101. Deputy Jack Chambers asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the estimated savings that would be made in terms of training and recruitment if the numbers leaving the Permanent Defence Force in 2018 for reasons other than retirement were halved relative to 2017; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 19819/18 asked on 08 May 2018)

Minister of State at the Department of the Taoiseach (Deputy Paul Kehoe): I propose to take Questions Nos. 99 to 101, inclusive, together.

Given the unique and demanding nature of military life, there is understandably a relatively high level of turnover among Defence Forces personnel. This is not new and the Permanent Defence Force has always had a level of turnover that far exceeds other areas of the public service. This is a necessary feature of military organisations and allows for continuous renewal, promotions etc.

The table below sets out the numbers leaving for each of the years from 2002 to 2017.

- 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
LT GEN 0 0 1 0 0 1 0 1 1 0 0 1 0 1 0 0
MAJ GEN 1 0 1 1 0 0 0 1 0 1 0 0 0 1 0 0
BRIG GEN 3 2 0 1 2 1 1 3 1 1 2 1 2 2 1 3
COL 2 6 5 5 5 9 1 14 5 7 8 3 8 2 9 8
LT COL 13 7 6 10 6 12 13 18 17 10 16 12 16 12 12 16
COMDT 20 19 12 19 27 28 26 33 21 38 31 20 28 22 35 23
CAPT 13 6 9 10 10 9 7 10 11 13 11 20 19 30 21 20
LT 6 1 3 7 2 3 1 2 0 4 2 2 8 5 2 6
Officers 58 41 37 53 52 63 49 82 56 74 70 59 81 75 80 76
SGT MAJOR 4 4 6 11 6 6 4 9 4 3 7 0 5 1 3 8
BQMS 9 2 4 2 7 7 1 12 7 8 2 1 5 3 1 9
CS/FS/BS 18 16 22 9 16 28 16 22 32 26 36 11 19 20 25 21
CQMS/FQMS 12 15 13 14 22 19 20 24 26 26 38 14 13 11 15 19
SGT 86 67 76 54 75 60 73 93 70 84 117 52 44 73 97 71
CPL 90 80 62 60 68 85 70 59 82 79 110 55 39 70 47 57
PTE 3 * 297 217 162 174 215 193 131 164 208 271 258 147 141 217 218 237
Other Ranks 516 401 345 324 409 398 315 383 429 497 568 280 266 395 406 422
CADET 8 6 9 5 8 7 2 2 3 5 4 2 4 8 7 12
PTE 2 * 35 20 12 33 24 28 28 12 8 9 10 19 13 12 32 24
APPRENTICE 3 4 3 3 8 3 0 3 1 0 0 0 1 0 4 2
GRADE 1 112 107 138 110 88 150 149 7 2 56 111 85 104 66 126 171
In Initial Training 158 137 162 151 128 188 179 24 14 70 125 106 122 86 169 209
Total 732 579 544 528 589 649 543 489 499 641 763 445 469 556 655 707

Discharges from the Defence Forces are recorded under a number of headings without a specific definition of retirement which can be either voluntary or involuntary. The headings range from “at their own request”, purchase of discharge, end of contract or reaching age limits.

The figure of €15 million reported by the media is an estimate, provided by the military authorities, of the cost of training the same number of personnel as those who left voluntarily in 2016. The majority of the estimated cost is the pay of those individuals being trained and the pay of their training staff. There is significant scope for misinterpretation of such cost estimates and it is not accurate to infer that the level of savings reported by the media would occur within the Vote if this number of personnel did not leave the Defence Forces.

As the long terms trends illustrate, departure rates at half the level of those of 2017 have not occurred in the period since 2002. Accordingly, the Department of Defence has not engaged in an estimate of savings for this eventuality.