I propose to take Questions Nos. 56, 57 and 60 together.
My priority as Minister with Responsibility for Defence is to ensure that the operational capability of the Army, Air Corps and Naval Service is maintained to the greatest extent possible so as to enable the Defence Forces to carry out their roles as assigned by Government as set out on the White Paper on Defence.
The acquisition of new equipment for the Defence Forces remains a clear focus for me. Future equipment priorities for the Army, Air Corps and Naval Service are considered in the context of the White Paper on Defence as part of the capability development and equipment priorities planning process. The principal aim over the period of the White Paper will be to replace and upgrade, as required, existing capabilities in order to retain a flexible response for a wide range of operational requirements, including response to security risks and other emergencies, both at home and overseas. Modern secure communications are essential for operations at home and on overseas missions and in that regard Defence Force personnel are suitably equipped with required communications and global positioning systems equipment.
With regard to training, the primary function of training and education in the Defence Forces is to develop and maintain the necessary capabilities. The Defence Forces deliver military training programmes and modules meeting national, EU and international standards. They also engage 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 retain currency with regards to best international practice and employ all relevant modern training methods.
I am satisfied that the current provisions, together with the courses of action in the White Paper, will continue to ensure that the Defence Forces is suitably equipped and trained, in line with EU and international best practice, to fulfil all roles assigned by Government.