I move amendment No. 19:—
In page 21, Section 20, between lines 11 and 12, to insert a new paragraph as follows:—
(b) officers who have retired on pension from the permanent Defence Forces and who on retirement are appointed as officers of the Reserve Defence Force in the rank held by them on such retirement or in any higher rank.
This amendment is designed to provide that officers of the permanent Defence Forces who retire will be eligible for appointment as officers of the Reserve Defence Forces in the rank they held on retirement or in any higher rank. At the moment, officers who retire from the Defence Forces on pension are entitled to receive their pensions but they are not obliged to continue to serve in the Defence Forces of the State. We have the position that a young man of perhaps 45, with 25 years' service and experience, retires on pension. That man has no obligations to serve the State any longer. In this amendment I propose that those officers would be commissioned in the Reserve in the rank they held on retirement or in any other higher rank, and that their service and experience would be available to the State until they reached an age at which they would no longer be capable of serving in the Defence Forces. We have had practical experience of that type of Reserve officer. In the 'twenties and 'thirties, officers who retired from the Regular Defence Forces were appointed to the Reserve of officers in the substantive rank they held on retirement. These men were, in fact, the vital machinery of the Reserve Forces at the time of the emergency. The State had the great advantage that those experienced officers who were then called up on the Reserve during the emergency fitted into vital administrative posts. They were, in fact, even more than the Regular Army at the time, responsible for the efficient organisation and training of the forces that were recruited and called up during that emergency period. I think the Minister and the senior officers of the Army have paid tribute time after time to the wonderful and most valuable contribution those particular officers made to the State in that period of the emergency.
Since the emergency ended, we find that the old practice of commissioning those officers in the Reserve has been departed from, and as I see it their valuable service is lost to the State. I think that the fault lies in the Defence Force Regulations which dealwith age. The same age limit was laid down for the Reserve as that laid down for the Defence Forces. That was shortly after the emergency ended. That age limit was laid down because of a feeling that they had all over the world, that soldiering was a job for the younger fellows, and that when a man reached the age of 45 he was unfit to soldier anywhere. It is a strange thing that this was the conception not only here but in countries like Britain and America. However, the Americans got rid of it very quickly. They got back to the idea of availing of the services of experienced men. They found that under the new methods of warfare where men are carried in vehicles from one point to another, it was not necessary to have the same standard of physical fitness based on youth as they used to have when the normal thing was for a soldier to march from place to place.
While, as I say, Britain and America got away very quickly from that conception — they had held on to it for a little while — we have held on to it, and the result is that those experienced officers in the 40's or the early 50's who are obliged to retire are cut adrift entirely from the Defence Forces. In the event of an emergency tomorrow or in the future, they would have to offer their services as volunteers and be called up perhaps in the rank of private for a start or in whatever rank the Minister might decide to call them up in. Obviously, the calling up of the men in those circumstances would lead to a considerable amount of confusion, whereas if they were commissioned, and were already selected for vital administrative appointments, they could fit into those appointments right away, and the emergency Army could be built around them. We will have, and we must have of necessity in this State, a small permanent force or standing Army as it is called. The efficiency of the Reserve will depend on the machinery that is there when it is called up to see that it fits properly into the Army administrative machine.
I do not want to specify the particular appointments where experience will be valuable, such as quartermasters,camp commandants, provost officers, etc. There is a whole list of them that one could mention, but there is no necessity to do so. What I am anxious to see is that we will not continue the system which we have at the moment of cutting these experienced men adrift from the Defence Forces when they retire from the permanent force. Those men who retire from the permanent force retire with a pension, and if they are to be commissioned in the Reserve, then, obviously, they would receive Reserve pay and it, added to the pension they had, would help them considerably to make ends meet. Therefore, it would be of value to the officers themselves if they were commissiond in the Reserve, but it would be of greater value to the State.
I think that this is an important matter. I think it is right, certainly up to the age of 65 or longer if you like, that any person who is in receipt of a pension for service in the permanent forces of this State should be available and at call in the event of this State being faced with an emergency. If he is not available and at call, then, to a large extent, the value of the services that he could contribute are being lost from the national point of view. Therefore, I think this is an amendment which should be accepted and I ask the House to accept it.