Defence Forces exodus continues with 800 predicted to leave this year

Defence Forces exodus continues with 800 predicted to leave this year

The exodus from the Defence Forces continues unabated with 70 personnel bailing out of the Army, Naval Service and Air Corps last month - 16 of whom were recruits in training.

Defence Forces representative associations had predicted that 2019 was likely to be a record year for people leaving Ireland's military and that looks on course to be the case.

The average monthly exodus from the Defence Forces last year was 53.

This year it is predicted that more than 800 Defence Forces will leave.

Seven officers were among the 70 personnel who quit the Defence Forces last month.

The representative associations have said the high number of departures were due to a combination of anger at the paltry increases in allowances recommended by the Public Service Pay Commission (PSPC) and the fact that a large amount of personnel would be eligible for pensions after serving 21 and 31 years.

The Representative Association for Commissioned Officers (RACO) has said it is patently clear that recruitment isn't working and it was worrying to see 16 trainees leaving last month.

RACO deputy general secretary, Colonel Derek Priestly, said the latest figures show that the Defence Forces won't be able to recruit their way out of the current crisis: "This is now a retention issue. We have to start putting serious effort into keeping hold of the experienced and highly skilled people we have because we can't recruit our way out of the situation."

PDForra, which represents enlisted personnel in the Defence Forces, said it is also concerned about the number of personnel who are bailing out before they have even completed training.

PDForra president, Mark Keane, described it as "a very worrying development".

"The policy has always been to recruit our way out of trouble and that's clearly not going to work," he said.

Mr Keane said the recruitment and retention crisis is likely to be a major issue when his representative association holds its annual conference in County Carlow at the end of next month.

Other countries which have encountered similar problems have started to address them by increasing pay and allowances and coming up with novel ideas to attract people to join up.

Soldiers in uniform will soon be able to ride Germany's national rail service Deutsche Bahn (DB) for free, The deal struck between DB, the German armed forces (Bundeswehr), and the government comes as Germany struggles to fill the ranks of its army after conscription was abolished in 2011.

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