Defence Forces Equipment
Sir, - The Minister for Defence's recent pronouncement that the "Celtic Tiger needs more claws" overlooks the obvious fact that claws are no good unless there is muscle with which to operate them. By this I mean that successive governments have consistently deprived the Irish armed forces of even the most modest scales of equipment.
Much of that which is now held is seriously out of date - the average age of the Air Corps fleet is 24 years! The three Brigade Group structure is seriously short on armour, artillery and air defence assets. The Government's stated aim of being able to place a battalion group "seamlessly" into a multinational brigade for international peacekeeping purposes by the end of 2003 will ring hollow unless even the most modest re-equipment programme is initiated now. With the present buoyancy of the Irish economy the parsimony of the last few decades in this regard can be easily remedied! - Yours, etc.,
Christopher Dorman O'Gowan, Broad Chare, Newcastle Upon Tyne, England.