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Ireland - Military Spending

The economic downturn and its associated impact on the public finances has required firm and decisive action by Government. The Programme for Government sets out the objective of reaching the 3% of GDP target for the General Government Deficit by the target date of 2015. Achieving the 3% of GDP deficit target will be seen as an intermediate step in the process of restoring the public finances, and further reductions in the General Government Deficit as a share of national income will be required thereafter. This will require a flexible and adaptive approach from all public organisations including transformation in the delivery of public services.

In any given calendar year up to 2,000 personnel are either overseas, preparing to deploy or returning from a tour of duty. The White Paper in 2000 specified a strength of 10,500 for the Defence Forces and provided for an additional 250 personnel in training at any one time. The White Paper directed the Chief of Staff to produce a plan to implement the required reduction (from 11,500) and this was achieved. In June 2003, as part of the Governments measures to reduce public service numbers, the authority to have the additional 250 personnel in training was withdrawn. In July 2003, the Government decided that public service numbers should be reduced by 5,000 over three (3) years. The required reduction for the Defence organisation was 416, with 250 coming from the Defence Forces, 150 from civilians employed with the Defence Forces and 16 civil servants in the Department of Defence. The reductions were fully implemented by the end of 2005.

The achievement and maintenance of a 70: 30 pay to non-pay ratio in the expenditure on defence was identified by the 2000 White Paper as critical to ensuring a sustainable defence capability. The reallocation of payroll savings from the reduction in strength of the PDF and the reinvestment of the proceeds of the sale of Defence property have contributed to the achievement of the results set out in the table below. This rebalancing has allowed the development of a significant planned programme of infrastructural improvement and defence equipment procurement. Approximately 200 million in pay savings and 95 million from sales of properties have accrued between 2000 and 2006.

The report of the Special Group on Public Sector Numbers and Expenditure Programmes (July 2009) clearly highlights the fact that the Defence Organisation was unique in the public sector, having reduced in size over the period from 2001. In their report, the Group acknowledged the ongoing reform in the Defence Organisation. That report recommended a further reduction in numbers of 20 Departmental staff and 500 Permanent Defence Force personnel, over a period of two to three years. This recommended reduction has been achieved.

The Public Service Agreement 2010 2014 (Croke Park Agreement) contains elements relevant to both the civil and military elements of the Defence Organisation. It acknowledges the major process of change, modernisation and transformation which has been underway in the Defence Organisation since the 1990s. The associated Defence Sector Agreement is designed to ensure that the Defence Forces remains fit for purpose and will be able to continue to fulfil all of its functions. Action Plans under the Agreement are in place for both the civil and military element of the organisation and the ambitious targets in these plans are being met.

The Department of Defence will continue to cooperate fully with central initiatives under the Public Service reform agenda in the area of shared services. The Department currently provides financial shared services to the Defence sector and has a long experience and an excellent track record in the provision of such services. The Department is participating in a study group, led by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.

A major process of change, modernisation and transformation has been ongoing within the Defence Organisation since the 1990s. This process was continued through the White Paper on Defence (2000) and successive social partnership agreements. The organisation has delivered a significant reduction in the numbers of civil servants, military personnel and civilian employees over this period. The rationalisation of military installations has continued. This modernisation program within Defence has led to improved operational outputs. In respect of the Army, it has been able to deploy, sustain and maintain concurrent forces on the most demanding of Peace Support Operations in the most austere environments. The Naval Service patrol day outputs have increased significantly after the Naval Service Reorganisation. The Air Corps contribution to the provision of services in ATCP and ATCA has also increased.

Arising from the 2011 Comprehensive Review of Expenditure, the Government decided to maintain the strength of the Permanent Defence Force at 9,500. This is to ensure that the Defence Forces retain the capacity to fulfil all roles assigned to the greatest extent possible.

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