Defence | Implementation of the report of the Defence Forces
To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Defence the portions of the report of the Defence Forces that have been implemented or are in the course thereof; 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 its report was published on the 9th of February 2022. 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 the Department of Defence and the Defence Forces. Following this engagement, a High Level Action Plan (HLAP) and a Memo for Government were brought to Government and approved on July 12th 2022.
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 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 move to LOA2 will require an additional 2,000 personnel (civil and military) over and above the current establishment of 9,500. Work has already commenced on this with the recently announced recruitment campaign, ‘BE MORE’.
Some specific initiatives include the immediate commencement of planning for military radar capabilities, including primary radar and the establishment of an Office of Reserve Affairs with the priority objective of developing a regeneration plan for the Reserve Defence Force.
The High Level Action Plan set out initial implementation and oversight structures. An Implementation Oversight Group has been established which met for the first time on the 3rd of October. Subsequently, Ms. Julie Sinnamon was appointed as the Independent Chair of the Implementation Oversight Group with a second meeting taking place on the 17th of November and a third meeting taking place on the 27th of January. A High-Level Steering Board has been established, chaired by the Secretary General of the Department of the Taoiseach, to oversee the implementation. A civil/military Implementation Management Office (IMO) has been established to support the implementation of the overall transformation programme required to implement recommendations from the report of the Commission on the Defence Forces. The initial focus of the IMO is the implementation of the 38 early actions as set out in the High Level Action Plan and the development of an Implementation Plan. Reporting mechanisms have been established to facilitate regular progress reports on the early actions to the IMO and the civil/military Strategic Management Committee.
Government noted that, in light of the Commission’s report, there is an urgent need for HR and cultural transformation in the Defence Forces and this will be prioritised. The High Level Action Plan identifies the recruitment, through an open process, for the new senior-level civilian positions of Head of Transformation and Head of Strategic HR for the Defence Forces as early actions required to progress this transformation.
The High Level Action Plan set out a total of 38 early actions to be completed within 6 months of the Government decision. To date approximately two thirds of these 38 early actions have been achieved, including:
- Head of Transformation and Head of Strategic HR positions advertised externally and progressed;
- Implementation and governance structures developed and initiated including the establishment of an Implementation Oversight Group with an independent chair (Ms. Julie Sinnamon appointed);
- Removing the requirement for a 3 Star Private/Able Seaman to ‘mark time’ for the first three years at that rank;
- Ensuring that all personnel of Private 3 Star/Able Seaman rank are paid the full rate of MSA applicable to the rank;
- Recruitment and induction strategies developed encompassing advertising, expanded recruitment and induction capacity;
Progress has been made on the remaining early actions, with most currently at an advanced stage and due to be completed shortly including: the establishment of an Office of Reserve Affairs; the commencement of Army force design planning and the establishment of a Capability Development planning process and permanent structure. I intend to publish a comprehensive written update on all 38 early actions in the coming weeks.
One of the key early actions is the development of a Detailed Implementation Plan, which is also at an advanced stage. This Detailed Implementation Plan will clearly set out the work that is to be progressed in implementing the Commission recommendations in full. It is a priority for me that this plan is both ambitious and credible and supports the transformation of the Defence Forces and Defence provision in Ireland. My focus is ensuring that we get this plan right to support the transformation of the Defence Forces and Defence provision in Ireland.
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