Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Questions (602)

Noel Grealish


616 Deputy Noel Grealish asked the Minister for Defence if he will give a firm commitment that he will not amalgamate the Army Western Brigade and the Army Southern Brigade; if he will give a firm commitment that he will make no change to the 1st Brigade of the Irish Battalion (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [34523/12]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Defence)

Arising from the Comprehensive Review of Expenditure, the Government stabilised the strength ceiling of the Permanent Defence Force at 9,500 personnel. In response, I initiated a major re-organisation of the Defence Forces both permanent and reserve. It is not viable to retain a three brigade structure within a strength ceiling of 9,500 personnel. Accordingly, the re-organisation encompasses a reduction in the number of Army Brigades from the current three to two. The re-organisation builds upon and complements the efficiencies arising from recent barrack closures. Although the organisational structures are being revised there is no requirement for further barrack closures as part of this process. There will, of course, be movement of functions and personnel within and between barracks, as provided for in the Croke Park Agreement.

The purpose of the re-organisation is to ensure that the operational effectiveness of the Permanent Defence Force is prioritised within available resources. This will be achieved through consolidating under-strength Units, rationalising headquarters, administrative and support functions and re-balancing force elements in favour of "front-line" operational Units.

I tasked the Chief of Staff and the Secretary General of the Department of Defence to bring forward detailed proposals relating to the new organisational structures for my consideration. I will not be commenting on any speculation regarding the re-organisation in advance of my announcing the full details.