Shatter to make cuts in Reserve Defence Force
Minister for Justice Alan Shatter is to reduce the size of the Reserve Defence Force and cut its funding by 50 per cent following a value-for-money report.
Mr Shatter is to end the practice of standalone reserve units, and introduce a “single force concept” of a Permanent Defence Force with reserve components.
The restructuring will result in the closure of 32 reserve facilities currently located outside of existing barracks.
Mr Shatter said that while the closure of many RDF locations was “regrettable” the findings of the value-for-money report demanded reform.
The number of Permanent Defence Forces personnel who work full time with the reserves will be reduced from the current 261 to 57.
Sixteen reserve facilities will be retained at Letterkenny, Sligo, Cavan, Boyle, Castlebar, Mullingar, Navan, Bray, Clifden, Ennis, Tralee, Mallow, Templemore, Waterford, Wexford and Skibbereen.
The remaining reserve units will be accommodated in Permanent Defence Forces barracks.
The measures, which Mr Shatter announced yesterday, are recommendations contained in a review of the Reserve Defence Force, undertaken by an independently chaired steering committee of the Department of Defence, the Defence Forces, and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.
Currently, the Reserve Defence Force allows for 9,652 members, and includes the First Line Reserves, the Naval Service Reservesand the Army Reserves (formerly the FCA).
The restructuring is expected to halve the amount the Government spends on the Reserve Defence Force, resulting in savings of €11 million.
The new restructured reserve component will be capped at 4,000 personnel – 3,800 Army Reserves and 200 Naval Service reserves.
The reserve force is designed to have 9,652 personnel. Numbers in recent years have fallen significantly and currently there are 4,554 personnel.
Of these 4,554, the review found that approximately half were not undertaking the training necessary to maintain required capability. This number will be reduced to 4,069 by natural turnover.
The review also recommends further cost savings be achieved by using reserves to carry out unpaid duties to assist members of the Permanent Defence Forces but these unpaid duties will not include armed operations. The system of training will be changed from a combination of some paid training days mixed with unpaid days with a gratuity payment of typically €352 per person to a system of fully paid training days.