New report to recommend overhaul of Defence Forces command structure

Commission on the Defence Forces review is set to be published on Wednesday

A report that is expected to form the basis of a massive programme of reform of the Defence Forces is due to be published on Wednesday.

The Commission on the Defence Forces was established by Minister for Defence Simon Coveney in late 2020 in response to concerns about the capabilities of the Irish military and an ongoing retention crisis within the Defence Forces.

It had been due to issue its final report by the end of 2021 but this was delayed.

The initial draft of the report was subject to sharp criticism last year by the Defence Forces, which felt it was lacking in ambition.

Additional work has been ongoing since and the final report is expected to be launched publicly this Wednesday.

It is understood the report will recommend a substantial increase in Defence Forces capabilities and resources, as well as a complete overhaul of its command structure.

It will call for the creation of a new role of chief of defence and the establishment of a joint strategic headquarters.

It is also expected to lay out various options for increasing Defence Forces capabilities, including the possibility of increasing its current budget by 300 per cent, allowing for the purchase of jet aircraft and additional naval vessels.

There will also be a proposal for a new “Information Command” which is capable of defending against and deterring online attacks against the State.

This would employ up to 300 personnel and rely heavily on civilian staff as well as reservists with cyber expertise. Under the proposals, the command would play a frontline role in both detecting and deterring cyberattacks, countering misinformation and protecting the integrity of Irish elections from online interference.