6. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the estimated full year cost of increasing the number of personnel in the Reserve Defence Forces from 2,050 to 4,100; his plans to increase the Reserve; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 12119/18 asked on 20 Mar 2018)
Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): The White Paper on Defence sets out a developmental path for the Reserve Defence Forces (RDF). It provides that for an overall establishment of the Army Reserve and Naval Service Reserve of 4,169 personnel, which will be achieved by increasing the Naval Service Reserve establishment from 200 to 300 personnel. Currently, the establishment for the RDF is 4,069 personnel.
The current strength of the RDF, as of 31 January 2018, is 2,058 personnel (1,777 effective).
Subhead A.5 provides for a budget of €2.115M for paid training of RDF personnel. This budget is sufficient having regard to the current strength of the RDF.
An RDF General Service Recruitment campaign was launched on 26 July 2017 for a period of 6 weeks. A total of 1,221 applications were received (of which 162 were from females). A total of 139 new recruits were inducted to the RDF in 2017 (10 females) as follows:
- Army Reserve: 117 recruits (8 females)
- Naval Service Reserve: 22 recruits (2 females).
Given the competing recruitment demands at present, where PDF recruitment is and should remain a priority, recruitment to the Reserve will continue. It is currently planned to hold a General Service Recruitment Campaign to the RDF in April / May 2018.
However, it should be noted that the same personnel and resources are utilised for both Permanent and Reserve Defence Force recruitment.
The significant issue in relation to increasing the number of personnel in the Reserve Defence Force is not one of financial resources but one of attracting and training sufficient personnel.