The Government has announced details of what is being described as “the single most serious and far reaching re-organisation of the Defence Forces in a generation”.
The changes will see the Curragh Camp losing 46 soldiers, a reduction from 1,417 to 1,371.
The changes will be effective immediately.
The driving force behind the re-organisation is what the Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence Alan Shatter has called “ the significantly reduced resource envelope resulting from the fiscal difficulties of the State”.
There will be no job losses as a result of the re-organisation, but in general terms, there will be greater emphasis on reducing the number of personnel engaged in headquarters, administrative and allied support tasks and re-deploying personnel to front line operational units.
The numbers of people employed by the defence forces is currently 9,500, and this, the Minsiter says, will remain unchanged.
Another major change will be consolidating the current three Army Brigades into two larger ones.
And he makes reference to a report from the Chief of Staff and the Secretary General which states that with the re-organisation, the “Permanent Defence Force can continue to fully meet operational requirements within the revised strength ceiling of 9,500 personnel”.
He added that numbers in various locations throughout the country will not change significantly although “functions will move between locations”. The present and future location of the main functions are set out in the attached maps and supporting material.
It’s a somewhat apprehensive time for Defence Force staff. According to Minister Shatter, a Green Paper will be published later this year which will “address longer term defence policy”.
And a new report called the ‘Value for Money Review of the Reserve Defence Force’, is due to be completed by the end of September.
Chief of Staff of the Defence Forces, Lieutenant General Sean McCann added “this is the single most serious and far reaching re-organisation of the Defence Forces in a generation and I fully recognise that the task of implementing this plan will rest on the shoulders of the men and women of Oglaigh na hEireann.
“Over recent years, the Defence Forces have set an example in terms of public service reform.
“Through careful management of resources, we have continued to deliver the full range of tasks at home and overseas while implementing a reduction in strength from 11,500 to 9,500 and consolidating from 34 barracks into 14 modernised locations.
“The greatest asset of Óglaigh na hÉireann is its people.
“We’ve overcome a myriad of challenges in the history of this organisation I want to take this opportunity to express my gratitude and respect for their continuing duty, honour and loyalty to the state,” he concluded.
- Conor McHugh