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  1. #26
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    WhingeNot - your musings make for interesting reading and I do hope you submitted them for condideration during the WP process. Whether they'll be considered or even read is another matter entirely. Most commentators with a modicum of interest in our DF await the publication of the new WP with a sense of hopeful anticipation that it will provide a pathway or framework for the use and development of our forces for the next decade or so.
    Four years delay aside I don't have much confidence that we'll see the sort of lofty strategic document, most likely now quietly published Christmas week or so, that we all hope for. Essentially because those writing the document i.e. DOD policy branch don't have the necessary knowledge or strategic vision to complete the process. Give it to the SPO to complete a draft and then you'd see an altogether different document.

    The capabilities of our forces have been progressively and systematically eroded by a drive to reduce numbers. We now see ourselves with three major obstacles to clear before any real recovery can take place; 1. The lowest Defence spend per GDP in The EU. 2. The chronic low pay of a lot of our soldiers 3. The continuing increase in pension provision for mass retirements that must be paid for out of the Defence Vote

    Address these first and then get people who know what they're talking about to write a White Paper.
    Last edited by Pure Hover; 15th November 2014 at 09:19.

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  3. #27
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    Let's talk purely about the conventional threats

    What level threat do we face?
    Realistically extremely low
    Realistically the only threats we face are countries in Europe (most of whom are stable countries within the EU), Russia (or Eastern bloc) and the USA due to our geographic location.
    The threat from and of these would more than likely be based on a serious change in relations between these external actors.

    Taking Ireland to take Ireland (ie take every inch) is extremely unlikely, we would have a have seriously pissed off another nation.
    The only conceivable threat would be:
    air and/sea landing
    Up to brigade strength (or brigades at multiple locations)
    Primarily infantry based force
    Depending on the force they could may have IFVs, APCs or be light infantry
    Depending on the force they could have light (105) or heavy (155) arty in regimental strength
    Depending on the force they could have MBTs in squadron strength
    They are likely to have some support helicopters and possibly attack helicopters
    They are likely to have naval (possibly amphibious) and air support

    However, they are likely to be in or be soon to be in a major war (probably involving nuclear powers), so the vast bulk of their forces (especially their best and most capable) are likely to be already committed or be otherwise unavailable (including assets mentioned above)

    Potental targets?:
    Major airports (most likely Shannon)
    Major ports (most likely Cork, possibly Shannon Estuary)
    Possibly major natural resources (eg Corrib, Kinsale, Whitegate, Whiddy Island)

    So we should potentially equip ourselves to meet the threat.

    However, we thing of a USA-v-Russia scenario (with Shannon being taken by the Russians) we could expect help from the USA as it would be a strategic threat to them.

  4. #28
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    DAIL COMMITTEE REPORT

    Wednesday, 12 November 2014

    Joint Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality Debate


    The Joint Committee met at 14:30
    MEMBERS PRESENT:
    Deputy Niall Collins, Senator Martin Conway.
    Deputy Alan Farrell,
    Deputy Finian McGrath,
    Deputy John Paul Phelan,

    In attendance: Deputies Seán Ó Fearghaíl and Kieran O'Donnell, and Senators Gerard P. Craughwell and Hildegarde Naughton.
    DEPUTY DAVID STANTON IN THE CHAIR.

    The joint committee met in private session until 2.56 p.m.

    Reserve Defence Force Reorganisation: RDFRA

    Chairman: Apologies have been received from Deputy Anne Ferris and Senators Ivana Bacik and Tony Mulcahy. The purpose of the meeting is to engage with members of the Reserve Defence Force Representative Association. A briefing has been circulated to members. I welcome Mr. Patrick Mulley, Mr. Neil Richardson, Mr. Martin Cooney, Mr. Eoin Colgan, Mr. James Scanlon and Mr. Rob Gilbey to the meeting. The format is that I will invite them to make some brief opening remarks to highlight the key points, which will be followed by a question and answer session with members.

    I draw attention of all witnesses to the situation in relation to privilege. By virtue of section 17(2)(l) of the Defamation Act 2009, witnesses are protected by absolute privilege in respect of their evidence to the committee. If they are directed by the Chairman to cease giving evidence on a particular matter and continue to do so, they will be entitled thereafter only to qualified privilege in respect of their evidence. They are directed that only evidence connected with the subject matter of these proceedings is to be given and asked to respect the parliamentary practice to the effect that, where possible, they should not criticise or make charges against any person or an entity by name or in such a way as to make him, her or it identifiable.

    Members are reminded of the long-standing parliamentary practice to the effect that they should not comment on, criticise or make charges against a person or persons outside the Houses or an official, either by name or in such a way as to make him or her identifiable.

    I invite Mr. Mulley to lead off the presentation.

    Mr. Patrick Mulley: I thank the Chairman and members for inviting us again to address them. We appeared before the joint committee on 24 April 2013. We were bedding in the process of the reorganisation of the Reserve Defence Forces on foot of the value for money report which had been completed in November 2012.
    Without further ado I will hand over to Mr. Martin Cooney.

    Mr. Martin Cooney: When we addressed the committee in 2013, we were still in the middle of a reorganisation of the Reserve Defence Force following on from the value for money review. We touched on a number of items in our submission. We gave a high level overview of our issues with the value for money review. We indicated the value that the Reserve Defence Force brings to the State, the civilian skills that the Reserve Defence Force has at its disposal and we indicated we would seek an independent review of the Reserve Defence Force. We also expressed a view that there was a very real risk that, because of the value for money review and reorganisation of the Reserve Defence Force, the force would cease to exist by 2016.

    The value for money review recommended that a further formal review of the Reserve Defence Force be conducted after a period of four years with a view to examining the utility and capacity levels and the progress of the reserve. We are now at the half way mark and we think it opportune to provide our views on what has transpired. We will do this under four main pillars: first, the introduction of key performance indicators; second, the structural conflict between the Permanent Defence Force and the Reserve Defence Force; third, recruitment; and fourth, the package of support required for the Reserve Defence Force.

    These areas can be explored in depth with my colleagues during the question and answer session. I ask for the indulgence of members as I can give them the view of the Army Reserve but not of the Naval Service reserve. I will invite my colleague Mr Colgan to make some points in that regard when I finish.

    While we have always objected to the premise for the latest reorganisation, we do have to commend the Defence Force on how it has approached its task.
    As always, it has demonstrated that leadership in change management, so much so that the administrative order that was to change the Reserve Defence Force was issued the same month as the value for money review was published. That was a very quick timeframe. It was not formalised until 2013, but this is the document that governed the restructuring in the Reserve Defence Force and what was to happen thereafter. A core tenet of this administrative order is what is known as “the single Force concept”. This entailed the disestablishment of Army Reserve and Naval Service Reserve units and the insertion of Reserve elements into permanent units. The theory behind that is that a single chain of command would allow greater scope for collective training and operational effectivenes.

    The administrative instruction also sets out how the new Reserve Defence Force is to operate and identifies a number of key performance indicators against which Reserve Defence personnel will be evaluated. These are used to assess the individual effectiveness of members of the Reserve Defence Force. They consist of a number of criteria, which include paid and unpaid training, a medical test, a fitness test and an annual personal weapons test. The concept of objective measurement criteria is welcomed within the Reserve. It is not something to which we are adverse. It should serve as a true measure of the output of the organisation and it also serves as a motivational aspect that can individual reservists seek to achieve and obtain. However, any such criteria must be realistic and achievable, and adequate resources must be given to personnel in order to achieve them. Unfortunately, this has not been the case and there is a number issues with the key performance criteria that have been imposed on the Reserve Defence Force. These issues relate both to the criteria themselves and to the method in which they have been implemented.

    I will not go into the merits of the key performance indicators, but I would like to explore some of the issues that we have encountered when we have tried to achieve them. At the outset, the Reserve Defence Force has been imposed upon permanent units, so immediately there is a mismatch between the working hours of each element. Whilst the terms of service of the Permanent Defence Force are 24-7, in reality the usual working hours outside of operational duties or training are Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 4.30 p.m. For the Reserve, on the other hand, the majority of the training is conducted in the evenings or at weekends in order to accommodate our civilian employment and our other obligations. This presents an immediate problem when it comes to the administration of the key performance indicators. For example, if I have to undergo a medical test it will be conducted by the Medical Corps, which operates during normal working hours.

    The test consists of two parts, with each part conducted on two different days. My fitness test consists of three parts, with the first two parts conducted on one day and the third part on another. Another two days are now gone. Additionally, if the permanent unit conducts its annual range practice, where I am tested on my weapon, on a weekday, I have now potentially used up five days of annual leave to satisfy administrative requirements. That is essentially a reservist using up 25% of his or her statutory annual leave entitlement on administrative matters. That is without taking into account the fact that we may be called up for full-time training. If I do one period of full-time training, I have now used up 50% of my annual leave, and if I try to do a career course, which is generally structured over two weeks, I will have used up 75% of my statutory leave entitlement. It is a ridiculous situation; reservists cannot be expected to meet this. We cannot be expected to use up our annual leave on administrative tasks. It is an unreasonable expectation, particularly where there is no legislation to protect reservists in their civilian employment. In addition, we are being asked to meet these criteria without the same support that our permanent colleagues have. We are not entitled to the same medical care or benefits and we do not have the access to facilities that they have. It is specifically set out in the administrative instruction that reservists will not be afforded the facilities or time to train for these key performance indicators during full-time training. All responsibility lies with the reservists, in their own time, and that is something that cannot be said for their permanent colleagues.

    ............

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  6. #29
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    DAIL COMMITTEE REPORT

    Wednesday, 12 November 2014

    Joint Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality Debate


    ...........

    When the next review is conducted, the cold figures will indicate that a certain percentage of reservists have not met their key performance indicators. No investigation will be conducted into what actually occurred, or into the organisational and administrative obstacles that were put in reservists' way. Nor will anything be said in regard to the personal time and sacrifice that was required to meet these criteria. Instead, the criteria will be used to denigrate reservists and will completely ignore the fact that the process has been implemented in a way that was completely unworkable.

    What is particularly striking is that are no similar key performance indicators for our permanent colleagues. The Reserve Defence Force is a training output of the Permanent Defence Force. Our standards should reflect on the input of the Permanent Defence Force. When assessing the output of any service, surely it would make sense to assess the service provider. Yet again the regime is set up to scrutinise the reservists and we must stand up and be counted. There is no similar situation for our permanent colleagues, who will say they have training standards to meet each year which include accounting for the Reserve. This is a circular argument because they will use the key performance indicators of the Reserve to see whether or not they have made their training output. Our fear is that, as happened in the last Value for Money report, questions will not be asked as to what our permanent colleagues did or did not do in respect of the Reserve. Instead, there will be a focus on the Reserve failing to meet its objectives. When we fail, as is already pre-determined, the true problems will conveniently be ignored. Reservists face eventual discharge for failing to meet their key performance indicators but the same cannot be said of our permanent colleagues if they fail in their obligations to the Reserve.

    I would like to speak about the structural conflict between the Permanent Defence Force and the Reserve Defence Force. Aside from the issues with key performance indicators, we have to contend with the difficulties of dealing with a full-time professional Force as part-time professionals. There is no doubt in our minds that there is commitment to the Reserve Defence Force at the very highest levels in the Defence Forces. The General Staff has indicated that it is committed to making this work. The addition of Reserve elements to permanent units represents an additional workload on top of the existing workload, with no incentive or reward in return. We noted when we were last before this committee that the loss of the cadre staff was significant in terms of the loss of experience and knowledge. It appeared to us that the reorganisation was being pushed through in a very tight timeframe without adequate consideration of the inherent differences between both organisations. Many of our concerns have proven justified.

    The reorganisation was supposed to be implemented by 30 March 2013, yet in 2014 we were still dealing with issues arising from it. As the reorganisation progressed, it was very evident that there were significant issues in the records and administration of the Reserve Defence Forces and this impeded the smooth transition of the Reserve into the permanent Defence Forces. On top of this, many of the cadre staff retired and, with them, their knowledge and experience was lost. Permanent units were left to grapple with an administration system with which they were not familiar and on which they were not trained. As a result, reservists have suffered delays in pay, restrictions on training and denial of entitlements. Greater demands are being placed on reservists in respect of training during normal working hours so that they can train with their permanent colleagues. By no means is this a criticism of the permanent Defence Force. It would be unrealistic to expect someone to work all week and then come in again in the evenings or at weekends for no extra incentive or reward. The irony is that this is exactly what reservists are expected to do. We have gone to a situation where our rewards and incentives have been taken away and the incentive is more “stick” than “carrot” at this point.

    Compounding this is the problem that the complete military legislative and administrative structure to govern the reorganised Reserve has not been put in place. It is astounding that 20 months into the reorganisation, we are still working under old administrative systems which do not take account of the reorganisation or the increased standards and commitment required of the Reserve. There is an inconsistency between the old regulations and the newly introduced key performance indicators and this has led to confusion as to what governs reservists and what happens if reservists do not meet their key performance indicators.

    As a result of the knowledge deficit the permanent units have been forced to do the best they can under the circumstances. Unfortunately, this has resulted in a lack of uniformity of decisions, with unit commanders taking varying approaches to clothing, equipment, training, recording of training hours, development of courses and limits on paid training. Depending on their unit, some reservists have been able to engage in training that was beyond their wildest dreams and others have suffered through what we would term "malicious obedience" on the part of middle management, whereby the focus is on attaining key performance indicators, with no advancement of reservists' military skills or training.

    On the issue of recruitment, the administrative instruction for the organisation identifies that a priority for it will be whether it can maintain the level of quality recruitment necessary to staff the Reserve Defence Force for the next 3–5 years. The establishment of the Reserve Defence Force went from 9,500 to 4,069. By January 2014 we were already 1,200 under strength. The current strength is 1,734. In order to meet our establishment by 2016, we must recruit 2,335 reservists. This represents a figure of over 1,000 recruits a year, which would prove a difficult task for full-time personnel and absolutely out of reach for part-time professionals. Simply put, the resources are not there to train that number of people in this time period. The Reserve Defence Force will not be able to meet this and the shortcomings in its previous administration by its permanent staff meant that the numbers on the books never reflected the numbers in reality.

    On a positive note, a recruitment campaign ran from March to April 2014. This was a very professional campaign and was run through a combination of national and regional press media, social media and national careers portal. It was the first time that a campaign for the Reserve Defence Forces was run in a centralised manner. The media campaign was very positive and progressive and it represented an innovative approach to the use of many and varied forms of social media and serves only to underscore the professionalism expected in the Reserve Defence Force today. The "single force" concept was reinforced by the fact that there was no difference between the campaign for reservists and the Permanent Defence Force and there was no sense of disparity in the value that either arm of the Defence Forces provides to the State. Objective bystanders would have obtained an impression of a young, professional combined force with plenty of opportunities for the young, willing and able.

    Nevertheless, there were some disadvantages to the approach. Advertising for both the Permanent Defence Force and the Reserve Defence Force on the same platform caused confusion. This was compounded by the fact that applicants were directed to the Defence Forces’ website where the application process was conducted under the "careers" section. The Army Reserve and the Naval Service Reserve have their own dedicated sections of this website and it would have been logical for applications for either element to go through that. However, it went through the careers section, which caused confusion for people who are less knowledgeable about the Defence Forces. In addition, service in the Reserve is not technically a career. This added to the confusion. From our research, we know that certain applicants erroneously applied for the Reserve when they had intended to apply for the Permanent Defence Force.

    Successful applicants then progressed to the assessment stage of the campaign. The assessments consisted of a fitness test, interview and medical exam. Again, this is a positive development for the Reserve Defence Force as it demonstrates a professional approach to the recruitment and selection of appropriate candidates for the Reserve. This assessment process is usually the first time these candidates meet face-to-face and the process reinforces the fact that candidates are joining a modern and well-equipped Defence Force. However, issues arose at this stage whereby candidates for the Reserve Defence Force were treated in a similar manner to candidates for the Permanent Defence Force. Some were given short notice of medical tests and interviews. Interviews were conducted during the working week which meant that those in employment had to take leave from work to attend.

    ..........

  7. #30
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    DAIL COMMITTEE REPORT

    Wednesday, 12 November 2014

    Joint Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality Debate


    ...........

    To its credit, the Permanent Defence Force has learned from the early campaign and is implementing a new recruitment campaign that has taken on some of our recommendations. Unfortunately it does not take away from the fact that of two recruitment campaigns in 2014, one was flawed and the other will not provide output until 2015. We are therefore in a situation where we cannot reach our established strength by 2016 and we believe that this will again be pointed to as a failure on the part of the Reserve.

    We would like to make it clear that we embrace the single Force concept and its ideals. However, this concept cannot be implemented successfully by the Defence Forces alone. It requires a robust and holistic approach based on four pillars. In order to have a viable and effective Reserve Defence Force, we need a complete package which includes a shift in Government defence policy, legislative underpinning and engagement with employers.

    This approach will require bravery. It requires the same type of courage demonstrated by the current Chief of Staff in the reorganisation of the Reserve Defence Force. This courage is now also required on the part of politicians, such as this committee. As it stands, the Reserve Defence Force is being set up to fail - the outcome of the next review is virtually preordained. The authors of the value for money review have been quite clever. They did not get their way the first time, so they have set up a structure whereby, at the next review, they will sit back and say “We told you so”. That is sad on so many levels.
    With the Chair's indulgence, I would like to ask Mr. Eoin Colgan to make some remarks.

    Chairman: We are way over five minutes, but I would like to give the witnesses as much flexibility as possible if my colleagues do not mind.

    Mr. Eoin Colgan: I addressed this committee in 2013 and I thank it for granting me that privilege on that occasion. On that occasion we were dealing with the fall-out from the value for money report and we made a conscious decision to take a positive and proactive approach to this report. We were happy that it had come and we were going to get on with it. We were then, and still are, very much committed to making it work. For the public record, I would like to make the point that from the perspective of the Naval Service Reserve, the value for money report was an odious document, which was reverse-engineered to arrive at a predetermined conclusion that the Reserve Defence Force, both the Army Reserve and the Naval Service Reserve, were a bad lot and had to be got rid of. Naval Service Reserve personnel found it particularly galling that the efforts and successes of the force had been quite washed out. No naval officer was on that value for money board and therefore we feel the Department took the chance to airbrush the Naval Service Reserve success out of that report. One might ask why it would do that. The answer is simple: the Naval Service Reserve showed the inconvenient truth that the professional military organisation, the Navy, could use its reserve in an effective manner for the benefit of both the navy and the general public. If one had the time to go back and read that report, one would find that there are far more references to and discussion of the Garda Reserve than the Naval Service Reserve. The net result of this report from our perspective is that we were slashed from an establishment of 400 to 200, despite the fact that we live on an island in the Atlantic, with a coastline of some 7800 km. Some 200 personnel between our four units left us with 50 personnel for each unit and a long list of key performance indicators to be achieved. We feel we have been set up to fail.

    In practice the Naval Service Reserve's experience of the single Force concept has been that it is a lot of paperwork and very little in the way of actual support regarding increased training or equipment. The truth is that the single Force concept of trying to merge the Permanent Defence Force and the Reserve Defence Force into a seamless unit is a bit like trying to merge the HSE and Ryanair. It will take a long time and will require many changes of mentality on both sides. I emphasise both sides here, not just the Reserve. In fact, the single Force concept, were it to be properly executed in all its aims and goals, would be far more traumatic to the Permanent Defence Force than ourselves. At the moment the land-based element of the naval service operates like the army. That is to say that it operates within a bubble world within the naval base Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 4.30 p.m. The navy, like the army, has become very good at wrapping itself up in its own self-imposed regulations and paperwork. Their idea of a single Force concept is that we operate exactly like they do. They have made no compromise in the way they operate to incorporate us. To give a perfect example of this, we were told in early 2013 that just like the naval service, the Naval Service Reserve must use a document called the Manual of Staff Duties when planning and applying for anything

    The manual of staff duties was hand typed in 1980, so we had to operate to a 34-year old hand-typed document, which could not be removed from the barracks. I will give three very brief examples of the other kind of non-compromising procedures and bureaucracy that the Naval Service Reserve, NSR, has to contend with in our battle to try to make the single Force concept successful. The first one is NSR, similar to Army reserve units, are meant to be self-administrating so a prerequisite for the MIF course, which is a course pertaining to logistics and the computer system, is having a European computer driving licence, ECDL. To do an ECDL in the Defence Forces takes a mere four weeks of solid full-time training while, if one were to do it in the civilian world it would take ten hours in various evening courses.

    As Mr. Cooney outlined, we had a recruitment campaign and the fitness tests are now the exact same as for the Permanent Defence Force, PDF, which is to be welcomed. However, in our unit, the Naval Service ran the fitness tests in the middle of the day over a Tuesday and Wednesday. The new recruits who wanted to join the Naval Service Reserve were asked to come for a fitness test in Limerick in the middle of the day on a Tuesday and Wednesday. No consideration was given to the fact that such people are part-time, that they have jobs or are students on courses. In fairness, the Naval Service learned from the experience and now they will run the fitness tests at the weekend. However, the suggestion is that the course will be run at the naval base which means people from Limerick and Waterford must travel there. Why could they not come to us?

    The third and final example of what goes on relates to eyesight standards. Due to a bureaucratic anomaly the Naval Service Reserve must now have a higher eyesight standard than any other branch of the Defence Forces – Army, Air Corps, Army Reserve and even the Naval Service itself. When we proposed a solution to get around the anomaly, the Naval Service looked at it and thanked us and said it made very interesting reading. Following that, it responded with a half-page e-mail with nine references to our proposal being either “impossible”, “not currently possible” or “very difficult”. One would think we were trying to land a man on the moon.
    Those are just three examples of what we encounter. The non-compromising paperwork and bureaucracy is being successfully used to waste time. The changes called for in the value for money report are not being made. The full list of key performance indicators are not being met. No preplanning has taken place with us to discuss what changes have to be made, despite several requests from our side of the fence.

    Our fear is that the value for money review, which is set for 2016, has been set to coincide with the election and following the election there will be a new Minister for Defence and that sometime after the Easter commemorations the Department of Defence will drop a review report on the new Minister’s desk and say it gave the reserve a chance but it could not meet it, and that it is time to disband the reserve. As the Taoiseach himself recently said, the Civil Service has the best people in the world to write a 300 page report on why things cannot get done. In order to get where we need to get, what we in the NSR want and need, is a far more positive, flexible and accommodating response from the Naval Service, the Army and the Department of Defence.

    Chairman: I thank Mr. Colgan. That was a long five minutes. In case of a perceived conflict of interest, I am a former member of the FCA, as it was then.


    ..........

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    DAIL COMMITTEE REPORT

    Wednesday, 12 November 2014

    Joint Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality Debate


    ...........

    Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl: I will be brief because, as we are aware, there is a critical debate under way in the Dáil at present. I thank you, Chairman, for facilitating today’s meeting. It is very important that the committee agreed to invite the representative body before it and it is to be lauded on its actions.
    Given the day that is in it, the time available will not perhaps allow for the type of in-depth discussion we need. Could we reserve time in the coming weeks, no later than that, for the committee to engage constructively on the points that have been brought to our attention? When the Reserve Defence Force representatives came before us in April of last year it is probably true to say that some people felt they were being perhaps a little alarmist. A year and a half later there is a sense of fatalism in what they have said to us. I had many questions to put, but what is really needed in the situation is an affirmation on the part of the committee of a recognition of the importance of the Reserve Defence Force. The reserves are a critical part of the defence structure on this island. We must look at the issue in the context of the fact that we have pared back our Permanent Defence Force to 9,500 members. We have the lowest expenditure among neutral countries as a percentage of GDP in the European Union. The Reserve Defence Force is operating way below its establishment strength.

    We have been asked to conduct a review. I have one question in that respect. Is the committee being asked to conduct the review or is it considered that we should secure outside expertise to carry it out on our behalf? I think I speak for members on all sides when I say that there is a recognition among the body politic of the importance of reservists. If it is the sense of the witnesses that they have been set up by faceless bureaucrats within a system, the purpose of which is to make them fail, then that is not our ambition for them, which is to see them realise their full potential. The committee should and will do everything in its power to work with reservists to ensure the sort of priority they deserve is given to them in the future.

    Chairman: Does Deputy Ó Fearghaíl have any specific question?

    Deputy Seán Ó Fearghaíl: None other than how they feel we should undertake the review to which they referred.

    Chairman: They were interesting points. One point related to a legislative underpinning. Could the witnesses be more specific in that regard, perhaps not now but they could forward the information to us on specifically what they mean by that?
    Mention was also made of meaningful engagement with employers. Again, that is very broad and very non-specific.

    Mr. Patrick Mulley: Might I respond to the point?

    Chairman: Before that I wish to allow Deputy Seán Kenny to contribute and then I will invite Mr. Mulley to speak.

    Deputy Seán Kenny: I am standing in for my colleague, Senator Denis Landy, who cannot be present due to illness. He was a member of the FCA for a considerable period. I understand from the witnesses that their numbers have reduced to 1,734 from closer to 5,000. That is a drastic reduction.

    I accept the comparison with the Garda Reserve which has an agreement with the Garda Síochána that its members will be released for duty and there will not be any adverse consequences for their careers, but the same is not true for the Reserve Defence Force. We must examine the matter to see whether it could be addressed by legislative underpinning or by means of regulation by the Minister. I am not sure but perhaps an employment regulation is required. Someone should not have to suffer for voluntary engagement with the Defence Forces and playing their part in serving their country. They should be given employment guarantees in that regard.

    Chairman: Does anyone else wish to contribute?

    Deputy Finian McGrath: I wish to ask a few questions later.

    Chairman: Does anyone wish to respond to the questions?

    Mr. Patrick Mulley: In response to the comparison we made with the Garda Reserve, when a reserve garda is in regular employment, a service level agreement is drawn up between the Garda Síochána and the employer in question. That includes an information pack for the employer from An Garda Síochána. We do not have a similar provision. One is on one’s own unless one has a job in the Civil Service or the public service. We seek a similar provision for the Naval Service Reserve. It is not a case of amending legislation at this point or introducing new legislation. An amendment to equality legislation to specify that a reservist could not be discriminated against because of his or her membership of the reserve might be sufficient.

    Something like that might satisfy the legislators, rather than bringing in a whole raft of new legislation.

    Deputy Finian McGrath: I wish to make a couple of points. First, I welcome the witnesses and thank them for their excellent submission. I agree with my colleague,
    Deputy Ó Fearghaíl, that members value the Reserve Defence Forces and it is recognised across all the political parties. However, when one gets down to the nuts and bolts of this debate, it pertains to value for money. My initial reaction, when hearing that term, is that of course one must be responsible in that one is spending taxpayers' money in respect of the Reserve Defence Forces Representative Association. However, as far as I am concerned, I want commitment and dedication to the job in the Reserve Defence Forces. That would be my first priority and is what the State should seek. My first question relates to the association's submission, in which it states that 2,335 reservists must be recruited by 2016 to meet the establishment number and that this will be an extremely difficult target to reach. That target is a year and a half away. Why does the association say that and why will it be so difficult?

    Mr. Martin Cooney: As for the reason it is difficult, if one looks at any recruitment campaign - say the last one that happened earlier this year - the upshot of the entire campaign is that for the formation in, for example, the Defence Forces training centre, DFTC, one gets a recruit platoon. I am unsure of the exact numbers but in general, one gets perhaps 50 people for that formation and then there are three formations. As for the current campaign that is ongoing again in the DFTC, I believe there are 80 applicants for that at present. In general, our figures show that for any one successful recruit, one needs four applicants. Consequently, just on a statistical level, to recruit 1,000 successful applicants, one would need 4,000 applications. That said, if one got the interest, the resources are not there to train them. One needs people on the ground to train reservists and I would challenge any semi-State or State body to recruit 1,000 people in a year in circumstances in which they must have the people undergo medical examinations and security checks, which can take anything from six to 12 weeks, as well as to undergo interviews and the entire process. Consequently, there are logistical issues with training that number of people, whereby one is trying to bring up part-time personnel on their spare time and using up their previous annual leave. One has a permanent force that has been under huge pressure since its reorganisation and there are the issues of all the administrative criteria, leaving aside the sheer numbers, which are huge.

    Deputy Finian McGrath: That leads onto my second question. Basically, Mr. Cooney has indicated there is a huge cost issue. The next question I had intended to ask was on the overall cost of the Reserve Defence Forces. What is the current approximate cost in this regard and what is its cost-effectiveness?

    Mr. Patrick Mulley: The current allocation for the Reserve Defence Forces on direct payment is €1.3 million, which equates to 0.29% of the complete defence budget. Originally, in 2013, we had an allocation of €2.3 million but that was reduced. Moreover, it has been reducing dramatically each year since 2009. We also had an allocation of 41,000 man-days but that number was slashed to 28,000 last year. We now have a situation whereby the resource allocation within which we must work is €1.3 million and our man-day allocation is 28,000. As my colleague stated, if we could recruit, we are prohibited because neither the resource allocation nor the man-day allocation is there. We have been painted into a corner, whereby we have no control over this whatsoever. That is the allocation we received and if that does not rise pro rata as people come in, we cannot reach the 4,000 establishment number. In fact, it is simple arithmetic. Four thousand people by seven days is 41,000 man-days so therefore, if they have restricted us, which they have, we cannot perform and cannot meet the key performance indicators, KPIs, as was mentioned earlier. We cannot meet the unit KPIs because the people do not have the allocation to train.

    Deputy Finian McGrath: The current cost in 2014 is €1.3 million to the taxpayer.

    Mr. Patrick Mulley: In direct payments to the Reserve Defence Forces, RDF.

    Deputy Finian McGrath: Yes, that is the figure I was seeking.

    Mr. Patrick Mulley: Yes.

    Deputy Finian McGrath: As a layperson, that figure is far lower than I would have thought.


    ..........

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    DAIL COMMITTEE REPORT

    Wednesday, 12 November 2014

    Joint Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality Debate


    ...........


    Mr. Patrick Mulley: The value for money, VFM, review set out to take the overall costs of running and administering the RDF. The VFM review came up with a figure that, as an organisation, we seriously dispute, in that it was €21 million to €22 million. The RDF has suffered a downwards straight-line graph on its membership since 2009 because in that year, the restrictions came into place. The precursor to these restrictions happened in 2008 when a recruitment campaign, which had been sanctioned by the Minister, was cancelled permanently. In 2009, the recruiting restrictions came into place and we were not allowed to recruit more than 400 people, even though the VFM review states that we were losing 1,400 people per annum at that point and the VFM review took account of that. However, that review contains contradictory statements and therefore, had the number of people been maintained, we would then have an RDF today that could be stood up to 4,000 members.

    The allocation of 4,000 members for the RDF has never come into being because, as my colleague pointed out earlier, in January 2014 we had 1,200 vacancies in the RDF and there still was attrition going on. One thing that worked against us in a sad way is that people who had been in the RDF in Galway up until the reorganisation were transferred to Cork. People who were in the RDF in Athlone were transferred to Dublin and people who were in the RDF in Dublin were transferred to Athlone. The only way in which we see this is that they were discommoded intentionally. Therefore, we lost all those people and in addition, they managed people out, because we all were given a document in March 2013 on which we were obliged to tick a box indicating whether we wished to go to a new unit, to remain with the old unit in the place it was or to be discharged. A lot of people were managed out in that way and in consequence, our numbers fell dramatically. However, the costs incurred did not fall at all and that is the reason for the €21 million. In a statement earlier in 2013, the Minister stated there would be a 50% reduction in the RDF, which thereby would generate a saving of €11 million. It is only a paper saving because the same people who were put down as incurring the cost factor of €11 million are still in the Permanent Defence Force, PDF. That saving is not true but as for the saving on the RDF, in 2008 we cost €7.9 million whereas in 2014, we are costing €1.3 million.

    Deputy Finian McGrath: I refer to the point made about how the reservists may be required to take up to four days in annual leave to meet simple administrative requirements and the submission then referred to using up 60% of reservists' statutory annual leave. There are two points this regard. First, from the management point of view, it obviously is a way for it to try to save some money. Is there another agenda, in that this may be a test of the commitment of the RDF members? Could it be to make it awkward and to ascertain whether it was possible to have people who would take a really bad hit to be members of the Reserve Defence Force?

    Mr. Martin Cooney: As a preliminary point to that, there is no saving regardless of whether they run it during the day or at night, because the people who administer the tests are paid a salary and their appointment is on a 24-7 basis. Consequently, if they are dictated to turn up at 8 p.m., they must so do. For reservists, the sum costs in respect of the structure and the establishment are there and the administration is there. There is absolutely no saving whatsoever, if one uses the Defence Forces to administer these tests, in just changing them to be flexible. As I stated, the Permanent Defence Force gets no further incentive or pay for so doing. There are lots of issues with this and my colleague, Mr. James Scanlon, can allude to some of them.

    Mr. James Scanlon: I wish to cover briefly the idea of KPIs. They are broken down into individual and unit-----

    Chairman: Can Mr. Scanlon explain what are KPIs?

    Mr. James Scanlon: Sorry, they are key performance indicators or targets. Basically, if one considers the individual KPIs, which are the most important, they are broken down into a medical, a fitness test, a weapons test and one's attendance over the year. That is the shortest way of looking at it. The main problem we are having at present is with medicals. As that is only one quarter of the targets, one might ask what is the problem.

    The problem is that the medical has a knock-on affect in other areas. A person cannot undergo a fitness test without first undergoing a medical test.

    Consideration is being given to the introduction next year of a personal weapons test. However, taking of the personal weapons test will be, because it is quite a strenuous test, dependent on the person having first passed a medical and fitness test. Currently, we are being starved of the medical. We assumed that a new medical, of a less stringent nature, would be introduced for the reserve. I recently had a medical done. It included an ECG and blood tests and I was offered vaccinations. That type of medical is overkill for a reservist. It might be said that there can be only one standard. However, there are already different standards in place in that a member of the Air Corps or Naval Service does not have to complete part three of the fitness test. There is not only one standard even for the PDF. Standards can be tailored to the commitment or to what is necessary. We do not want people who fall over, etc., during a fitness test but we do not believe it is necessary to put the taxpayer to the cost of detailed medicals for reservists.

    Some of our suggestions in this regard include that a medical examination could be provided at the weekend by the Defence Forces; that the reservist GP provide a medical for the Defence Forces for a set fee, which would allow the reservist to attend his or her GP at a time of their own choosing, be that at the weekend or in the evening; that RDF doctors be activated to help the resources available to conduct medicals; that medicals be done every three years rather than annually, with self-certification being acceptable in the other years; and that consideration be given to the introduction of the type of medicals provided by the Canadian Defence Forces, which are of different frequency and intensity dependent on the type of service in which the person is engaged. The reason we are harping on this medical target is because it is influencing all of the other targets. We have been given verbal assurances by the General Staff that we will not be held to these KPIs because they are not providing the resources to us. However, these assurances are only verbal. The people by whom they were given may be retired by the time a review is undertaken, which review will consist of a look-back at the targets and assessment of whether or not they were met.

    We are asking that the Defence Forces would consider the introduction of a flexible method for the achievement of medicals. The other KPIs flow from those. We have no doubt that members of the RDF are capable of meeting all of these targets.

    Mr. Martin Cooney: Deputy McGrath asked, and astutely so, if this was a method of testing the commitment of a reservist. I believe it most definitely is. It would test the commitment of anyone who had 26 annual leave days per year if five of those days were being used up on administrative tasks. I am testing the impatience of my employer if I ask for his or her indulgence in this regard and testing the impatience of my other half in that because I have had to take part in a career course and engage in administrative tasks she would be complaining about my not having taken her and the children on a holiday. That is a huge test to anyone's commitment to an organisation.

    Chairman: Is there no flexibility on the part of the employer?

    Mr. Martin Cooney: There is. Much is dependent on the goodwill of one's employer. An employer pays an employee to do a job. I can turn up for part 1 of my medical only to be told that the doctor will not be available until 2 p.m.. If, as in my case, it takes almost an hour to get to the establishment where the medical is to be done, I would not be inclined to return to my employment at that stage. Yesterday, a man who turned up for his medical, having taken a day off work for it, was told he would not be seen at all. Employers can only have so much patience. They are, after all, paying employees to do a job rather than sit in the Defence Forces medical establishment.

    Deputy Finian McGrath: Mr. Cooney referred earlier to the deficiencies in the records and administration associated with the Reserve Defence Force. Perhaps he would elaborate on the deficiencies in that regard.

    Mr. Martin Cooney: A review of the books identified records of people who were dead or had resigned and to people in the Defence Forces in Australia and Canada. For example, I had applied for a position which was later confirmed. Six months later I received a letter appointing me to another position, completing ignoring the fact that
    I had been at that time already serving in another unit for three or four months. It took a further 12 months before I was on the computer record system of my unit. As such, it was not possible to record any information relating to me in respect of training. I was also being contacted by the other unit asking why I was not turning up for training despite the fact that I had more than 100 hours voluntary training done. They are the type of issues we have been experiencing.

    Chairman: There is a need for a tidying up administratively.



    ..........

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    DAIL COMMITTEE REPORT

    Joint Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality Debate


    Mr. Martin Cooney: Yes.

    Deputy Finian McGrath: There is another issue highlighted in the submission about which I am very uncomfortable. I am very supportive of the Reserve Defence Force. On the issue of structural conflict between the terms "Defence Forces" and "Reserve Defence Force", as a taxpayer I see both as our Defence Forces. I do not like to see distinctions between organisations. All Defence Forces personnel represent the State. We are very proud of all such personnel and appreciate their commitment, time and effort. As I said, I do not like the structural conflict between the Reserve Defence Force and the Defence Forces.

    Deputy John Paul Phelan: I welcome the presentation, which was a fairly strong, no holds barred effort. I must confess I have no family or other involvement in the Reserve Defence Force. Most, if not all, of what I have heard today is new to me. I have some sympathy with Mr. Cooney's point in relation to stresses at home in terms of time. He should try politics some time.

    Deputy Finian McGrath: Hear, hear.

    Deputy John Paul Phelan: We can all empathise with his remarks in that regard.

    Deputy Finian McGrath: It is a bit like being a councillor.

    Deputy John Paul Phelan: I seek clarification on a couple of the statistics provided. In regard to the figure of 1,700, does that include the 40 people recruited at the start of this year?

    Mr. Martin Cooney: No. The figure of 1,700 relates to those paid this year.

    Deputy John Paul Phelan: The figure of 9,500 was also mentioned. Is that a historic figure in respect of reserves or does it include former FCA members?

    Mr. Patrick Mulley: Following the reorganisation in 2005, there were 9,500 reservists. This figure pertained up to and including 20 November 2012 when the next reorganisation took place. There was a reorganisation in 1999, a second reorganisation in 2005 and a third reorganisation in 2012. The number of personnel has been vastly reduced as a result of these reorganisations. Currently, there are 4,000 reservists in the establishment. The figure of 1,734 relates to those who attended paid training in the past 12 months.

    Deputy John Paul Phelan: There is a perception - the witnesses can disabuse me of this if it is not correct - that there is a significant turnover in terms of involvement in the RDF. As stated earlier by Mr. Cooney people often join when they are young and have few commitments and then leave.
    Mr. Patrick Mulley: The reorganisation demonstrated that is not true in that to achieve a nominal figure of 4,000 people had to be managed out. Therefore, we were over-subscribed for the 4,000 places. In regard to the commentary around turnover, while turnover in the first year is quite high - as is the case in any organisation - in general retention is good. As stated in the VFM in the years leading up to 2012 attendance stood at 86% to 87%, which speaks for itself.

    Deputy John Paul Phelan: People who get involved tend to stay involved. Mr. Cooney stated that the management structure following on from the reorganisation - which we are now 20 plus months into - the new structure still has not been put into operation. Is that new structure likely to be put in place any time soon?

    Mr. Martin Cooney: It is happening slowly but surely. Undoubtedly, the General Staff is committed to this. It has given us full support and have at all times been supportive of us and met with us when requested. At issue in this regard is middle management in that the message comes down the line to middle management and then stops so that the people dealing with us either have a lack of information or training or do not know what is going on. Also, at issue is the speed of the reorganisation. The value for money review took place in November; the administrative order was formalised at the beginning of February and we were to be reorganised by March.

    That is significant speed of change in respect of such a large organisation which is spread throughout the country. While the administrative order was issued within weeks of the draft, the actual follow-on administration process was not up to speed. The general regulation governing the entire reserve has not been brought up to date. However, I understand that a draft is near completion and that it will be signed off. It is a little bit late for this, given that we are halfway through the process towards the next review.

    Deputy John Paul Phelan: Again, the middle management issues sound a great deal like politics.

    Mr. Martin Cooney: We could swap roles.

    Chairman: I wish to raise one or two points. Earlier, I referred to a shift in Government defence policy. This is a matter which the committee needs to discuss. If our guests have any suggestions with regard to legislative underpinning, perhaps they might send them on to us. There is also the question of meaningful engagement with employers. There are the various employer bodies and then there are single traders. That is an interesting aspect of the matter. I am not sure whether employers or the organisations which represent them have already commented on this to our guests or whether they have had any engagement with such organisations. Will they indicate whether such engagement has taken place?

    Mr. Patrick Mulley: We have not had any up to this point. We are seeking to make some connections with IBEC. We decided not to proceed in that regard until we came before the committee.

    Chairman: The other issue which arises is that of defined operational roles. This old chestnut has been around for as long as I can remember and, to my knowledge, the reserve still does not have a defined operational role.

    Mr. Patrick Mulley: On the previous occasion on which we came before the committee, I stated that at that point there had been a discussion about it being an aid to the civil authority. That matter has not been advanced because, as Mr. Cooney pointed out, the defence legislation has not been updated. We are still waiting for the relevant material relating to Defence Forces regulation R5 to be published. There has been movement in respect of one matter in that we will, under the amendment to R5, be able to perform certain duties. This matter was also raised on the previous occasion on which we came before the committee. We are waiting to see the shape the changes involved will take.

    Mr. Martin Cooney: My colleague, Mr. Gilbey, has done some research on employer engagement in other jurisdictions. Perhaps he might outline his findings in brief.

    Chairman: Mr. Gilbey should ensure that his comments are very brief because we are really up against it from the point of view of time.

    Mr. Rob Gilbey: I did a great deal of work on international comparisons, particularly in respect of the four countries - Canada, the UK, Australia and New Zealand - at which the value-for-money report looked. There are four key fundamentals which the reserve forces in this countries have and which ours does not. These were pretty much glossed over in the value-for-money report. The first of these fundamentals is operational purpose, which we have just discussed and which is absolutely pivotal. It is necessary because recruitment and training can be orientated around it. The second relates to employment protection legislation. This is both a key enabler and mission critical and it is standard among all our comparator nations. As stated earlier, it was previously present in section 57 of the Defence Forces Act 1940 but it is no longer there. We hope that employment protection legislation will be discussed comprehensively in the context of the forthcoming White Paper. It certainly was not discussed in connection with the value-for-money report. If reservists do not have any guarantee that their livelihoods are safe, there is no guarantee that we can actually mobilise them. It is, therefore, really a matter of courtesy to protect reservists who are themselves protecting Ireland.
    Legislation alone does not work. There must also be employer support and engagement. It is not sufficient to oblige employers to release reservists for mobilisation and, possibly, training. There must be engagement between the Department and employers. This is generally done by all our comparator nations through consultative bodies which bridge the gap between defence and industry. The establishment of such a group here was recommended in a military board report published in 1999. To our detriment, however, this recommendation was never pursued. Again, the White Paper may also address this matter. It is important that employers understand that there are significant business benefits to employing reservists. In that context, we learn practical skills, develop personality traits and obtain qualifications during our reserve service which have scalable value. This position in this regard is outlined in reports relating to and produced by SaBRE, the UK's reservist organisation, which were compiled with the assistance of the Chartered Management Institute. These reports scaled the cost attributed to reserve training in order to show employers how much that training is worth. Employers in other nations are also rewarded for supporting and hiring reservists. In Australia, for example, employers can claim up to $1,400 per week through an employer support payment scheme if they release their reservists for training and deployment. Such is the importance of supporting employers, there is even an international conference on employer supports for reservists which is held on a biannual basis. This conference is used to discuss research and experience in order to enhance reserve capability. To date, however, Ireland has not participated in the conference. We would like to hope that - going forward - it might be possible for us to consider attending.

    ..........

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  12. #34
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    DAIL COMMITTEE REPORT

    Wednesday, 12 November 2014

    Joint Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality Debate


    ...........

    In the international context, all of our comparator nations classify reservists as part-time employees. The Reserve Defence Force in this country prides itself on being a volunteer organisation. Unfortunately, however, the removal of the annual gratuity and the policy of measured compulsory volunteerism has led to poor retention rates. This explains why there is such a deficit among the lower level ranks at present.

    Mr. Martin Cooney: The fundamental point is that this is not something new. It has been done in other jurisdictions, which have employer engagement agencies. In order to deal with the employer bodies in this country, the establishment of such an agency is required.

    Chairman: That is interesting. Does Mr. Richardson wish to comment?

    Mr. Neal Richardson: In the context of the point Mr. Gilbey made with regard to SaBRE and the British Armed Forces' employment engagement programme, a number of recent surveys in respect of various promotional courses within the British military reserve placed an actual financial value on reservist training, etc., to employers. The surveys in question indicate that putting a person through recruit training - the lowest level of training the British reserve forces offer - is worth £960 to a civilian employer. Training a person to be a reserve officer is worth £22,000 to such an employer. The British have placed a value on what is involved and this has given employers incentives and changed the perception in respect of reserve forces in the UK. If that was done here and if employers were to look on employing Reserve Defence Force personnel as an actual benefit to them, it is something we would welcome.

    Chairman: I think we are done. I thank our guests for their submission and ask them to continue to engage with us. A number of questions were posed and perhaps they will reflect on these and come back to us with detailed replies. I wish to acknowledge the presence of other Oireachtas Members who attended this meeting and those in the Visitors Gallery who have shown an interest in proceedings. We will now go into private session to deal with some housekeeping matters.



    The joint committee went into private session at 3.40 p.m. and adjourned at 4 p.m. until 10 a.m. on Wednesday, 19 November 2014.



    ...........

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  14. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by WhingeNot View Post
    I was more trying to set the scene above than trying to get into specifics from the outset. I actually agree with the perceived consensus that trying to establish a Defence Forces big enough, and comprehensively armed enough, to repel a scenario 'a' conventional foreign force invasion would be a futile exercise. I'm thinking more along the lines of a better deterrent - 'on all fronts' possibly to the eventual detriment of the army...but only to a relatively small extent (numbers wise).

    At present, the anti-air defences would, in aerial terms, require the opposing aircraft to be almost on top of us before the DF's could respond. As for multiple entries of aerial whatevers - as missiles, large rockets and/or aircraft - would be very difficult for the existing (essentially one-shot, then run/drive to a new position) systems to counter, and with only a finite amount of defensive missiles to draw on. No effective anti-aircraft - aircraft either. There are essentially no anti-ship (or anti-submarine) weapons available. The existing anti-armour weapons require soldiers to expose themselves to the elements, never mind bullets and bombs, and there are effectively no self-propelled anti-armour and protected weapons i.e. tank-like vehicles. There is no long range artillery, and the nearest thing to it is in short supply, and again, requires soldiers to expose themselves to the elements and everything else, meaning any force with heavy/long range artillery or artillery rockets could strike out at the DF with little chance of recourse from this side. In other words, even in the 'B' or 'C' scenarios, many nations of the world could strike out at the country from a relatively short distance with general physical (if not diplomatic!) impunity.
    E.G. most anyone could fly an ordinary jet airliner over the country at cruising altitude and drop a 'payload' of propaganda leaflets and there would be little that could be done about it.

    So, I'm not suggesting a larger, all over better equipped army, with an all arms brigade, or loads and loads of barracks and poorly and lightly equipped troops...but I am suggesting...
    Or we could always join NATO

  15. #36
    Moderator DeV's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sofa View Post
    Or we could always join NATO
    A majority of the Irish electorate are extremely unlikely to want that

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  17. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by DeV View Post
    Let's talk purely about the conventional threats

    What level threat do we face?
    Realistically extremely low
    Realistically the only threats we face are countries in Europe (most of whom are stable countries within the EU), Russia (or Eastern bloc) and the USA due to our geographic location.
    The threat from and of these would more than likely be based on a serious change in relations between these external actors.

    Taking Ireland to take Ireland (ie take every inch) is extremely unlikely, we would have a have seriously pissed off another nation.
    The only conceivable threat would be:
    air and/sea landing
    Up to brigade strength (or brigades at multiple locations)
    Primarily infantry based force
    Depending on the force they could may have IFVs, APCs or be light infantry
    Depending on the force they could have light (105) or heavy (155) arty in regimental strength
    Depending on the force they could have MBTs in squadron strength
    They are likely to have some support helicopters and possibly attack helicopters
    They are likely to have naval (possibly amphibious) and air support

    However, they are likely to be in or be soon to be in a major war (probably involving nuclear powers), so the vast bulk of their forces (especially their best and most capable) are likely to be already committed or be otherwise unavailable (including assets mentioned above)

    Potental targets?:
    Major airports (most likely Shannon)
    Major ports (most likely Cork, possibly Shannon Estuary)
    Possibly major natural resources (eg Corrib, Kinsale, Whitegate, Whiddy Island)

    So we should potentially equip ourselves to meet the threat.

    However, we thing of a USA-v-Russia scenario (with Shannon being taken by the Russians) we could expect help from the USA as it would be a strategic threat to them.
    So if you thing this is a foreseeable threat are you willing to pay an extra €500 a year in tax to fund the squadron of MBTs, multiple battalions of IFVs/APCs, medium range SAMs, squadron of swing role fighters and 3 frigates. Oh and the wages of at least triple the amount of personnel we have currently?

    Or would a more viable alternative (wish list) be:
    - double the amount of infantry MOWAGs
    - equip the Cav & Armd Car Sqns with the current quantity of vehicles
    - get a battery of medium range SAMs
    - get a squadron of light strike jet fighters/trainers
    - ensure we have enough weapons systems & equipment to fully equip all units (eg Javelin CLUs)
    - buy 2 EPVs with more military capability

    But as I said even this is a wish list

  18. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by DeV View Post
    A majority of the Irish electorate are extremely unlikely to want that
    Majority of the electorate don't like being fined for drunk driving either. The electorate don't always know what is in their best interests.

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  20. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by na grohmití View Post
    Majority of the electorate don't like being fined for drunk driving either. The electorate don't always know what is in their best interests.
    No but it would be them that would get to make the decision

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  22. #40
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    This is firmly in hovertanks territory but I think we should get some advanced s-300 system from Uncle Vlad to have just in case they get uppidy next door....
    Everyone who's ever loved you was wrong.

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    Yes it is in hovertanks.

    Unless Ireland decide to make some kind of strategic change like NATO or up GDP spend ( both completely unlikely with the current political parties ) I would not expect much change .
    "Are they trying to shoot down the other drone? "

    "No, they're trying to fly the tank"

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  26. #42
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    I dunno, surely the S300 would tick all the boxes for SF & others:

    It's not "NATO compatible", not Israeli and can't so easily be tied into some joint EU army, rabble rabble conscription narrative.

    Half a dozen S300 batteries rolling down O'Connell St. in 2016 in front of Taoiseach/Field Marshal Gerry.

    Easy sale to the public.

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    No need to buy,rig up something that resembles same,use airsoft,neither those on the stand nor on the street will spot the difference.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DeV View Post
    However, we thing of a USA-v-Russia scenario (with Shannon being taken by the Russians) we could expect help from the USA as it would be a strategic threat to them.
    But what if The USA took a likening to the Shannon area using its air facilities (USAF) and estuary (US Navy) to keep an eye on the eastern Atlantic. Of course they would ask first but when Ireland says NO due to Neutrality they might take it anyway. And there probably be no help from Russia.

  29. #45
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stevo768 View Post
    But what if The USA took a likening to the Shannon area using its air facilities (USAF) and estuary (US Navy) to keep an eye on the eastern Atlantic. Of course they would ask first but when Ireland says NO due to Neutrality they might take it anyway. And there probably be no help from Russia.
    At the height of the cold war when the russians were considered to pose a real threat they didn't take or size shannon.

    Now, they Americans are so far ahead of the russians they will never loose that advantage, so honestly they're never going to risk international pariah status to seize a place they really don't need. All that sabre rattling by Putin masks the fact that on the air and sea the russians don't pose a real threat to Nato forces.

    As for invasion, again during the cold war it was believed that unless there was a protracted ground war in Europe that resulted in the russians reaching the french coast there was n chance of invasion. The most likey threat was seen as special forces raids and even these would be near impossible for the russians to mount. look at the back copies of an cosantoir, and see the type of exercies (although few and far between) there were running in the 1970's and 1980's.

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  31. #46
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stevo768 View Post
    But what if The USA took a likening to the Shannon area using its air facilities (USAF) and estuary (US Navy) to keep an eye on the eastern Atlantic. Of course they would ask first but when Ireland says NO due to Neutrality they might take it anyway. And there probably be no help from Russia.
    I left out the word possibly

    They could possibly but not necessarily

    Quote Originally Posted by paul g View Post
    At the height of the cold war when the russians were considered to pose a real threat they didn't take or size shannon.

    Now, they Americans are so far ahead of the russians they will never loose that advantage, so honestly they're never going to risk international pariah status to seize a place they really don't need. All that sabre rattling by Putin masks the fact that on the air and sea the russians don't pose a real threat to Nato forces.

    As for invasion, again during the cold war it was believed that unless there was a protracted ground war in Europe that resulted in the russians reaching the french coast there was n chance of invasion. The most likey threat was seen as special forces raids and even these would be near impossible for the russians to mount. look at the back copies of an cosantoir, and see the type of exercies (although few and far between) there were running in the 1970's and 1980's.
    "Believed"!!

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    The fact that the USAF used Shannon during GW1, Afghanistan and GW2 shows its strategic importance.

    They could have easily used facilities elsewhere in Europe but didn't.

    It is practically unthinkable but IMHO something along those lines is the most likely (however unlikely it may be) external coventional threat we face.

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    Didn't the Russians do a practice bombing run at a Swedish city not to long ago??.

    What if one of the bombers that flew down the west coast recently turned and did a run at Liverpool or Cardiff over Irish airspace,

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    ... RE: INVASION!! & hover tanks?..Well, in my second post did start off by using the words ‘token’ ‘examples’ ‘modicum’ and ‘deterrent’, the extreme unlikelihood of scenario ‘A’ or possibility of an effective counter to it - and put more focus on scenarios ‘B’ and ‘C’ with mention of considerations of (i) and (ii).

    What I did hint at, was that if the existence of the Defence Forces is ‘tolerated’ by the general public as an insurance policy for the country against the ‘just in case’ – that this then means that it should be able to offer a bit more of a opposition to the kind of attack a nation state is more likely to encounter in this age. Scenarios ‘A’ (‘boots on the ground’)(total imagination land) and then ‘B’ and ‘C’ are not very likely, but some defence against them is what people are paying for. Regards likelihood of such attacks, you could say the same for most European armies/nations. (I did not really put much thought into who the ‘bad guys’ would be breaking one of our windows...but the US and UK would be some of the last I would place bets on for doing such).

    But how about a laboured analogy about it...
    People do not like to be told that the expensive insurance they pay for will only cover them for various small ills, but will not cover them for even the initial treatment of a serious medical problem in their relative youth (no matter how unlikely) though perhaps, if the medical problem hangs around long enough to do some damage – it might then be able to offer payment for some low-level treatments. But, no preventative treatment, no way. Customers would probably say; ‘That’s not what I thought, i’m not expecting to live forever, but i’d like to pay less then next year please, or give me a different policy for the same price - that does cover me better!’.

    Exploring this premise, I also intimated that the Defence Forces ‘might’ have to be rebalanced, with the Army possibly becoming smaller to allow (pay) for it to be more technically advanced, and the Air Corp and Naval Service correspondingly improving and expanding. I did suggest making the Reserves bigger, with financial incentives increasing with time spent and commitment (but volunteerism and not pay, being the operative words), but I don’t think I suggested making the PDF substantially bigger, or bigger at all – so as to be able to repel any and all comers.

    What i’m suggesting is a bit more of a hard edge to the DF (within reason) as in principle, its ‘raison d’être’ is national defence (..?), but in the day-to-day, that say half of that ‘hard edge’ be deployed with the UN overseas and retaining a viable stance in those missions.
    For example, to possibly lead less advanced, non-western UN forces, and to help prevent different tribes/factions/countries from massacring each other’s towns and villages, and be less dependent on other UN forces bigger than our own.

    Putting acquisition of equipment in such a frame of – use mostly in UN service abroad – it can be explained that the ‘bad guys’ often have the ‘hard stuff’ to hand (armour, aircraft, artillery) – or at least some equipment roundly comparable to our own (but with far more personnel) and the need to travel over rough/ sandy/ muddy roads across vast countries. That that hard stuff is so then needed by our PDF too, AND that same hard edge stuff should/could also exist to be able to put up, at least in principle, a bit of a fight, back home in case another nation threatens lashing out. (Noting that even the other small countries, e.g. in Scandinavia, Austria and Portugal in Europe will still have more of it than we do). This are reasons which could be more easily explained to, justified and be sympathetically heard by the public. Particularly the UN service bit, people would not I think, have too much of a problem with the DF trying to ennoble the UN through undertaking its own UN missions well. Think the big Congo missions, Lebanon, Somalia - the missions that will be in many citizen’s consciousness, or vague recollections of school child history.

    It would be unwise to entertain the idea I believe (and this is about as cynical as I will get) that the populace is as interested or enamoured with militarily popular, military response only undertakings such as Afghanistan (for armies and air forces), pirates in the gulf/Africa (for navies) and Libya and Syria (for air forces).

    I just do not believe that people will accept NATO 'club' membership as a good thing or, especially as a justifier for military improvements – people are extra cynical ‘in this day and age’ – and probably with more than good reason(s). Post Yugoslavia and Rwanda it would not have been such a difficult and divisive argument to make, post Iraq and Afghanistan I think it is.
    As for Ukraine/East Ukraine, that seems far too analogous and close to Ireland - i.e. immediately post independence, and WW1&WW2, for comfort and to contemplate.

    I think because of the small size of the country (and emigration, and yes...mostly ’neutral’ stance), Irish people are more prone to having a fairly wide and savvy view of world events, and a good appreciation of history e.g. domestically – colony/terrorist-freedom fighter/independence – more so than of the sometimes partisan/somewhat insular/unaware views of some people from much larger countries – at least in my casual experience anyway. For example, you could be forgiven for not have been aware I think, from watching British or American news media, that there was any nations other than the British or American militaries respectively, in the Afghanistan conflict in recent years].
    Say to people: WWII – NATO; they may say back; Triple-Entente – WWI. You say: dictator/terrorists - Iraq/Afghanistan/Iran – they say; oil/WMD/’Reds under the Beds’/ Middle East mess. There is nothing wrong with been a little circumspect and diplomatic when it comes to world events. Would the White Paper reflect, or need to reflect on such nuances?!
    Last edited by WhingeNot; 17th November 2014 at 01:35. Reason: typos

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  36. #50
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    Quote Originally Posted by sofa View Post
    Didn't the Russians do a practice bombing run at a Swedish city not to long ago??.

    What if one of the bombers that flew down the west coast recently turned and did a run at Liverpool or Cardiff over Irish airspace,
    YES they did do a simulated attack. They also sailed a submarine near the heart of there capital city.

    http://blog.foreignpolicy.com/posts/...itorial_waters

    The Russians could have done a practice run at Liverpool/Cardiff (there is nothing to stop them) But does anybody know what they done after the RAF stopped chasing them and the Portuguese picked them up.

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