Thursday, 11 July 2019
Department of Defence
Defence Forces Review
I propose to take Questions Nos. 102 and 103 together.
Ireland’s relations with NATO are set within the framework of the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC) and Partnership for Peace (PfP), including its Planning and Review Process (PARP). The primary aim of Ireland's PfP participation is to enhance the Defence Forces’ interoperability with other professional military forces for the purpose of engaging in UN authorised peacekeeping and peace support operations led by the UN, EU or NATO.
Ireland participates in the PfP Planning and Review Process (PARP), which is a mechanism for planning and capability development for Defence Forces deployment on peace support operations that allows for external review of defence capability and provision. PARP is based on a biennial cycle which defines priority areas, elaborates mutually agreed planning targets known as PARP goals, identifies the steps required to meet those targets and jointly reviews progress in implementing them. The cyclical nature of the PARP process along with the further assistance received from NATO in providing their experience to Defence Forces capacity and capability ensures on-going development in our Defence Forces based on the current and ever changing security environment. Ireland completed it's PARP assessment process in June this year.
The PARP assessment is based on an analysis of a number of predetermined goals, of which some are now considered implemented with the capabilities being maintained, some are fully completed, and some are currently being implemented. Ireland’s involvement in Partnership for Peace has delivered significant improvements for our Defence Forces in terms of capability development and operational capacity. This has enabled us to make a positive impact, particularly in undertaking more demanding international crisis management operations.
In tandem with the recent PARP review, given that this year marks the 20th anniversary of Ireland's participation in PfP, a review of the scope and effectiveness of Ireland's engagement in PfP has been initiated by the Department of Defence in association with colleagues in the Defence Forces and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. The purpose of this review is to ensure that Ireland is getting full value from our PfP engagement, including on interoperability and capability development, given the changing nature of the security environment and the threats faced. This review has included meetings at senior official level with NATO staff and a more expansive and in-depth engagement between the Department, the Defence Forces, and the NATO International Staff who conduct the biennial PARP reviews. It is expected that this review will be completed later this year.
The PARP assessment documents contain confidential information. The documents have not been published to-date and it is not my intention to depart from the standing practice of not publishing the PARP documents. A report and assessment on the feedback from the recent engagement with the NATO International Staff on the PARP process and on capabilities should be finalised in the coming months and I will consider the report and its conclusions at that stage.