DEFENCE MINISTER ALAN Shatter is to cut the number of personnel of the Reserve Defence Force and reduce its funding by 50 per cent as a result of a Value for Money review.
The strength of the Army Reserve and Naval Service Reserve will be reduced from its current 4,500 personnel to 4,069. It is understood that this will be achieved through natural turnover.
The changes come as a new ‘Single Force’ concept is introduced, rather than a separate stand-alone Reserve. As part of that reorganisation, 32 RDF locations will close, something which has been described as “regrettable” by the Minister. Just 16 locations, external to Permanent Defence Force barracks, will be retained. All other units will be accommodated in the existing barracks.
The number of permanent personnel available to work full-time with the Army Reserve and Naval Service Reserve will be reduced from the current 261 to 57.
The Steering Committee, which carried out the review, also recommended that members are no long paid gratuities. In the past, personnel received an average of €352 for participating in a mix of paid and unpaid training days. That €0.9 million will now be allocated to providing sufficient paid training days instead.
Overall, the Minister expects to save about €11 million as a result of the consolidations.
In 2008, the annual cost of maintaining the Reserve was €35.9 million. By 2011, that figure has been reduced to €23.4 million and this year’s estimate cost is €22 million.
For the past seven years, the organisational structure of the RDF has allowed for 9,692 members but that strength level has never been attained during that period.
Shatter said the changes set out a more “realistic and viable” future for the Reserve, giving members more opportunities to give practical assistance in a voluntary, unpaid capacity.
The review team, which included members of the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, found that many personnel had not been fulfilling the necessary training days to maintain capabilities in the recent past.
Locations of reserve components