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2010 ESTIMATES FOR DEFENCE
AND ARMY PENSIONS
AND ANNUAL OUTPUT STATEMENT



SPEECH BY THE MINISTER FOR DEFENCE

MR. TONY KILLEEN, T.D.,

BEFORE THE SELECT COMMITTEE ON

JUSTICE, EQUALITY, DEFENCE

AND WOMEN’S RIGHTS


Thursday, 17 June 2010.

Chairman, Members
I am pleased to appear before the Committee today for its consideration of the Defence and Army Pensions Estimates and the Defence Annual Output Statement for 2010.

Annual Output Statement
The Annual Output Statement describes the joint outputs of the civil and military elements of the Defence Organisation. The statement for 2010 contains information on performance for 2009 and targets for 2010. It matches financial and staffing resources to key outputs for each year. The same Defence capabilities are utilised to produce outputs in support of multiple objectives across differing programme headings. The outputs reflect the demands placed, or likely to be placed, on the Defence Organisation.

The outturn cost for programmes in 2009 is based on the actual activity throughout that year. The estimated 2010 cost shown for each programme in the Output Statement reflects the anticipated activity at the beginning of this year. Consequently, changes in projected activity levels that occur during the course of 2010, such as the earlier than anticipated withdrawal from Chad, are not reflected in the 2010 estimated programme costs. The outturn for each programme in 2010 will be based on actual activity during 2010 and will be reported in next year’s Output Statement

Combined estimates provision etc
The combined Estimates for Defence and Army Pensions for 2010 provide for gross expenditure of some €965 million, including €1 million by way of capital carryover. This compares with actual expenditure in 2009 of €1,013 million, including capital carryover of €3 million. The Defence estimate broadly reflects the reductions in expenditure as recommended by the Special Group on Public Service Numbers and Expenditure Programmes.

The prevailing economic environment and the associated resource constraints have impacted on the entire Defence Organisation. The financial situation is such that it is not possible to provide the level of resourcing that was previously available. I am pleased to say that the Defence Forces are in a healthy state to meet the challenges posed by the reduced financial allocations. They have improved in every respect since 2000. Comprehensive reform of structure and human resources, together with significant investment in infrastructure and equipment, has been achieved during the past ten years.

It is clear that 2011 will be another difficult year and that further significant reductions in public spending will be required. Based on my own first-hand experience since my appointment as Minister for Defence, I have every confidence that the Defence Organisation will rise to this challenge. The challenge of “doing more with less” faces the entire public service. Defence has a proud record of achievement in this area and serves as a model for other sectors. I would like to put on record my thanks to all members of the Defence Organisation for their contribution to this success story.

Strengths, recruitment, etc
The Defence Estimate includes provision for the pay and allowances of up to 10,000 Permanent Defence Force personnel, 770 civilians employed with the Defence Forces throughout the country and some 360 civil service staff. It also provides for the pay of members of the Reserve while on full-time training. The Army Pensions Estimate provides for the payment of over 10,000 service-related pensions and about 1,100 disability related benefits to former members of the Defence Forces and their spouses and children.

I am advised by the Military Authorities that the strength of the Permanent Defence Force as at 31 May 2010 was 9,809. Within the available resources, the Government is committed to maintaining the strength of the Permanent Defence Force at a level of 10,000 all ranks, for which Government approval was secured in the context of Budget 2010. This reflects the reductions in personnel recommended in the Report of the Special Group on Public Service Numbers and Expenditure Programmes.

Departmental officials are currently engaged with the military authorities in a review of the structures and posts required to meet the operational requirements of the Permanent Defence Force within the reduced numbers. Following on from this review, discussions will commence this month with the Department of Finance to agree an Employment Control Framework for the Defence Forces, which is sustainable within a figure of 10,000 personnel in the Permanent Defence Force.
In relation to recruitment, I have recently approved the recruitment of 40 recruits to the Naval Service. In addition, some limited general service recruitment to the Army will be advertised shortly.

While these are challenging times, my priority is to ensure that the Defence Forces are organised, equipped and staffed in a manner which will ensure that they can continue to deliver the services required of them by Government.

New White Paper
As indicated in the Renewed Programme for Government, a new White Paper on Defence will be prepared for the period 2011 to 2020. It is planned to submit a draft White Paper for Government approval in spring 2011. This new White Paper will build upon the first White Paper on Defence, published in 2000. This has guided the modernisation, reform and transformation of the Defence Organisation during the past decade.

The new White Paper will chart a course for the continued development of the Defence Organisation. It will be instrumental in guiding successive strategy statements.

Preliminary work has commenced and I intend bringing a memorandum to Government in the near future. This will outline the proposed approach in advance of formally launching the process.


Equipment and infrastructure
There has been very significant investment in equipment and infrastructure in the Defence Forces over the past ten years. Since taking up my brief as Minister I have seen at first hand the fruits of that investment and indeed the modern equipment available to Irish soldiers is now second to none. The acquisition of new equipment for the Defence Forces is, of course, a priority for me and a matter that will be kept under continuous review.

However, it is imperative that the Department and the Defence Forces look to whatever efficiencies we can make taking into account the current difficult economic environment and the overall financial envelope available for military equipment over the coming years. The budgetary situation will dictate the level of funding available for new equipment and upgrades in that period and decisions will be made accordingly. In that context the acquisition of Defensive Equipment will be on a prioritised basis to match operational capabilities and requirements.

Several important equipment purchases are being advanced in 2010 including the acquisition of 27 Light Tactical Armoured Vehicles (LTAVs), 45 (¾ Ton) 4 x 4 patrol vehicles and 2 Heavy Recovery Vehicles for the Defence Forces. Other transport related acquisitions scheduled this year include 22 Minibuses, 2 ambulances and 4 midi-coaches for troop transportation. In addition, funding is provided on a continuous basis for the required maintenance of the vehicles in the military transport fleet.


With regard to the LTAV’s, their acquisition has been a top priority for the Defence Forces given the extensive nature of their roles on overseas Peace Support Missions, the threat from improvised explosive devices and the potential for hostile fire in certain threat environments. Force protection remains a key issue in overseas peace support operations and it is very important that vehicles such as these are available to our personnel for future missions when they arise. The contract for the supply of the 27 LTAVs was awarded to BAE Systems based in South Africa in December 2008. The delivery of the first 17 vehicles has recently taken place. The other 10 vehicles will be delivered by the beginning of August 2010.

NS Vessel replacement
The Naval Service vessel replacement programme has been in progress following the commencement of a tender competition in 2007. The competition sought tenders for the purchase of two Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPVs), with an option for a third, and one Extended Patrol Vessel (EPV), with an option for a second.

As regards the OPVs, a preferred bidder was selected last year following tender evaluation and contract negotiations have taken place. The Vessel Replacement Programme was considered as part of the Estimates and budgetary process for 2010. This included consideration of the report of the Special Group on Public Service Numbers and Expenditure Programmes. In that regard, the particular recommendation in the Report of the Special Group was that the Programme be extended over a longer timeframe than initially envisaged. Subject to funding approval being granted, delivery of the new vessels would now be expected to commence on a phased basis from 2014.

The acquisition of new ships for the Naval Service is a key focus for me as Minister for Defence. Modern new vessels are necessary to ensure that the Naval Service will be fully equipped to carry out its day to day roles in enforcing the State’s sovereign rights over our waters and our fisheries and meeting Ireland’s obligations in the area of maritime safety and security and fisheries protection.

Infrastructure
As I said earlier, along with the extensive investment in Defence Forces Equipment, we have also made substantial investment in infrastructure, accommodation and training facilities. Major projects were completed in various locations in 2009, including McKee Barracks, Dublin; Casement Aerodrome, Baldonnel; Naval Base, Haulbowline and Renmore Barracks, Galway. This investment programme is continuing in 2010. Major projects are underway or due to start this year in a number of other locations, including the Defence Forces Training Centre in the Curragh; Collins Barracks, Cork and Finner Camp, Co. Donegal.

RDF

Turning now to the Reserve Defence Force, the White Paper on Defence 2000 outlined the blueprint for the Reserve Defence Force. The RDF Review Implementation Plan has provided for the phased enhancement of Reserve capabilities over the period to the end of 2009. As we have reached the end of the plan timeframe, there is a requirement to review progress and chart the future direction of the Reserve.

A Value for Money Review of the Reserve Defence Force commenced in February 2010 and is ongoing. The Steering Committee have informed me that they will be engaging in stakeholder consultation over the coming weeks and months. The Reserve Defence Force Representative Association as a key stakeholder will, of course, be involved in the consultative process. It is anticipated that this review, coupled with the lessons learned from the implementation plan, will inform the development of future plans for the Reserve. This will complement the process for the development of a new White Paper on Defence, which I referred to earlier.


EU etc
I would now like to refer to developments in the area of the EU’s security and defence policy. With the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty on 1 December 2009, the EU’s European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP) has been renamed the EU’s Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP). CSDP is an integral part of the EU’s Common Foreign and Security Policy, which encompasses the EU's international obligations to the maintenance of international peace and security.

Ireland’s participation in the framework of CSDP takes place within the context of our commitment to the primacy of the United Nations in the maintenance of international peace and security. Within that framework, the ambition of the EU is to be able to respond rapidly to emerging crises and this continues to be a key objective of the development of the Common Security and Defence Policy.

Ireland’s participation in the development and evolution of CSDP is fully consistent with our policy of military neutrality and our commitment to international peace and security. It also serves to enhance our position on the international stage as it is aimed primarily at conflict prevention, peacekeeping, humanitarian missions and crisis management.

Whilst the Lisbon Treaty makes some amendments to existing provisions on security and defence, it does not alter their essential features. It is appropriate to mention at this time, that Ireland’s traditional policy on military neutrality is completely unaffected by the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty. Firstly the Lisbon Treaty states that “national security remains the sole responsibility of each member state”. Secondly, all decisions on CSDP must be taken by unanimity, which means Ireland has a veto on CSDP issues. The Lisbon Treaty does provide for a common defence arrangement. However, the adoption of such an arrangement would require the unanimous approval of all the Member States. As we are all aware, Ireland remains constitutionally debarred from participation in an EU common defence, without the prior consent of the people in a specific referendum on this issue.

The main priority in the area of CSDP is the continued improvement of the EU’s capability to undertake the agreed range of tasks to meet the objectives of the 2010 Headline Goal (HG2010). The most high profile aspect of HG2010 was undoubtedly the decision of the EU to acquire the capacity to deploy force packages at high readiness - commonly known as Battlegroups - in response to a crisis. The EU achieved Full Operational Capacity to undertake two Battlegroup-sized rapid response operations concurrently, on 1 January 2007.

In 2009, the Government approved Ireland’s participation in the Nordic Battlegroup (NBG) 2011. Other contributors to the Nordic Battlegroup are Sweden, acting as Framework Nation, Finland, Norway and Estonia. The NBG will be on standby for 6 months commencing 1st January 2011. Sweden as framework nation will take the lead role in the NBG formation as they did in the 2008 Battlegroup. Approximately 150 Defence Forces personnel will be involved in the NBG 2011. However, this level of resource commitment will only arise should the Battlegroup be called on to undertake an operation. The number of personnel involved leading up to and during the standby period, where the Battlegroup has not been mobilised to undertake an operation, will be in the order of approximately 15 personnel. These personnel, mainly staff officers and NCOs engaged in training and planning activities, will be split between the respective Operational and Force Headquarters.

Ireland’s participation in Battlegroups is a further development in the capabilities of the Defence Forces and reflects Ireland’s desire to be able to respond across the whole spectrum of operations in support of, and in response to, requests from the UN for capable and interoperable forces.

Ireland continues to participate in the framework of the European Defence Agency. It is important to note that such participation does not impose any specific obligations on Ireland other than a contribution to the budget of the Agency. As part of the Lisbon Treaty package it was agreed that participation by Ireland in any specific project or programme of the agency would be subject to Government and Dáil approval. This requirement was enacted into legislation in the Defence (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009.

Overseas Missions
I would now like to refer to Ireland’s commitment to overseas operations. A key element of Ireland’s contribution to international peace and security is the commitment of personnel to international peace support operations under a UN mandate. Ireland is currently contributing 167 Defence Forces personnel to 12 different missions throughout the world. Our current contribution to overseas missions has reduced dramatically when compared with the 1st January 2010 figure of 758 Defence Forces personnel deployed overseas. This reduction is due primarily to the withdrawal in May of approximately 400 Irish personnel serving with the MINURCAT mission in Chad and the Central African Republic. In addition, Ireland’s contribution to the NATO-led International Security presence (KFOR) in Kosovo was reduced in April 2010 following the drawdown of Irish personnel from 232 personnel to approximately 40.

The reduction in Ireland’s participation in KFOR was designed to deliver savings in line with the recommendations of the Special Group on Public Service Numbers and Expenditure Programmes and as an alternative to a withdrawal from the United Nations operation in Chad and the Central African Republic (MINURCAT). Unfortunately, due to a lack of clarity regarding the future of this mission and the renewal of the mandate beyond May 2010, combined with the onset of the rainy season in Chad, I sought and obtained Government approval for the withdrawal of our troops from this mission. From Ireland’s perspective, early termination of the MINURCAT mission was regrettably an undesirable development, as we had planned on being in Chad until March 2012. This was not a decision we wanted to have to make and my absolute preference at the time would have been to continue to fully participate in the MINURCAT mission.
However, events since then have reinforced the decision made by the Irish Government - on 25 May 2010, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted a new resolution on the situation in Chad, the Central African Republic and the sub-region. As I understand it, the character of the MINURCAT mission has also changed significantly - under the new mandate, the Government of Chad assumes full responsibility for the protection of civilians, a responsibility that was originally assigned to the military component of the MINURCAT mission. It is my considered view that the future role for this mission, with the absence of any civilian protection remit, by the UN Force, creates an unsatisfactory situation on the ground and is not the type of mission in which Ireland would wish to participate. The whole thrust of our participation in crisis management operations is to contribute to the development of a safe and secure environment for refugees and displaced persons and to facilitate the free movement of humanitarian workers, NGOs and the UN.

It had also been decided to drawdown in July 2010, the Defence Forces contingent serving with EUFOR’s Operation ALTHEA in Bosnia and Herzegovina. This was based on an expectation that the transition of the EUFOR mission to a training and support mission would be well in train by that time. However, the transition to a smaller training and support mission is not now expected to be completed until December 2010. Following a request by EUFOR’s Operation Commander to maintain the Irish contingent with the mission until year end, I have decided to defer the drawdown of the Irish contingent from this EU-led mission until the end of 2010.

Our latest contribution to an overseas mission has been the deployment, in April 2010, of five members of the Permanent Defence Force for service with the EU Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) military mission – based in Uganda. The objective of this mission, which was launched on 7 April 2010, is to contribute to the training of Somali Security Forces (EUTM Somalia).
With regard to future deployments, Ireland receives requests from time to time in relation to participation in various missions. These are considered on a case-by-case basis. When considering any particular request, the existence of realistic objectives and a clear mandate which has the potential to contribute to a political solution, consideration of how the mission relates to the priorities of Irish foreign policy and the degree of risk involved are amongst the many factors taken into account. There are no such requests on hand at the present time.

OEP
I would like to update the Committee on the Office of Emergency Planning in my Department. The Government Task Force on Emergency Planning, continues to meet regularly. The Task Force comprises Ministers and/or senior officials from all government departments and key public authorities and its role is to improve coordination of emergency planning across government and to share information and best practice.

The issues addressed by the Task Force in the past year include influenza pandemic, aviation security, the severe weather events that occurred in late 2009 and early 2010, and the volcanic ash plume crisis. Every meeting of the Task Force receives an update from the Chair of the National Steering Group on the implementation of the Framework for Major Emergency Management. The Task Force also receives regular reports of the security threat analysis from An Garda Síochána and the Defence Forces.


The Office of the Emergency Planning supports the Minister for Defence, who chairs the Government Task Force. It also manages the National Emergency Coordination Centre. The primary function of the Centre is to provide a facility in which Ministers and/or senior officials can meet to co-ordinate the strategic response to a major emergency. The Centre has been used extensively during the past year.

Oversight is an important part of the work of the Office of Emergency Planning. Each year the Minister submits an Annual Report to Government on Emergency Planning that provides a summary of the most significant issues that arose during that period. Every year, the Office of Emergency Planning carries out bi-lateral meetings with all departments to discuss their emergency planning activities and this helps to provide the Report with an overview of the main developments in this area.

Decentralisation
I am pleased to advise the Committee that the new building to house the Department of Defence in Newbridge is expected to be ready for occupation in the coming months. Approximately 180 civil servants and 50 military personnel will relocate to Newbridge as part of the decentralisation programme. Almost all staff are now in place in anticipation of the move.

In light of budgetary constraints, members will be aware that the Government decided to defer proceeding with the new building for Defence Forces Headquarters at the Curragh. This location, along with a number of other deferred locations, will be considered as part of the overall review of the decentralisation programme to be undertaken in 2011.

Conclusion
Material on the individual subheads for both the Defence and Army Pensions Estimates has been circulated to Committee members. Accordingly, I do not propose to comment any further on individual subheads at this stage. I commend both Estimates to the Committee and will be happy to respond to any questions that members may have.



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