AN INDEPENDENT Scotland's armed forces should focus on humanitarian aid and peace- keeping duties, Yes campaigners have said.

Veterans for Independence, part of the Yes Scotland group, called for a shift away from "power projection" if Scots vote to leave the UK.

Spokesman Feargal Dalton, a former Royal Navy lieutenant commander, said: "While the military tasks of Scotland's defence forces will be similar to those of the UK and other allies, where Westminster is focused on power projection, I would hope to see an independent Scotland project humanitarian aid and global peace and justice.

"A Yes vote will allow Scotland to refocus its defence forces with greater emphasis on humanitarian aid and global peacekeeping and away from nuclear weapons."

He said Scotland's military traditions would not be ended by a split. The SNP has proposed a Scottish Defence Force of 15,000 regular personnel and 5000 reservists in the event of independence.

Blair Jenkins, chief executive of Yes Scotland, backed the comments, saying Veterans for Independence was a key group with a powerful voice in the debate.

The call came as Alistair Darling, head of the pro-UK Better Together campaign prepared to unveil a Forces Together group for veterans and military families during an appearance at the Scottish Conservative conference in Stirling.

He said: "The British Armed Forces are a source of pride for us all. Over the next few weeks and months, we will be visiting military communities and talking to people there about just how important it is to them that Scotland remains a part of the United Kingdom."

Meanwhile, in a speech to the Tory conference, Defence Minister Philip Dunne claimed Scottish independence would undermine security and cost jobs.

He also hit out at SNP plans to remove nuclear weapons from an independent Scotland.

He said: "It would be deeply irresponsible for any British Government to dismiss the possibility of a nuclear threat to our country over coming decades."

l David Cameron is not leading the campaign to keep Scotland in the United Kingdom, Downing Street has made clear.

Responding to the renewed challenge from Alex Salmond for the Prime Minister to engage with him in a TV head-to-head debate, Mr Cameron's spokesman said: "He is very clear it is for Scottish voices to lead the debate."