682. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence if a new recruitment drive for the Army, Air Corps and Naval Service will commence early in 2017; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 39967/16 asked on 13 Dec 2016)

Minister of State at the Department of Defence (Deputy Paul Kehoe): The Government is committed to maintaining the stabilised strength of the Permanent Defence Force at 9,500 personnel, comprising of 7,520 Army, 886 Air Corps and 1,094 Naval Service as stated in the 2015 White Paper on Defence. I am advised by the Military Authorities that the strength of the Permanent Defence Force, at 31 October 2016, was 9,110, comprising 7,331 Army, 713 Air Corps and 1,066 Naval Service. These figures exclude 72 personnel who are on secondment/career break.

The manpower requirement of the Defence Forces is monitored on an ongoing basis in accordance with the operational requirements of each of the three services. As there is significant turnover of personnel in the Permanent Defence Force targeted recruitment has been and is currently taking place so as to maintain the agreed strength levels. An intake of approximately 600 General Services Recruits is envisaged in 2016.

It is intended that this targeted recruitment will continue in 2017, from the recruitment panels formed from the current General Service recruitment competition, launched in April 2016, until they are exhausted. Plans are being put in place to run a new General Service recruitment competition for the Army and for the Naval Service in the first quarter of 2017. Details of these competitions will be available on the Defence Forces website www.military.ie when the competitions commence. Air Corps General Service Recruits are drawn from the Army General Service Recruit campaign panels as required.

The intake of Cadets into the Permanent Defence Force is normally carried out on an annual basis, taking into consideration the operational requirements of the Defence Forces and the resource envelope allocated to Defence. It is planned to launch the 2017 Cadetship competitions in the first quarter of 2017.

Direct Entry Competitions are also held as required from which specialist appointments are filled. An Air Corps Apprentice Aircraft Technician competition was launched on 9 August 2016, from which it is planned to enlist 11 Apprentice Aircraft Technicians by the end of December 2016. It is intended to advertise a further competition in the first quarter of 2017.

With the support of the Chief of Staff and within the resources available, it is intended to retain the capacity of the Defence Forces to operate effectively across all roles and to undertake the tasks laid down by Government both at home and overseas.