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Defence | Defence Forces operational capacities

To ask the Minister for Defence the extent to which the strength of the Army, Naval Service and Air Corps are currently being brought up to optimum levels; and if he will make a statement on the matter.


As at 31 August, 2022, the latest date such details are available, the strength of the PDF was 8,146 personnel or 86% of the current agreed strength of 9,500. This was comprised of

  • Army                          6,621
  • Air Corps                      704
  • Naval Service                821

My focus is now on bringing the strength of the Defence Forces to the numbers required to meet the agreed level of ambition arising from the report of the Commission on the Defence Forces. There are a number of initiatives which are presently being implemented to counter current staffing challenges including:

  • Commitment schemes in the Air Corps and Naval Service
  • A special tax credit for seagoing Naval Service personnel
  • A re-entry scheme for former personnel
  • Ongoing recruitment, including direct entry competitions
  • The ongoing review of the scope, and terms and conditions, of direct entry competitions to improve intakes
  • Significant progress on pay within the Defence Forces including increases from recent pay agreements

The capacity of the Defence Forces to undertake the tasks assigned by Government continues to be carefully monitored to ensure they retain their capacity to operate effectively across all roles and to undertake the tasks laid down by Government, both at home and abroad.

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