RECRUITS signing up to join an independent Scotland's army would be offered a job for life under plans being considered by the Scottish Government.

Veterans Minister Keith Brown told MPs yesterday that men and women risking their lives for the nation in war zones should not be "looking over their shoulder ... to see if they are about to be handed a P45".

The proposal follows recent claims from defence experts that Scotland could struggle to recruit enough personnel to defend the nation.

During evidence to the House of Commons Defence Committee on the impact of independence, Mr Brown said the job for life offer would make Scotland's forces more attractive to recruits than the British Army.

Last month the Ministry of Defence announced almost 4500 army personnel would be axed in the latest cut-backs following the 2010 defence review. It has long-term plans to reduce the number of regular soldiers from 102,000 to 82,000.

More than 500 Scottish members of the armed forces have already lost their jobs since the Coalition Government came to power.

The Scottish Government is also looking at "an agreement whereby there was no compulsory redundancies for people serving within the armed forces during the term of their contract", Mr Brown said.

Among the other perks being considered include greater freedom and an improved career development.

Mr Brown faced accusations of a U-turn after he admitted for the first time that an independent Scotland would have to apply to join Nato.

However, his administration's hopes of a Trident-free independent Scotland received a blow as UK Defence Secretary Philip Hammond warned removing the nuclear deterrent from the Clyde would take at least 10 years.

Mr Brown conceded Scotland would have to apply for membership of Nato and there was no guarantee it would be accepted into the international nuclear alliance.

That statement appeared to be at odds with previous claims by Cabinet colleagues that an independent Scotland's Nato membership would continue and it would not have to re-apply.

In April, First Minister Alex Salmond described the situation as "parallel with the European Union: you notify your intent to remain a member".

Mr Brown told MPs: "There are fairly substantial processes to go through but it has been done relatively quickly in the past with some of the Eastern European countries.

"I don't want to give the impression this is an automatic assumption. We will go through the processes."

Labour's Shadow Defence Secretary Jim Murphy seized on Mr Brown's comments, saying: "The SNP's defence policy unravels each time they open their mouth.

"It is little wonder Scotland does not trust the SNP on defence."

Giving evidence to the same committee, Mr Hammond went further, suggesting Scotland's membership of Nato could be blocked by the UK Government.

"The position of the government of the rest of the UK would be one of considered self-interest," he said.

In what amounted to the most detailed outline of the composition of the Scottish military post-independence, Mr Brown also suggested they would not include the Typhoon fleet currently based at RAF Leuchars in Fife.

The aircraft were "beyond the requirements" of the nation, he said.

He said an independent Scotland would require just one airbase, despite the SNP's campaign against UK Government plans to close RAF bases.

Mr Brown said Scottish ministers has yet to decide which ships a Scottish Navy would need or the size of its budget.

For his part, Mr Hammond warned he could not guarantee Sandhurst places to train large numbers of Scottish officers.

The Defence Secretary also said it would be cheaper for the UK Government to commission yards in Spain or Italy to build warships than those in an independent Scotland.

Committee member Thomas Docherty, the Labour MP for Dunfermline and West Fife, also questioned the practicality of guaranteeing no compulsory redundancies within the Scottish army. He said that the British Army regularly had to "churn" personnel because of the need for young, fit staff.

"Are you really going to have a bunch of relatively old soldiers?" he asked.