Within the context of consolidating the public finances, the Government is focused firmly on maintaining the operational efficiency of the Permanent Defence Force. Government approval was secured in the context of budget 2010 for a level of 10,000 all ranks. This reflects the reductions in personnel recommended in the report of the special group on public service numbers and expenditure programmes. In 2011, the Permanent Defence Force, like all areas of the public service, will operate on a reduced budget. I am advised by the military authorities that the strength of the Permanent Defence Force as of 30 November 2010 was 9,502, comprising 7,704 Army, 769 Air Corps and 1,029 Naval Service personnel.
The official confirmation and details were received on 18 October 2010 from the Department of Finance on the employment control framework (ECF) for the Defence Forces. The ECF is based on a figure of 10,000 all ranks Permanent Defence Force personnel, appropriately configured across the Army, Naval Service and Air Corps to enable them meet the roles assigned by Government.
Officials from the Department together with the military authorities are in the process of reviewing the structures and posts required to meet the operational requirements of the Permanent Defence Force in accordance with the upper limits in ranks provided for in the ECF. Thereafter a detailed proposal will be submitted to me.
Detailed proposals on foot of the review of the structures and posts required to meet the operational requirements of the Permanent Defence Force, within the reduced numbers and reduced resources, will include a phased plan for promotions. This will seek to address the priority posts to be filled in relation to the re-organisation of the Permanent Defence Forces.
The official confirmation of numbers, provided by the ECF and the criteria of the National Recovery Plan 2011-2014 are now being considered by the military authorities and officials of the Department, for the purpose of outlining a structure capable of meeting the roles assigned by Government to the Defence Forces.
Overall numbers in the Permanent Defence Force, including numbers serving at various ranks will be subject to ongoing control and monitoring by the Department of Finance on a monthly basis. This is to ensure compliance within the overall parameters and controls set by Government for each sector. The ECF also sets out that it will be necessary to underpin the re-organisation with the required amendments to regulations and administrative instructions.
While these are challenging times, my priority is to ensure that the Defence Forces are organised, equipped and staffed in a manner which will ensure that they can continue to deliver the services required of them by Government.
I am advised that at this time the Defence Forces retain the capacity to undertake the tasks laid down by Government at home and overseas.