The purpose of this Bill is very well known to the Dáil, as similar Bills have been before the Dáil on a number of occasions. A Bill such as this is necessary to renew the legislation governing the defence forces, as otherwise the control of the Oireachtas over the Army would, to a large extent, lapse on the 31st of March next, and military law would cease to have effect from that date. It has been understood all along that the present Acts do not consist of provisions for the government of the Army that are final in form. Another Bill constructed in the light of our experience in defence matters will be introduced, I hope and I expect, within the next year. In the meantime it is, as I have just mentioned, essential to provide for the maintenance of the Army until the 31st March, 1929, or until the passing of any Act making similar provision.
With regard to the policy, the formation and the character of the Army, our idea, and the type of army that we propose ultimately reaching, is an army composed of three parts—a standing army, a reserve, and a territorial or a militia force. Up to the present the Army has consisted solely of a standing army. Our idea is that that standing army should be maintained as the framework of a much bigger force, which will include the reserve in the immediate future and a territorial force in the almost immediate future. The territorial force will consist of men partly or wholly trained; but although we aim at having an army, as I say, in this form, which will consist of a standing army much smaller than the present, a reserve which is just coming into being, and the militia which we hope to bring into being at a later stage, there are certain things which make it impossible for us to go quite as quickly as we would like to go. The standing army should, as soon as possible, become the framework of the whole army, but, as I say, there are certain considerations which make it impossible for us to move on towards that end as quickly as we would like.
The political situation has prevented that feeling of security which is a normal thing in most countries, and which, I hope, is being very rapidly established here. Owing to that lack of political security it is necessary for the Army to provide guards to a greater extent than would ordinarily be required. The same political causes make it necessary for us to keep in being more military posts throughout the country than would be needed after a long period of political rest. The defence of our coast, maintained by the British under the Treaty, has required so far that we should maintain a military post nearby.
Though undoubtedly those abnormal causes are passing away with commendable rapidity, for some time to come there must remain considerations that will affect the speed with which we move towards the Army organisation I have mentioned. Another thing that will be a temporary stop to our progress towards that end is the fact that various technical corps, such as artillery, air and other corps, need specialised training which could not be given during the infantryman's period of army service, and therefore the period of service in the case of the corps is longer, namely, five years for the colours and seven for the reserve. That means that the movement of these technical men to the reserve is slower than that of the infantry. The character of the framework which is being formed as a nucleus of our defence forces is modified by this fact and is also affected by the need of maintaining standing troops for the purposes of national defence and for the purposes of training.
In view of the type of army we have in mind, composed of three parts, of which the standing Army will be the smallest, it is necessary for us to consider discipline and training and to consider them to an extraordinary degree. I think that during the present year military training is being carried out intensively and that very good progress is being made. It will be remembered that we sent certain officers to America for the purpose of being able to establish, when they came back, a military college. These men have come back from America and we intend to establish a military college without delay. I do not think I need go into the matter further. This Bill is the type of Bill that has been introduced in the Dáil a number of times and people have criticised us for not moving on to the permanent Bill more quickly. I think we have been well advised of the circumstances that prevented our moving on to the permanent Bill more rapidly. I do think, as far as one can judge the situation, that within the next twelve months we shall be able to introduce a Bill which will supersede the Bill I am moving. I move that this Bill receives a Second Reading, so that the Army may be maintained in being, and so that the Oireachtas will maintain control of the Army until the 31st March, 1929, or until such time that the Bill which I hope to introduce becomes law.