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EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
Introduction
1. This Value for Money and Policy Review of Military Training Lands was commissioned by the Department of Defence. The Review was overseen by a joint civilian/military Steering
Committee with detailed analysis carried out by FGS (in association with Sector Associates, a specialist UK-based military training consultancy). The Terms of Reference (TOR) were wide ranging and covered all aspects of achieving economy, efficiency and effectiveness in relation to the current portfolio of military training lands (some 17 sites in total1).
2. The Review was undertaken having regard to the Programme Logic Model for the conduct of such reviews, and to other Department of Finance guidelines.
3. The accompanying detailed report sets out the Consultancy team’s findings in accordance with the Terms of Reference and, based on these findings, the conclusions and recommendations of the Steering Committee. This Executive Summary sets out the key issues arising under five VFM headings.
Objectives and Linkage to Strategy
4. The usage of military training lands is essentially the mechanism by which training
requirements are linked with demand for military training land and is dictated by the suitability, availability and capacity of land to meet the requirements involved. At an overall Defence Forces level, the uses for which dedicated military training lands are required are well specified.
5. There is a structured and systematic process in place linking overarching Defence Strategy to military training objectives and to current training requirements, which are set in the context of the Department of Defence and Defence Forces Strategy Statement (2008-2010).
6. The Steering Committee has recommended that the allocation system for military training lands should be enhanced through the creation of a web-based system and that consideration should be given to developing a web-based centralised booking system in order to improve visibility of training land availability across all training land sites.
Effectiveness
7. Effectiveness, in the context of the military training lands portfolio, is primarily a function of the extent to which this portfolio is appropriate to the training needs of the Defence Forces (i.e. that each training requirement can be discharged) and of the extent to which the lands portfolio has heretofore been sufficient to enable the Defence Forces to maintain capability by means of discharging its training requirements.
8. The Defence Forces use the military training lands portfolio to conduct a range of training modalities pursuant to the targets and objectives set out in the Annual Training Directive. Over the four-year period covered by this Review, a total of almost 16,000 training days were conducted across the portfolio.
9. The existing portfolio of military training lands is sufficient to allow the Defence Forces to meet their training requirements although there are a number of strategic deficits within the current portfolio. For instance, the primary and secondary ranges available for meeting Level 12 training needs require a programme of investment to improve automation and to bring them up to the required modern standards. There are also constraints regarding the availability of manoeuvre space. A number of initiatives have been put in place to remedy these deficits and the Department and the Defence Forces are currently examining a range of proposals aimed at further ameliorating these restrictions.
10. The Defence Forces have a strong and effective regime in place in relation to the safety of military personnel involved in training activity and in relation to public safety. Moreover, environmental compliance is given a high weighting within the regime and there is no evidence to suggest any inherent systemic weaknesses in that regard.
11. There are a range of risks that threaten the continued viability, sustainability and usage of certain training sites. These include community, environmental and development issues. There is a requirement to ensure that the balance of considerations is weighted in favour of maintaining the required training activities. The Steering Committee noted the concerns regarding the continued viability of Ground to Air and Air to Ground weapons training in Gormanston, due to proposed developments in its locality. The Steering Committee recommends that the Department’s Property Management Branch should continue to liaise with the relevant authorities regarding the proposed development at Bremore. The absence of an alternative site for such training within the current portfolio necessitates the preservation of such training at Gormanston.
Efficiency and Resource Allocation
12. The cumulative financial scope of this Review covered a total spend of approximately €27m. Over the period 2004 to 2007, approximately €5m was expended on the operation,
administration and management of these lands (excluding personnel costs). Over the same
period, the Department of Defence incurred approximately €3.1m capital costs in relation to the maintenance and development of the military training lands portfolio. The remaining costs largely relate to personnel.
13. There were 107 personnel employed for the purposes of administering, operating and
maintaining the military training lands facilities and associated lands in 2007 (80 military and 27 civilian employees); a further seven civilian staff in the Property Management Branch (Department of Defence) spent varying proportions of their time undertaking work in relation to the management of these lands.
14. The Steering Committee carefully considered the usage analysis undertaken by FGS
Consulting. The Steering Committee noted that usage is but one metric that informs the
requirement for military training lands and that there are important caveats surrounding the interpretation of the usage statistics presented in the report.
15. The Steering Committee has identified a number of properties, where disposal will have no adverse impact on the training activities of the Defence Forces. These properties include Barnane, Cushla, Garrynafela and Kilpeddar.
16. The Steering Committee also examined the portfolio in order to determine those properties with unique attributes that are essential to the training requirements of the Defence Forces. These properties include Bere Island, the Glen of Imaal/Coolmoney Camp, lands at the Defence Forces Training Centre Curragh, Fort Davis, Gormanston, Kilbride Camp and ranges and Kilworth Camp and ranges.
17. The Steering Committee also noted that there is a requirement to strengthen the existing management structures and systems and recommended that this be achieved by means of improved and expanded data capture, ensuring that performance data is monitored and is used to inform strategic decisions regarding military training lands and undertaking further analysis following a period of follow-up data gathering.
Continued Relevance and Alternative Approaches
18. The fundamental purpose of the military training lands portfolio is to enable the Defence Forces to meet its training requirements and to develop capabilities in a manner that will allow it to meet the roles assigned to it. In order to maintain Defence Forces, which can sustain capabilities to the standard required and to fulfil the roles set out for it by Government, there will be an ongoing need to hold and maintain a lands portfolio.
19. Recourse to training overseas is an option that is already availed of on a regular basis although as a sovereign (and militarily neutral) State, it would not be acceptable to place the Defence Forces in a position of high dependency on the training facilities of another jurisdiction.
20. The Steering Committee noted that there is a continued requirement for retention of military training lands. The Steering Committee also noted that there are alternative approaches to the management of military training lands but that there are important issues of scale that must be considered in that regard.
Performance Monitoring
21. The current performance management arrangements are weakened by a series of
management data deficits. Moreover, it will be necessary to establish a revised matrix of Key Performance Indicators and related targets around Inputs, Activities, Outputs and Intermediate Outcomes.
22. The Steering Committee agreed that there is a requirement to develop systems to routinely identify the full range of costs associated with each military training lands site.
23. The Steering Committee also recommends that the revised set of the performance indicators set out in Chapter 6, should be adopted.
Conclusion
24. A fit for purpose portfolio of military training lands, effectively and efficiently managed, is a key requirement in ensuring the development and maintenance of military capabilities to fulfil the roles of the Defence Forces. The findings, conclusions and recommendations arising from this Review are aimed at ensuring a high quality approach to meeting the needs of the Defence Organisation in that regard.
25. A rationalised (and sustainable) portfolio of land holdings and the use of better and more appropriate performance measures and indicators will also contribute to better economy, efficiency and effectiveness. Such measures, allied to greater investment in facilities within the reduced portfolio, and the further development of strategies to mitigate risks which impinge on the viability of training, will strengthen and enhance the overall military training regime.