Two hundred troops are to be recruited into the Defence Forces this year in a bid to keep pace with the expected number of retirements.
The current strength of the Army, Naval Service and Air Corps stands at about 9,600, which is well below the permitted maximum of 10,000.
Worried defence chiefs have been lobbying hard in recent months for a limited recruitment drive to prevent the numbers falling to a level that would interfere with full operational deployment.
Defence Minister Eamon O Cuiv announced yesterday that the Government had approved the recruitment of 200 enlisted personnel.
No date has been set for the recruitment but it will take place this year and a decision on where the new personnel will be deployed will not be taken until a full review has been completed by the authorities. But it is expected that most, if not all of the army's commands, will benefit from the intake of fresh "blood".
There will be no need for a new recruitment campaign as the personnel will be selected from existing panels of young people, who have already expressed an interest in joining the Defence Forces.
Around 10,000 indicated an interest last year, and it is estimated that about 1,300 are currently on the panels.