN independent Scotland could very substantially reduce defence spending and still be able to put up a fight, according to one of Ireland's most respected soldiers.

Dorcha Lee, an influential retired colonel in the republic's army and veteran of UN peacekeeping operations, believes the prospect of military savings could boost the Yes cause in the 2014 referendum.

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He proposes defence spending lower than that outlined by the SNP and warns of the danger of "continuity" – the cobbling together of a Scottish military from inherited British kit and units.

Arguing that it is better to start with a blank sheet of paper, Lee outlines how an independent Scotland could learn from Ireland's experience.

The result would be an efficient and versatile defence force that is strong enough to protect the nation's interests, capable of playing a role in international peacekeeping operations and able to prevent Scotland becoming a back door for anyone seeking to attack the remainder of the UK.

Read his opinion here