Thursday, 7 November 2019
Department of Defence
Defence Forces Strength
36. To ask the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the extent to which the numbers in the Defence Forces have fluctuated in the past three years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45991/19]
37. To ask the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the degree to which membership of the Air Corps has fluctuated in the past three years to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45992/19]
38. To ask the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the degree to which membership of the Naval Service has fluctuated in the past three years to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45993/19]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 36 to 38, inclusive, together.
The table below illustrates the extent to which the numbers in the Defence Forces have fluctuated in the past three years:
|Year||Army||Air Corps||Naval Service||Total PDF Strength (WTE)||Army Reserve||Naval Reserve||Total AR and NSR Strength (Effective)|
*as at 30th September 2019, the latest date for which such data is available.
Recruitment and inductions will continue throughout 2019 to ensure the Defence Forces retain the capacity to operate effectively across all roles.
39. To ask the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the extent to which the strength of the Army, Naval Service and Air Corps continues to be sufficient to meet eventualities in the event of a natural disaster or a terror offence; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [45994/19]
My priority as Minister with responsibility for Defence is to ensure that the operational capability of the Army, Air Corps and Naval Service is maintained to the greatest extent possible.
The allocation of over €1 billion for the Defence Sector for 2020, an increase of €32.3m on 2019, emphasises the importance attached by the Government to ensuring that the Defence Forces have the resources necessary to deliver on all roles assigned, both at home and overseas.
In terms of personnel, the Defence Forces retain a wide range of specialist skills and equipment. The full spectrum of personnel and equipment are available for deployment in response to any emergencies that may arise. Between 2016 and 2018 over 2,000 personnel were inducted into the Permanent Defence Force while, in February 2019, the largest ever cadet class in the history of the State was commissioned. Nevertheless, I recognise that reaching a strength level of 9,500 personnel is a key challenge but I am committed to ensuring that the Defence Forces have the means to continue to carry out all of the roles assigned by Government.
At National level, representation on the Government Task Force on Emergency Planning by both the Department of Defence and the Defence Forces, ensures the fullest coordination and cooperation in the event of an emergency. In accordance with the Framework for Major Emergency Management, primary responsibility for responding to emergencies such as a natural disaster rests with three designated principal response agencies, namely, An Garda Síochána, the relevant Local Authority and the Health Service Executive. The Defence Forces provide the fullest possible assistance to the appropriate Lead Department in the event of a natural disaster or an emergency situation in its Aid to the Civil Authority and Aid to the Civil Power (ATCP) roles. Major Emergency Plans have been developed by local and regional authorities and these Plans identify the procedures for requesting assistance from the Defence Forces.