The next government must draw up a six-point plan to reinvigorate the ever-depleting Defence Forces, which are now at their lowest strength for more than 50 years, a former senior army officer has urged.
Both RACO, the association which represents officers, and PDForra, which represents enlisted personnel, say the minimal strength should be 10,500. It is currently at 8,485.
Retired Colonel Dorcha Lee, an ex-Provost Marshal and Director of Military Police, said it's vital a date be set, and kept to, for bringing the Defence Forces up to strength and unless this happens the gap in military capabilities will continue and duty rosters will overburden the dwindling number of remaining personnel.
“Naval Service ships will remain tied up in port, Air Corps aircraft remain grounded and Army units’ operational capabilities will continue to be eroded,” the former senior officer said.
He also says the “disastrous reorganisation” of the Defence Forces in 2012 needed to be reversed.
Then the Army was reduced from three to two brigades.
“Reactivating the third brigade would restore, by a third, the number of specialists lost in 2012. It could possibly lead to reopening of some of the barracks closed during the recession. Military barracks in Mullingar and Longford come to mind,” he said.
Mr Lee claimed the Public Service Pay Commission has discredited itself totally from being an impartial arbiter on Defence Forces' pay and conditions and it's now time to create an independent pay review body for the military, just like the UK’s Armed Forces Pay Review Body.
Another vital step would be to bring the Defence Forces Reserves back to its full strength of 4,069, It's currently under 2,000.
“The proposal to resurrect the third brigade would require the Reserve to recover its strength, as all three brigades are manned by both regulars and reservists,” he said.