Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Defence Forces Structure.

32.

asked the Minister for Defence if there are any proposals to restructure the ranks and appointments of NCO's in the Defence Forces; if not, why; if he is satisfied that the present system meets the requirements of modern military thinking; and how the system compares with those in other European armies.

The organisation and structure of the Defence Forces are kept under constant review and where the restructuring of ranks and appointments is considered necessary appropriate action towards this end is taken.

The general reorganisation of the Defence Forces which was put into operation in September 1979 takes cognisance of the requirements of modern military thinking and the particular needs of our Defence Forces and their roles, training and equipment. The structure of the Defence Forces as a whole and of many corps, and so on in particular have been subjected to intensive review over the past decade resulting in the revision of the ranks of many appointments. The percentage of non-commissioned officer appointments has risen from 28.8 per cent in 1969 to 33.8 per cent in 1980.

The Minister said it had been subjected to intensive review. That is a change from "active" and "under examination". It is now under intensive examination. I do not know what that means. Would the Minister accept that in the Defence Forces there is a critical shortage of engineers, architects, and doctors and the system is still the same? Does the Minister further accept that in the cadetship to which my question referred during their term in university it is not expensive to the Department because cadets lose other allowances to which they would be entitled if they were not at university?

The matter is receiving intensive consideration.

Is that better than a review?