I propose to take Questions Nos. 42, 47, 48 and 71 together.
The establishment of the Permanent Defence Force, as set out in the White Paper for defence, is 9,500 personnel, comprising 7,520 Army personnel, 886 Air Corps personnel and 1,094 Naval Service personnel. The military authorities have advised that at 30 September 2020, the strength of the Permanent Defence Force was 8,529 personnel, comprising 6,878 Army personnel, 752 Air Corps personnel and 899 Naval Service personnel. The Government remains committed to restoring the strength of the Permanent Defence Force as soon as possible. However, this will take time.
The Public Service Pay Commission report undertook a detailed analysis of recruitment and retention difficulties in the Defence Forces. Implementation of the high-level plan, Strengthening Our Defence Forces - Phase One, is a key part of the response to address recruitment and retention issues. The immediate pay increases were delivered, and further pay measures will be considered as part of the next pay negotiations. A range of non-pay measures are also being progressed.
I have acknowledged that there are ongoing difficulties in the Defence Force and these have been well documented. The Naval Service is a case in point and a new seagoing service commitment scheme for Naval Service personnel and an extension of a tax credit for seagoing Naval Service personnel are examples of targeted measures I have introduced aimed at retaining experienced Naval Service personnel. This follows the reintroduction of a successful service commitment scheme for flying officers in the Air Corps. As I have said, other measures will be considered as part of the next pay negotiations.
There have been 449 inductions to date this year, including 316 general service recruits, 67 cadets, 20 Air Corps apprentices, five direct entry specialists, three recommissioned officers and 38 re-enlisted personnel. Covid 19 has impacted on the numbers inducted this year. Other initiatives such as recommissioning of former Air Corps pilots have also assisted in boosting much needed specialists, and I understand that further specialist officers will be recommissioned soon. The re-enlistment of former enlisted personnel is another initiative that is to be welcomed. While the numbers being inducted are lower than initially anticipated, all will play an important role in restoring capacity.
The programme for Government provides that a commission on the Defence Forces will be tasked with examining a range of issues. This will provide an opportunity to chart the future direction for the Defence Forces. There is also a commitment to establish a pay review body for the Defence Forces when the commission has completed its work. Working closely with the Secretary General and the Chief of Staff, and a range of key stakeholders, I am confident that the current challenges facing the Defence Forces can be overcome.
I agree with Deputy Ó Cuív that the important starting point is to know where we are, to be honest about that and to put in place targeted initiatives to respond comprehensively to a Defence Forces that is effectively 1,000 people below where it should be in terms of strength. I am determined to make a positive impact on those numbers during my time as Minister.