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  1. #1
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    Defence Forces Strength

    Defence Forces strength reduced ‘as far as it can go’

    Weaponry and equipment should not be funded by savings from staff reductions - Raco

    The strength of the Defence Forces has been reduced as far as it can go, the Representative Association for Commissioned Officers (Raco) has said.

    The organisation, which represents the vast majority of Defence Forces officers, said the Government and senior military leadership cannot expect badly needed weaponry and equipment to be funded by savings from further personnel reductions.

    A recent incident in Syria where 36 Irish troops serving with the United Nations were shot at and their armoured vehicles hit by sustained gun fire and a landmine underlined the need for the best equipment possible, the group said.

    Raco general secretary Col Brian O’Keeffe said, even as the economy boomed in the past, numbers in the Defence Forces had been cut by thousands, and after recent further reductions were now just below 9,500 from a high of almost 14,000 in the early 1990s and 10,500 as recently as 2009.

    In total, numbers had been reduced by 28 per cent, 16 military installations including some of the biggest barracks in the State have been closed in recent years and the Defence Forces had been reorganised from three Brigades to two.

    Investment in equipment, such as new aircraft and the MOWAG armoured personnel carriers being used in Syria and Lebanon at present, has been made using savings and the proceeds of barracks sale.

    “This of course is not sustainable in the long term,” Col O’Keeffe told delegates at Raco’s biennial conference in Macreddin, Co Wicklow. “The organisation cannot be expected to continue to cannibalise itself to fund equipment or to fill gaps elsewhere in the Defence estimates.”

    He added that future funding models for vital investment needed to be addressed in the forthcoming White Paper on the future of defence in the Republic.

    Col O’Keeffe also said while opening up that White Paper process to submissions from interested parties was to be welcomed, it was vital the process remained focused on charting the direction for defence in the years ahead.

    The process must not be hijacked by “orchestrated lobbying campaigns by special interest groups or get bogged down in unnecessary discussions and argument on emotive issues such as neutrality”.

    Raco said it remained very concerned at the continued hardship imposed on some of its members by the recent reorganisation of the forces from three brigades to two.

    The organisation’s president, Capt Ian Harrington, said some officers who had been based in the now closed Brigade headquarters in Athlone had based their families in places like Galway and Donegal.

    While these commutes were manageable when working in Athlone, their new situation of being based in Dublin had imposed an intolerable situation on them.

    Not only were they facing very significant commuting hours, but the cost of fuel and related expenses was proving so high that some officers were close to applying for, and qualifying for, family income supplement social welfare payments.

    “Geographically, if you and your family live west of the Shannon and north of a line from Galway to Longford, you will spend almost 50 per cent of your career commuting long distances to work,” Capt Harrington said.

    “Additionally, no serving officers in the early stage of their careers can consider settling down in these areas. This will not be good or the Defence Forces.”

    Defence Forces Chief of Staff Lieut Gen Conor O’Boyle said he and his senior management had already worked hard to reduce from 800 to 100 the number of personnel classified has having been “seriously discommoded” by the re-organisation.

    He said postings to barracks closer to home would reduce that number for a further group of officers. However, some personnel who now found themselves living very long distances from the nearest barracks could not be accommodated as easily and needed to consider that.
    http://www.irishtimes.com/news/irela...n-go-1.1616848

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    Raco general secretary Col Brian O’Keeffe said, even as the economy boomed in the past, numbers in the Defence Forces had been cut by thousands, and after recent further reductions were now just below 9,500 from a high of almost 14,000 in the early 1990s and 10,500 as recently as 2009.
    Did RACO miss a meeting? Did someone not tell them we have a Single Force Concept now?

    Defence Forces strength is 13,569 last I checked.

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    Which by co-incidence is very similar to:

    Welcome to NZDF
    The New Zealand Defence Force has a total of 13,807 people. This includes 8,591 Regular Force, 2,326 Reserve Force, and 2,890 civil staff members across the armed services of Navy, Army and Air Force.

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    Depends I suppose on how active your reservists are. Can they be integrated into the operational output or are they simply making up the numbers and I don't mean this in any disparaging way as the Reserve could contribute so much more.

    Force numbers have been on a downward spiral for over a decade now and even the 9,500 figure cannot be achieved. Despite all the protestations, the DoD have doggedly pursued their downsizing agenda with a one brigade force now very much on the horizon. The representative associations faithfully went along with the continuous restructuring/reorganisation process over the years assuaged by promises of a better days ahead but they've been sold a lie.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TangoSierra View Post
    Which by co-incidence is very similar to:

    Welcome to NZDF
    The New Zealand Defence Force has a total of 13,807 people. This includes 8,591 Regular Force, 2,326 Reserve Force, and 2,890 civil staff members across the armed services of Navy, Army and Air Force.
    Nail, head on.... watch this space....

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    Some times I think RACO get between the DF as a whole as opposed to the 'Army' and forget to include the NS and the AC. RACO will never concede that the RDF figure should be included in the strength they discuss.
    Time for another break I think......

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    It's interesting reading on the nzdf website in regards their civilian employment. Even their Provost Marshal job is up for grabs by a LE "civi"

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    I'd expect to see RACO including the RDF strengh about the same time that the GRA and ASGI start including the garda reserve as part of their strenght, which will be when hell freezes over.

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    The issues with some representative organizations is that they are entirely self serving, in reality the enlisted ranks suffered more in death by numbers in all the "Force" reductions; We joke about jobs for the boys, if the DF had sense they would counter RACO's pittyfull excuse to start some form of recruitment drive by utilizing the resources they have in the first place i.e the Reserve.
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    Seriously guys are we having a discussion on "Representative Association represents it's own members shocker " ..... What do you expect RACO to call for at their conference, more recruitment for the RDF and promotion for enlisted personnel.....??? As for rep assocs being self serving ....isn't that why they exist , to serve their members interests. Those old enough round here will remember why we have rep associations is because members of the PDF ( all ranks) were not represented by the gen staff, our leaders not doing their jobs..... Hence representation created.

    As for recruitment , the DF can only recruit to the max figure of 9,500 PDF, why target reservists to reduce a readily available resource to boost the PDF and besides 10,000 odd applicants for the 600 places a year or two ago..... Surely it's about getting the best recruits not people who have been members of the reserve already , not against a bonus mark at interview or test but not direct recruitment from the RDF.

    And finally Murph , talk to an Army Officer about RACO not representing the AC or NS officer, the reality is that the AC and NS officers have done very nicely thank you from RACO, tech pay for all NS Officers and flying pay for the AC amongst other wins ( and fair play to the gentlemen/ladies getting them) .....the story of the rep assocs across the DF is that we tend to think the minority groups won't be represented fairly but in reality they do better then the numerically larger groups to avoid splits and rows. Think about it ...... Do the maths, the average infantry soldier of any rank is the worst paid..... And with the worst conditions ....proper order too !!!

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    Three different Representative Organisations, in a DF that lists Loyalty and Selflessness as two of it's values.

    Says it all.

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  15. #12
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    As of the 31st March, the Defence Forces strength has fallen below the 9,000 mark with just 8993 troops, including Recruits, 2 Stars, Cadets and Apprentices.

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    Disgraceful, but unsurprising. The excuses given, if asked, will be there is a magical recruitment drive currently ongoing, which will miraculously bring the strength above crisis level.
    The elephant in the room though of course is how do you stop the constant drain? What is the DF/DoD doing to stop the constant exodus? Will the magic number be set at 8500? 8000? 5000?
    German 1: Private Schnutz, I have bad news for you.
    German 2: Private? I am a general!
    German 1: That is the bad news.

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    The issue of retention is very well identified by all levels right up to COS level. The DF cannot control pay so there are only so many initiatives that can be used to incentivise people to stay. It is very much acknowledged that the DF cannot recruit itself out of this problem. In 2017 we recruited 751 and lost 700. We put MASSIVE efforts into recruiting and training that 751 and gained a mere 50 people, all ranks.

    Real and vigourous efforts are being pursued to address the matter of pay for the poorest pay.

    J1, SPB, PDFORRA, RACO, COS etc are all banging the same drum. The reason why it is getting so much publicity is because it is being pushed into the public so aggressively to get as much attention and support.

    However, I believe this media blitz is having a detrimental effect on recruitment which is really struggling to get the numbers of applicants needed. You need the best part of 10 applicants to get 1 recruit through the door and progressed to 3 star level. Then the real problems start: getting them on courses to upskill & retain, getting them overseas, getting them operational experience at home, keeping them interested.

    To say that no one cares about retention is lies. Everyone knows that the only way out of the HR crisis is to retain the valued and experienced soldiers we have invested years into nurturing and developing as soldiers, sailors, aircrew, cooks, snipers, winchmen, ERAs, drivers, medics, COMMOPs etc etc

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  21. #15
    Commander in Chief hptmurphy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by na grohmití View Post
    Disgraceful, but unsurprising. The excuses given, if asked, will be there is a magical recruitment drive currently ongoing, which will miraculously bring the strength above crisis level.
    The elephant in the room though of course is how do you stop the constant drain? What is the DF/DoD doing to stop the constant exodus? Will the magic number be set at 8500? 8000? 5000?
    Apart from the obvious pay difficulties I think the duration of initial contracts should be revisited and revised down wards to the original 3 for army and 4 for NS. Now how do I justify the logic.....people on low pay are feeling trapped after the initial training is over and looking at another 4 and a half years in a very low paying job are to a degree not seeing light at the end of the tunnel anytime soon and opting for discharge by purchase rather than going the distance.

    If the goal posts were narrower they might go the distance and thing s might have improved by the time they get there. When you are been screwed around with extended stays on ships, end of contract may seem a long way off especially if its five years away.

    I would be interested to see the percentage of discharge by purchase within the first two years of contract.
    Time for another break I think......

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  23. #16
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    Not all the blame lands at DoD.

    I know of four technical/pilot officers who were committed lifers but just wanted to take a short <3 year broadening assignment/physical location move due to personal circumstances but ignorant "old school" mentality at LtCol and GOC level just saw numbers on a spreadsheet and said no.

    People are THE most important part of the DF. Something unfortunately a significant amout of mid/high ranking officers seem to forget

    J1 might be "banging the drum" but they are still giving less than 4 weeks notice to troops overseas of moving them to a post at the opposite end of the country.
    Last edited by TangoSierra; 3rd May 2018 at 23:02.

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    Quote Originally Posted by hptmurphy View Post
    Apart from the obvious pay difficulties I think the duration of initial contracts should be revisited and revised down wards to the original 3 for army and 4 for NS. Now how do I justify the logic.....people on low pay are feeling trapped after the initial training is over and looking at another 4 and a half years in a very low paying job are to a degree not seeing light at the end of the tunnel anytime soon and opting for discharge by purchase rather than going the distance.

    If the goal posts were narrower they might go the distance and thing s might have improved by the time they get there. When you are been screwed around with extended stays on ships, end of contract may seem a long way off especially if its five years away.

    I would be interested to see the percentage of discharge by purchase within the first two years of contract.
    Period of enlistment is 12 years not 5 years. Even after 5 years it will cost you to leave

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    Of course hearing that morale is bad isn’t going to aid morale either (but acknowledging it is absolutely necessary)

    Pay is one issue but far from the only one

    Look at administrative (maladminstration) the whole thing is set up inefficiently and dependant on people being around to physically hand documents to and phone to follow up to make sure that it was filed. Not doing so means you don’t get what you need/want.

    People are getting burnt out and fed up. No one can blame them.

    Unfortunately, pay isn’t something COS can address, he can highlight but that’s about it. Finally personnel issues are impacting ops (eg Baldonnel ATC), I never thought I’d see the day where the DF said no to something and took don’t capability and they were absolutely right to do so.

    But a very small group could easily, cheaply and quickly reduce the admin of the DF and make it more efficient and easier. Would it solve the problems..... no definitely not.... but it would make people lives easier

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    Quote Originally Posted by DeV View Post
    Of course hearing that morale is bad isn’t going to aid morale either (but acknowledging it is absolutely necessary)

    Pay is one issue but far from the only one

    Look at administrative (maladminstration) the whole thing is set up inefficiently and dependant on people being around to physically hand documents to and phone to follow up to make sure that it was filed. Not doing so means you don’t get what you need/want.

    People are getting burnt out and fed up. No one can blame them.

    Unfortunately, pay isn’t something COS can address, he can highlight but that’s about it. Finally personnel issues are impacting ops (eg Baldonnel ATC), I never thought I’d see the day where the DF said no to something and took don’t capability and they were absolutely right to do so.

    But a very small group could easily, cheaply and quickly reduce the admin of the DF and make it more efficient and easier. Would it solve the problems..... no definitely not.... but it would make people lives easier
    Well said ..... but please clear out your mail box

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    Quote Originally Posted by Orion View Post
    Well said ..... but please clear out your mail box
    done

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fantasia View Post
    Period of enlistment is 12 years not 5 years. Even after 5 years it will cost you to leave
    For those enlisted for General Service, you can initially serve for a period of five (5) years. For those enlisted under the Cadetship and Apprentice schemes, you can serve for twelve years (12). These periods of service are dependent on you passing your initial training course, maintain your medical grading and service efficiency.
    From the FAQs on the DF website....
    Time for another break I think......

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    Do the 5 year contracts still sign up for 7 years on FLR?

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    Quote Originally Posted by hptmurphy View Post
    From the FAQs on the DF website....
    Not sure what the FAQs say. DFR A10 provides for enlistment for a period of 12 years made up of 5 years permanent and 7 years reserve. This can be extended (EOS) to 9 years permanent and 3 years reserve and further extended (another EOS) to 12 years. After which a person can re-engage to complete 21 years service.

    If a person chooses not to apply for EOS, they will not be discharged, they will be transferred to the first ljne reserve (TRDF). They can choose to buy themselves off the FLR for €12.70 (open to correction on that figure) quite easily. If they choose not to buy themselves off the FLR, they will remain on that until their service takes them up to 12 years service from date of enlistment. At 9 years the same thing happens.

    At 12 years, they are free to walk for nothing.

    If someone that is a line soldier (or sailor or airmcrew) wants to discharge by purchase at any time it will cost them €300. They are eligible for a reduction of 1/20 per year of service once they have completed 50% of their engagement ( 1/2 of 12 years), so after say 7 years the owe 13/20 x €300 = €195 etc.

    I dont have A10 in front of me so cannot provide references but have most of them in my head if you want to pm me.

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  34. #24
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    0-5: Initial contract
    5-9: Re-engagement
    9-12: Re-engagement
    12-21: Extension of service
    21+: Continuance in service in 2 year blocks up to retirement age.

    Those are the periods of time listed on our own A10 for manning control points, and the criteria associated at each point to "re-up". YES.Reserve service is included in our T&C's but we are being really pedantic if we are including that in our idea of how much time we serve.If a bloke does 5 years he will not turn around and say he did 12.

    As for Morale.Two words.

    It's Shit.

    No amount of "Town Halls" or "Climate Surveys" will change that if the words are falling on deaf ears.
    Actions speak louder than words.If a few senior Officers threatened to Resign(RIP Lt Gen Stapleton) I wonder would that grab the Minister's(Sorry. I mean Junior Minister as we don't seem to rate a full one) attention? Recruitment is a joke at this juncture. No point filling a bucket when there is a hole in the bottom.
    Infantry Corps - An Lámh Comhrac


    "Let us be clear about three facts:First of all.All battles and all wars are won in the end by the Infantryman.Secondly the Infantryman bears the brunt of the fighting,his casualties are heavier and he suffers greater extremes of fatigue and discomfort than the other arms.Thirdly,the art of the Infantryman is less stereotyped and harder to acquire than that of any other arm".
    -- Field Marshall Earl Wavell.1948

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  36. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by apod View Post
    0-5: Initial contract
    5-9: Re-engagement
    9-12: Re-engagement
    12-21: Extension of service
    21+: Continuance in service in 2 year blocks up to retirement age.
    .
    5-9 is Extension of Service
    9-12 is Extension of Service
    12-21 is Re-engage to complete 21 years.

    It is not being pedantic. Every person that enlists for general service does so for 12 years made up as I previously mentioned. Not 5 years!

    People that enlist for purposes other tban general service have the same period of engagement but made up differently 0-4, 4-9 and 9-12 is used for TTS
    Last edited by Fantasia; 4th May 2018 at 18:30.

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