Defence | Army forces capabilities
To ask the Minister for Defence the degree to which the Army continues to be modernised in terms of its structure, efficacy and its ability to respond to emergencies, if and when they arise; 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.
One of the Early Actions identified in the High Level Action Plan is a review of the structure of the Army, on foot of this the Military Authorities are progressing the establishment of an office of Army Force Design which will undertake the work required to give effect to this recommendation.
In accordance with the Framework for Major Emergency Management, primary responsibility for responding to emergencies, including security events, rests with the three designated principal response agencies, namely, the relevant Local Authority, An Garda Síochána, and the Health Service Executive. The Defence Forces provide the fullest possible assistance to the appropriate Lead Department in the event of an emergency situation in its Aid to the Civil Authority role.
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 and that the command structure within the Defence Forces is compatible with the requirements in this area.
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