I propose to take Questions Nos. 687 and 690 together.
The primary function of training and education in the Defence Forces is to develop and maintain the capabilities necessary to enable it to fulfil the roles laid down by Government.
The Defence Forces conducts training and education under four broad categories, namely, leadership, skills, career and collective training. Leadership training is the medium through which the Defence Forces ensures that personnel are prepared for exercising command authority across the full range of military functions both at home and overseas in international operations. Skills training is the medium through which the Defence Forces ensures that its personnel have the requisite individual, specialist, and crew skills. Career training and education provides the organisation with the necessary pool of leaders and commanders at all levels. Collective Training allows military personnel to use their individual, crew, specialist and career training together to develop integrated and coherent combat forces.
The scheduling of training in the Defence Forces, including the Reserve, is underpinned by an analysis of training needed to meet operational output requirements and capability development needs. A long-term strategy is adopted with current planning horizons out to 2021.
The Defence Forces seek to constantly benchmark training across all three arms against best military and academic practice. Military best practice is ensured by implementing a policy of standardisation that is in line with EU and NATO/Partnership for Peace partners. Academic best practice is ensured by benchmarking courses through accreditation under the National Framework of Qualifications which is validated by Quality and Qualifications Ireland. The Defence Forces delivers military programmes and modules meeting national and international standards. The Defence Forces also engages with external educational institutions in order to facilitate organisational learning. This engagement with national and international educational institutions, military and civilian, aims to ensure that the Defence Forces retains currency with regards to best international practice.