Proposals to restructure defence forces being developed

Irish Minister for Justice, Equality & Defence Alan Shatter has said that proposals to re-organise the structure of the Defence Forces are still being developed.

Minister for Justice, Equality & Defence Alan Shatter has said that proposals to re-organise the structure of the Defence Forces are still being developed.

At the end of last year, the minister announced that he intended to reduce the number of brigades from three to two, following the reduction in military strength to 9,500.

However, speaking to a Select Oireachtas Committee, Mr Shatter said the total strength of the Permanent Defence Force at the end of March was 8,899, with 7,192 in the Army, 947 in the Naval Service and 760 in the Air Corps.

Pending the re-organisation of the Forces, Mr Shatter said priority posts are being filled by promotion and recruitment.

He recently approved the recruitment of up to 600 enlisted personnel along with the induction of 42 cadets to bring the strength up to the approved level in 2012.

There were 139 officer promotions in 2011, and a further 120 to the end of April 2012.

A value for money review of the Reserve Defence Force is continuing.

During 2011 and in early 2012, the numbers who retired from the Permanent Defence Force with entitlement to pension and retirement gratuity were considerably higher than anticipated.

Up to the end of 2011, a total of 498 military personnel of all ranks retired on pension.

A further 510 personnel retired on pensions in the first two months of this year. Mr Shatter said these recent retirements far exceeded expectations, considering that retirements in 2011 were already above average.

Mr Shatter also said that, like all Departments, business cases for each allowance claimed by the military have been submitted to the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.

Ireland is contributing 437 Defence Forces personnel to 12 different missions throughout the world at present.

Ireland is currently participating in two European Defence Agency Projects, one on Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Protection (CBRN) and the other on Maritime Surveillance (MARSUR).

Mr Shatter said the Irish Naval Service will play a lead role in an EDA study on naval mariner training.

The objective of the study is to review what naval training is available across the Union with a view to consolidating EU capabilities in this area.

Tags: Chemical, Military, Army, Protection, Biological, Nuclear, Radiological

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