Written answers

Tuesday, 6 March 2018

Department of Defence

Defence Forces Reserve Strength

Photo of Bernard DurkanBernard Durkan (Kildare North, Fine Gael)
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32. To ask the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the extent to which membership of the local Defence Forces continues to be maintained at a required level; the extent to which ongoing training standards and requirements are met; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10727/18]

Photo of Paul KehoePaul Kehoe (Wexford, Fine Gael)
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The White Paper on Defence provides for a combined establishment of 4,169 personnel for the Army Reserve and Naval Service Reserve (inclusive of the proposal to increase the Naval Service Reserve establishment from 200 to 300 personnel). I am aware of the shortfall between this figure and the current combined strength of the Army Reserve and Naval Service Reserve which, as of 31st January 2018, is 1,777 effective personnel. However, given the competing recruitment demands at present, where PDF recruitment is and should remain a priority, recruitment to the Reserve is continuing. A total of 139 new recruits were inducted into the RDF in 2017 and there is on-going engagement with applicants from the 2017 recruitment campaign that should yield further inductions. In addition a new recruitment campaign will be launched in 2018.

In terms of ongoing training standards for the Reserve, the White Paper sets out a developmental path for the organisation. On a day to day basis, the Reserve undertakes training in preparation to assist the PDF, when required. Training across all three arms of the Defence Forces is constantly benchmarked against best military and academic practice. Training procedures are constantly reviewed in order to ensure that the men and women of Oglaigh na hÉireann are fully prepared to meet the challenges of the ever changing security environment.

With regard to RDF training, for the current year, Subhead A.5 provides for a budget of €2.15 million of which €2.068 million is allocated for Paid Training Mandays for members of the Reserve. This allocation will provide seven days annual paid training for all effective members of the Reserve, fourteen days paid training for all additional personnel recruited to the Reserve in 2018 and provide for career and specialist courses for selected members of the Reserve in line with Reserve priorities. This provision is sufficient having regard to the existing strength of the RDF and the voluntary nature of Reserve training

I would like to assure the Deputy that I remain committed to the ongoing development of the RDF within the framework set out in the White Paper on Defence.


John Cummins
Posted on 12 Mar 2018 12:48 am (Report this comment)

Minister Paul Kehoe,

Re: RDF recruitment difficulties - a possible solution

As noted in your comment, there are significant difficulties meeting recruitment targets for the RDF.

I would like to suggest one very reasonable way in which this could be addressed - at least partially. The solution would cost nothing and would maintain high standards.


Increase the current age cap (of 35 years) on recruitment to the RDF. Obviously this will increase applications in a way that will not entail a costly recruitment drive.

Also, the quality of recruits need not be reduced. Applicants over 35 should be expected to meet the same criteria that applicants are currently required to meet. Indeed it makes absolutely no sense to refuse an applicant based on their age if they meet all the physical requirements. Physical and mental suitability should be relevant - not age.

In addition, the RDF will have a larger pool of potential recruits to choose from which will contribute to increase the quality of new recruits.

Finally, the empirical evidence supports my view that recruits over 35 (who meet selection criteria) can make a full contribution to the service. The UK Territorial Army has an upper age limit of 49 years of age. Members of the TA are expected to meet high standards and are/were even involved in combat (Afghanistan). The respected TA has found no reason, even in combat, to restrict the age limit below the age of 49.

I believe I have offered a very reasonable argument to support the claim that we should significantly increase the upper age limit currently in place on RDF recruitment. I therefore hope you will consider my point.


John Cummins

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