The modernization in structure and massive investment in equipment and infrastructure over the past twelve years means the Defence Force organisation is well capable of withstanding a reduction of EUR 30m in Defence spending, approx EUR 10million of which is achieved by the Chad mission re-hatting to UN leadership.
Several important equipment purchases will continue including the acquisition of Light Tactical Armoured Vehicles and the advancement of Naval Vessel Procurement Plan.
The Defence Forces will continue their important overseas peace support duties. We currently have 760 personnel serving on 14 overseas missions. Here at home “Aid to the Civil Power” functions will also continue. In 2008 the Defence Forces performed: 2,202 Cash in Transit Escorts, 180 Explosive Ordnance Disposal call-outs, 118 Prisoner Escorts and 732 Public Building Patrols.’
A large portion of the money we can save this year is due to the changeover of the peace support mission in Chad to UN command. While the remaining savings in spending will cause some difficulties for Defence Force management, they have shown their capacity to adapt and change and I have no doubt they will do so now. The savings made now are part of overall savings in public sector spending designed to ensure that the Irish economy is ready to respond and benefit quickly from the upturn in the global economy when it comes.
The Defence Forces benefited from the growth in the economy in the past decade and will do so again when we return to growth over the years ahead. I am aware however that the moratorium on recruitment will come as a disappointment to the hundreds of well-qualified young men and women who seek exciting and rewarding careers in the Defence Forces.
The reduction in Defence current expenditure is mainly due to the following factors:
- Reduced costs of the Chad mission consequent on its changeover to a UN mission from March 2009 – approximately EUR 10million.
- Prioritizing of the building and refurbishment programme for the remainder of 2009
- Saving approx EUR 6 million on new building and EUR 3 million on refurbishment. Over EUR 400 million has been spent on upgrading barracks, buildings and infrastructure across the Defence Forces since 1997.
- Pay and allowances – approx EUR 4million
- Reduced fuel and utility costs – approx EUR 2million
- The remainder to be achieved by the implementation of economies across the Defence organization, i.e. savings on transport costs, recruitment advertising etc.