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Defence | Defence Forces modernisation and effective

To ask the Minister for Defence the degree to which the Defence Forces are being modernised and coordinated in such a way as to ensure maximum effectiveness in all required situations; and if he will make a statement on the matter.


The Commission on the Defence Forces was established on foot of a commitment in the Programme for Government, and I, as Minister for Defence, welcomed the publication of the report of the Commission on 9th February last.  The Commission has undertaken a significant body of work, encompassing wide-ranging terms of reference.  It recommends significant changes for the Defence Forces and Defence provision in Ireland. It covers high-level Defence Forces structures, defence capabilities, organisation, culture and human resources, the Reserve Defence Force and funding.

Given the significant recommendations contained in the Report, detailed consideration of these recommendations was undertaken over a period of 5 months by my Department and the Defence Forces.  This involved significant inter-departmental consultation, and I and my officials have engaged with key stakeholders to ascertain their views. Following this engagement, I returned to Government with a High Level Action Plan and a Memo for Government which were approved on July 12th of this year.

This involved the approval of a move to ‘Level of Ambition 2’ (LOA2), as set out in the capability framework devised by the Commission on the Defence Forces. This will result in the Defence budget rising from €1.1 billion to €1.5 billion, in 2022 prices, by 2028, the largest increase in Defence funding in the history of the State. This will allow for the required substantial transformation and investment in recruitment and equipment that were identified by the Commission.  The recent Budget for 2023 included an increase of €67m over the 2022 budget for Defence.  This includes an almost 25% increase in Capital funding and demonstrates the Government’s strong commitment to support the transformation of the Defence Forces into a modern, agile military force, capable of responding to increasingly complex security threats.

The report of the Commission on the Defence Forces and the current events in Ukraine are prompting an open debate and consideration of our defence requirements. There is an ongoing requirement to consider whether the capabilities we maintain are appropriate, having regard to the security environment, the roles that we wish the Defence Forces to undertake, and likely risks. For this reason one of the Early Actions arising out of High Level Action Plan for the Report of the Commission on the Defence Forces is the commencement of the Strategic Defence Review.  This review is the second in the cycle of reviews as proposed in the White Paper on Defence and follows the 2019 White Paper Update. These cycle of reviews are to give assurance that defence policy remains up to date and relevant to the changing circumstances and bring certainty and regularity to defence planning.

As set out in the White Paper these reviews will be based on an updated security assessment and a fresh consideration of the implications of this assessment for policy requirements, associated tasks, capability development and resourcing.

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