245. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Defence his plans to commence a recruitment drive for the Air Corps; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Question 6635/16 asked on 14 Apr 2016)

Minister for Defence (Deputy Simon Coveney): 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 29 February 2016 (provisional figures), the latest date for which details are available, was 9146 comprising 7329 Army, 744 Air Corps and 1073 Naval Service.

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.

A General Service recruitment campaign for the Army was launched on 4 August 2015 and is ongoing and will be utilised until the panels are exhausted. Air Corps General Service Recruits are drawn, as required, from the Army General Service Recruit panels.

A new General Service recruitment campaign for the Army was launched on 13 April 2016 and Air Corps General Service Recruits will be drawn from future panels as required. The Defence Forces plan to induct just over 600 general service personnel to the Permanent Defence Force in 2016 and a further 850 personnel in 2017.

Direct Entry Competitions are also held as required from which specialist appointments are filled. It is intended to conduct a recruitment competition for 25 Trainee Military Aircraft Technicians in early 2016.

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. The 2016 Cadetship campaign is currently underway with a closing date of 17 April 2016.

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.