The Government recognises the importance of the Reserve Defence Force (RDF) in contributing to Ireland's defence capability. The 2015 White Paper on Defence is clear that there is a continued requirement to retain and develop the RDF.
The White Paper acknowledges that there may be professional skills that on occasion may not be readily available in the Permanent Defence Force (PDF) and outlines an intention to harness specialist skills that members of the Reserve may have to better support the PDF.
A Skills Survey of the RDF has been undertaken by the Defence Forces which provides an overview of the range of skills available within the Reserve. The Skills Survey was conducted from February to April 2015 and throughout October 2016. The target population was all active members of the RDF who reported for training during the two survey periods, both Army Reserve and Naval Service Reserve. A total of 874 responses were received, 700 in 2015 and a further 174 in 2016, which correlated to 67% of the target population.
A Workforce Planning project is underway which will identify skills gaps in the PDF and identify appropriate measures to address any such gaps. The skills survey undertaken of the RDF will assist in identifying possible options to address gaps. Options to underpin the engagement of RDF members will be identified as the various stages of this work unfold.
The work of the Independent Commission on the Defence Forces, established in line with the Programme for Government 2020, encompasses the role and contribution of the RDF, including its legislation; the regulations governing the RDF, the development of the First Line Reserve (FLR) and whether specialists from the RDF should be able to serve overseas.