In recent times, our Defence Forces have been treated with serious neglect bordering on irresponsibility by Irish governments.
This happened previously after the Second World War and, as a result, when Irish soldiers were sent to the Congo in 1960, several soldiers died due to inadequate equipment and training.
While some improvements were achieved, when the conflict in Northern Ireland erupted the Defence Forces transport fleet was so unreliable that it took some units weeks to deploy to border areas.
Now this is all happening again at a time when Brexit could increase security needs, and international terrorism could bring serious security threats due to US military use of Shannon airport.
While good equipment and training are necessary, good moral and conditions for our soldiers are far more important.
While the Defence Forces’ active numbers have been reduced to below 8,800, the Department of Defence has well over 300 civilians not only duplicating many of the responsibilities of serving army officers, but also exercising a stranglehold over most aspects of military management,regardless of their lack of military knowledge.
Ireland does not have an army and should never need an army unless we plan to invade some other territory. What we should have is anadequate Defence Force capable of ensuring the sovereignty of Irish people and Irish territory.
The present strength, equipment, and morale of the Irish Defence Forces falls so far short of this vital requirement that our Government leaders could be accused of treasonous behaviour.
Ireland does not need expensive squadrons of fighter aircraft and battle tanks to defend its sovereignty. We have never had the capacity to defend Ireland by conventional military means and never will have.
The only way Ireland can be defended is by actively planning, training and equipping our Defence Forces for guerilla warfare, which is how we got our independence.
Our neutrality and island geography are vital parts of this defence. This requires a well-resourced volunteer permanentDefence Force, backed up by equally well-resources reserve defence forces and civil defence organisation.
Good moral and working conditions are vital towards achieving this, and these three defence elements can also be tasked to do very many other useful services including UN peacekeeping, as hopefully they will never be required to defend our sovereignty, which was achieved at huge cost.
- Dr Edward Horgan