Dáil Éireann - Volume 638 - 04 October, 2007

Written Answers. - Defence Forces Strength.

Deputy Simon Coveney asked the Minister for Defence if he will take a position on shorter tours of duty and optional overseas service, two steps that would likely increase recruitment and retention, especially for females. [22090/07]

Deputy Brian O’Shea asked the Minister for Defence the action he will take to maintain the permanent Defence Force strength of 10,500 fully trained personnel with an additional provision from 2008 onwards for up to 350 troops to be in training at any given time. [21974/07]

Deputy Jan O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Defence the membership of the Defence Forces, broken down by rank, and the number in each case who are female; his plans to encourage the recruitment of a greater number of women; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21990/07]

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Defence his intention to increase the strength of the Army, Navy and Air Corp having particular regard to current and expected overseas deployments; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22116/07]

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Defence the number of women by rank in the Army, Navy and Air Corp; if it has been determined to increase these numbers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22199/07]

Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Defence his proposals to increase the strength of the Army, Navy or Air Corp; the current strength of each; the number remaining here after current and expected deployments; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [22204/07]

  Deputy Willie O’Dea: I propose to take Questions Nos. 17, 21, 28, 40, 108 and 113 together.

The strength of the Permanent Defence Force on 31 August 2007, the latest date for which [1802] detailed figures are available, as advised by the military authorities was 10,382. This comprises 8,497 in the Army, 846 in the Air Corps and 1,039 in the Naval Service. A detailed breakdown of the numbers in the Army, Naval Service and Air Corps by rank and gender are in the form of a Tabular Statement set out below.

The White Paper on Defence of February 2000 set out a figure of 10,500 personnel for the Permanent Defence Force. It is my intention to maintain the established Government policy of ongoing and proactive recruitment to the Defence Forces. Currently, the Permanent Defence Force successfully manages recruit intakes to keep its annualised monthly average strength at or around 10,500.

As indicated in the Deputies’ questions, the Agreed Programme for Government proposes an additional provision for up to 350 troops to be in training, at any given time, from 2008 onwards. The military authorities, and my Department are undertaking the planning necessary to meet this provision.

The White Paper on Defence provides for an allocation of up to 850 Permanent Defence Force personnel to be deployed overseas at any one time through the United Nations Standby Arrangements System (UNSAS). While this may be exceeded for short periods, deployments above this level are not sustainable on an ongoing basis within existing resources. Any commitments to EU or UN missions will be met within this context. The number of Defence Forces personnel remaining in Ireland at any time is therefore not below approximately 9,650.

I am satisfied that the current strength is adequate to meet all needs arising at home and overseas.

The Government is committed to a policy of equal opportunity for men and women throughout the Defence Forces and to the full participation by women in all aspects of Defence Forces activities.

Unlike many other national armed forces, the Defence Forces have no restrictions as regards the assignment of men or women to the full range of operational and administrative duties. All promotions and career courses are open to both genders on merit. Nevertheless, I remain anxious to explore all avenues for increasing the numbers of women joining the Defence Forces.

In 2006, I reduced the minimum height requirement from 5’ 4” to 5’ 2”. This increases the potential recruitment pool of females from 60% to 90% of female population.

Earlier this year, I commissioned a TNS/MRBI study, titled “Retention and Recruitment of Women in The Defence Forces”. This research was commissioned with a view to identifying areas where action can be taken to maximise the number of women applicants to the Defence Forces, hence increasing the number joining. The question of retention was also studied.

[1803] The results of the research were, on balance, positive. Three-quarters of serving females agreed that the Defence Forces are a good place to work. In addition there was a very high level of satisfaction (70%-80%) expressed as regards the issues of job security, pay and benefits and the variety of work on offer.

[1804] The report has been received from the consultants and is currently under consideration within my Department. It is too early at this point to indicate a position on shorter tours of duty, and/or optional overseas service. However, it should be borne in mind that equal opportunity for both genders is a key element of Defence Forces Personnel policy at this point.

STRENGTH OF MALES IN THE DEFENCE FORCES

31 August, 2007

Lt Gen

Maj Gen

Brig Gen

Col

Lt Col

Comdt

Capt

Lt

Total Offrs

SM

BQMs

Cs

CQMs

SGTs

CPLs

Total NCOs

Ptes

Cadets

Total

Army

1

2

8

40

126

306

222

257

962

33

36

132

242

1038

1353

2826

4225

29

8042

Air Corps

0

0

1

2

14

31

50

37

135

7

4

49

12

134

168

374

286

18

813

Naval Service

0

0

1

2

11

47

34

46

141

6

7

75

15

213

175

491

328

9

969

Total

1

2

10

44

151

384

306

340

1,238

46

47

256

269

1,385

1,696

3,691

4,839

56

9,824

Rank titles are for Army ranks — Naval Service and Air Corps equivalent rank titles apply in the Naval Service and Air Corps respectively.

STRENGTH OF FEMALES IN THE DEFENCE FORCES

31 August, 2007

Lt Gen

Maj Gen

Brig Gen

Col

Lt Col

Comdt

Capt

Lt

Total Offrs

SM

BQMs

Cs

CQMs

SGTs

CPLs

Total NCOs

Ptes

Cadets

Total

Army

1

15

47

40

103

3

1

20

104

128

217

7

455

Air Corps

3

2

5

1

1

11

13

14

1

33

Naval Service

10

9

19

7

7

38

6

70

Total

1

15

60

51

127

4

1

21

122

148

269

14

558

Rank titles are for Army ranks — Naval Service and Air Corps equivalent rank titles apply in the Naval Service and Air Corps respectively.

STRENGTH OF THE DEFENCE FORCES

31 August, 2007

Lt Gen

Maj Gen

Brig Gen

Col

Lt Col

Comdt

Capt

Lt

Total Offrs

SM

BQMs

Cs

CQMs

SGTs

CPLs

Total NCOs

Ptes

Cadets

Total

Army

1

2

8

40

127

321

269

297

1065

33

36

127

243

1,058

1,457

2,954

4,442

36

8,497

Air Corps

1

2

14

31

53

39

140

7

4

50

12

135

179

387

300

19

846

Naval Service

1

2

11

47

44

55

160

6

7

75

15

213

182

498

366

15

1,039

Total

1

2

10

44

152

399

366

391

1,365

46

47

252

270

1,406

1,818

3,839

5,108

70

10,382

Rank titles are for Army ranks — Naval Service and Air Corps equivalent rank titles apply in the Naval Service and Air Corps respectively