Shatter launches debate on future of the Defence Forces

‘Green paper’ to address issues from cyber terrorism to maritime patrols

The Government today issued a call for submissions on the future role of the defence forces.  Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill / The Irish Times

The Government today issued a call for submissions on the future role of the defence forces. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill / The Irish Times

Tue, Jul 16, 2013, 19:13

The Government today issued a call for submissions on the future role of the defence forces.

The Green Paper as it is called asks for considered responses to the changing environment the defence forces, given the diminishing threat of inter-State war, and developing threats from international terrorism, including cyber terrorism.

It also asks for considered responses to the ongoing need for internal State security and the role of the defence forces in backing up the civil power, particularly in the light of a predominantly unarmed police force.

The responses will lead to the formulation of a new policy on the role of the Defence Forces, expected to be published as a “white paper”, in late 2014.

The last white paper or policy statement on the role of the Defence Forces was published in 2000 and the Government wants the new paper to address new and emerging security issues, particularly those which involve new technologies, including cyber terrorism.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Defence said many of the technologies which we take for granted today, such as electronic services and even mobile phones were not as prevalent when the last white paper was prepared 13 years ago. The defence forces in conjunction with the Garda already have a role in combating cyber terrorism, she said.

The process will also address Ireland’s involvement and relationship with bodies such as the United Nations and requirements to participate in peace-keeping missions, as well as the question of defence cooperation with regional organisations such as the EU, Nato and the Partnership for Peace.

It will also consider the economic situation and availability of resources.

The call for submissions noted that future military capability must be appropriate to the demands presented by the evolving security and defence environment. However while it noted the environment in which the defence forces operate is changing technologically, the call for submissions also referred to the continued need for “a broad range of traditional operations” such as maritime patrols by both the air and naval services.

Minister for Defence Alan Shatter said the process would provide an opportunity “to consider future security challenges and consider how we should respond to those challenges, including what military capabilities we should maintain and develop” he said the process would “frame a defence policy for the next decade, whilst building on the success of the last White Paper on Defence.”

Views are being sought from all “informed” people including academics, individuals and campaign groups. An electronic copy of the Green Paper on Defence is available on the Department of Defence website at defence.ie

Submissions should be made in writing by e-mail to whitepaper@defence.ie or by post to the department’s Planning and Organisation Branch, Station Road, Newbridge, Co Kildare. The closing date for receipt of submissions is 10th October 2013.