Written Answers. - Defence Forces Review.

Bernard Allen

Question:

242 Mr. Allen asked the Minister for Defence the number of visits and locations visited outside Ireland in relation to the Army Board reviewing the reserve; the size of each of the delegations; if any reservists were included in the delegations; and the discussions, if any, which took place with actual reservists in the countries visited. [28425/98]

The Defence Forces Review Implementation Plan (1996-1998) – which was approved by Government in March, 1996 – provides for a special study of the Reserve Forces to be undertaken during the lifetime of the plan. Accordingly, in November, 1997 I announced the setting up of a joint civilian/military Steering Group to carry out this examination. As part of the examination process the Chief of Staff established a military board to conduct a study of the reserve. The joint civilian/military steering group, as part of its work, oversees and guides the military board in its task.

Two visits outside the State were undertaken in connection with the ongoing study of the reserve. In July, 1998 a delegation of two members of the military board and two military members of the joint civilian/military steering group attended a one-day military briefing in the United Kingdom, which was given by senior military personnel. The delegation also visited reserve units in training where they were afforded full access to the reservists. In September, 1998 the same delegation undertook a five-day visit to Sweden, Finland and Denmark for further briefings. I am advised by the military authorities that in each of these countries the briefings were conducted by senior full-time military personnel and that in Sweden, reservists contributed to the briefing received there. I am also advised that in Denmark, reserve units were visited in training where the delegation was again afforded full access to the reservists. No member of the Reserve Defence Force was included in either of the visits outside the State.