Thursday 23 October 2014

Anger as Shatter to slash Army reserves

Tom Brady Security Editor

Published 21/11/2012 | 05:00

THE Reserve Defence Force is to be downsized and given a reduced geographical spread.

The move is part of a compromise deal to prevent the force being abolished.

For several months defence and military chiefs have been at war with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, which wanted the reservists to be scrapped.

But the compromise has angered the part-timers, who feel their position has been undermined after being deemed a few years ago to have reached professional standards to allow them take part in overseas peace missions. It deals a further body blow to parts of the country which have already been hit by barrack closures.

Strength

The overall strength of the Army and Naval Service reserves will be reduced from 4,500 personnel to 4,069, involving relocation for some existing members because of new organisational structures.

The number of Permanent Defence Force (PDF) personnel available to work full-time with the reserve is being slashed from 261 members to 57.

Units will be amalgamated and closed to facilitate the changes and will be either taken into PDF posts or allocated to 16 existing locations. The changes are a follow-on from the reforms of the PDF, which are due to come into effect next month, with the number of brigades reduced from three to two.

Gratuities averaging €352 per reservist for taking part in training days are also being withdrawn.

But the budget of €900,000 will be used to provide sufficient paid training days for the reservists.

Defence Minister Alan Shatter last night put a gloss on the changes by saying they would create a "single force" concept with PDF units having reserve components rather than a separate standalone reserve.

He said that while the closure of many reserve locations was regrettable, the findings of the review and the reality of the resources demanded reform.

Chief of Staff of the Defence Forces, Lieut General Sean McCann, said he was acutely aware of the key strengths of the reserves and the exceptional calibre and dedication of its members.

"Their contribution in terms of community volunteerism and military support to the State is significant", he added. He said that when fully implemented, the plan would deliver a more effective military organisation, whose permanent soldiers were supported by a credible and fit- for-purpose reserve and as a single force.

Irish Independent

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