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Defence Review 2011-20 & Joined Up Thinking


absconded

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The Defence Review of 2011 to 2020 is underway. Very little information is available online about it and I'm wondering if any other P.ie users have some knowledge about it that they are able to share.

Heretofore, we've discussed Irish attitudes to Defence in various areas. We've had a range of views about what way Defence policy should be heading. There are the usual posters with uninformed "Armchair General" opinions who are best ignored. So here's a thread for the informed to make a comment.

One thing that's clear is that it is going to be a radically different DF in 10 years time. This will be driven by financial concerns more than anything else.

If we see an increase in the Defence budget I'd be extremely surprised. What we may see is amalgamation of state functions with more coming under the control of the Army, Naval Service & Air Corps. What we may also see is a change in allocation of the 10,500 establishment between the three organisations, with the Army suffering. With the huge availability of skills in the ranks of the unemployed due to the economic situation the RDF will be restructured to allow for more specialised units.

Army to concentrate on Internal Security duties and expand on their Civil Defence capabilities. They will probably lose three PDF Battalions and these posts will be filled with RDF personnel. Cyberwarfare, SF, Intel & Medical Corp capabilities will be strengthened.

Naval Service will gain the strength of two of those Army Battalions bringing Naval Strength to approx 2,500 from the current establishment of 1,144.
The other "small navies" of the state will all come under Naval Service authority and there will be a more joined up approach to resources in the Maritime field. The assets of these small navies will be commissioned into the Naval fleet allowing for savings in procurement, running costs and manpower to the state. Two EPVs will be ordered for entry into service around 2015.

The Air Corps will absorb the strength of one of the Army Battalions bringing its strength to around 1,500. They will acquire medium lift military helicopters and the Ministerial Air Transport service will be put out to tender.

That's my prediction. But if you have better insider information I'd be keen to read it.
 


gijoe

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I reckon we should aim at an overall PDF of circa 6,000 from today's almost 10,000. The balance between services is a matter of debate. I cannot see us requiring a Navy of 2500, but I can see a need of moving away from corvette and line vessels to fast attack/interception craft deployed along the coast. For the Aer Corps I think it is time to sh1t or get off the potty - either give them a fleet of modern fighters or just fold the Aer Corps into the Army as a helicopter lift wing. Saab are coming out with a new generation of Grippens that would suit the Aer Corps down to the ground. Also the government taxi service role needs to be ditched.

For the Army themselves that should mean a full-time army element of just 4-4,500. This should then be supplemented by a strong, well trained reserve of circa 10-15,000 whose members can be co-opted into the PDF on short-term contracts, mainly for domestic roles, as need arises if the PDF finds itself stretched in foreign deployments.

That to my mind is the Defence Force I would envision Ireland being capable of supplying into the future.

PS if the debate is left to a bunch of Colonels or Generals, as I suspect will happen, then there is no way that these people are going to vote for Christmas by talking themselves out of promotions that a streamlined Defence Force will entail.
 

absconded

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I reckon we should aim at an overall PDF of circa 6,000 from today's almost 10,000. The balance between services is a matter of debate. I cannot see us requiring a Navy of 2500, but I can see a need of moving away from corvette and line vessels to fast attack/interception craft deployed along the coast. For the Aer Corps I think it is time to sh1t or get off the potty - either give them a fleet of modern fighters or just fold the Aer Corps into the Army as a helicopter lift wing. Saab are coming out with a new generation of Grippens that would suit the Aer Corps down to the ground. Also the government taxi service role needs to be ditched.

For the Army themselves that should mean a full-time army element of just 4-4,500. This should then be supplemented by a strong, well trained reserve of circa 10-15,000 whose members can be co-opted into the PDF on short-term contracts, mainly for domestic roles, as need arises if the PDF finds itself stretched in foreign deployments.

That to my mind is the Defence Force I would envision Ireland being capable of supplying into the future.

PS if the debate is left to a bunch of Colonels or Generals, as I suspect will happen, then there is no way that these people are going to vote for Christmas by talking themselves out of promotions that a streamlined Defence Force will entail.
Sadly for the Army I think you are correct, they have shot themselves in the foot in the eyes of DOD in recent years regarding the difficulty in getting certain sections to serve overseas, most notably the Commandant rank of line Officers. By predicting that they only lose a Brigade I was being generous.

The NS have consistantly maintained their high targets and have shown themselves to be very "can-do" under the current and previous FOCNS. The tight manpower numbers mean that with even the absence of a few personnel with key skills they are likely to have ships tied up. They require a larger establishment than exists to allow for key personnel in training. The absorbtion of the smaller navies of the state will also require more personnel. The EPVs will require a larger critical mass of personnel in advance of their arrival, and that's why I see the NS more than doubling in size as the Army slims down, but at no additional cost to the DOD while giving more value to the taxpayer. 2,500 would not be terribly high by international standards. The current 1,144 level is certainly too low.

The AC with recent promotion of their GOC is seen as being set for expansion. But I doubt it will be with strike fighters. I see them expanding with helis to support the Army. Helicopters being a Force Multiplier type thing.

I agree on the RDF expansion/enhancement.
 

gijoe

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The AC with recent promotion of their GOC is seen as being set for expansion. But I doubt it will be with strike fighters. I see them expanding with helis to support the Army. Helicopters being a Force Multiplier type thing.
In which case I do not think you can justify an independent AC as a separate service. If it becomes just a helicopter wing then merging into an integrated Army command as a support unit makes sense.
 

absconded

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In which case I do not think you can justify an independent AC as a separate service. If it becomes just a helicopter wing then merging into an integrated Army command as a support unit makes sense.
In this regard, the AC are no different to the RAF in the UK. They will always be a service provider to the Army. But so are the NS in some respects. There exists a requirement for a specialised military air wing in the DF. There are some things which a COS from an Army line background will never fully understand or appreciate. In my opinion the loss of heli SAR as an AC role was a huge and costly mistake. Spending hundreds of millions of euros on a commercial service that will provide no hardware or expertise legacy for the state was an error.

Tne NS doesn't have a role for fast intercept craft anywhere other than maybe the Irish Sea. On the Atlantic coast whats really needed for most of the year is vessels of minimum 2,000 Tonnes and sprint speeds of c.25 knots. Small vessels will just end up weatherbound in Blacksod Bay and Lawrences Cove?
 

gijoe

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In my opinion the loss of heli SAR as an AC role was a huge and costly mistake. Spending hundreds of millions of euros on a commercial service that will provide no hardware or expertise legacy for the state was an error.
But it made financial sense. By privatising the SAR role the State can dramatically cut long-term costs because it is not paying the pensions for hundreds of people who can retire after 21/30 years service, depending on when they entered service. There was a lot of moaning on the radio about the €500million cost of the 10 year SAR contract awarded recently. In fact I heard a retired AC Comdt on Matt Cooper decrying it. During the interview we learned that he retired after 23 years service. So that Comdt probably retired in his mid-40's at half pay of circa €35k per annum which we will be paying for the next 30-40 years. And that Comdt was then wondering how it made financial sense to be spending €50million a year privatising the SAR service? Give me a break!!
 

nonpartyboy

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PS if the debate is left to a bunch of Colonels or Generals, as I suspect will happen, then there is no way that these people are going to vote for Christmas by talking themselves out of promotions that a streamlined Defence Force will entail.
You have just summed up the entire public/civil service , army , navy , aer corps , gardai , fire service , county council , hse and every other state funded body you could care to mention.
MANAGEMENT don't want change, cutting services or outsourcing at huge cost to the taxpayer is the only answer these people have. "Change , Change !! us change, My dear god never, my dear boy !"
 

absconded

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But it made financial sense. By privatising the SAR role the State can dramatically cut long-term costs because it is not paying the pensions for hundreds of people who can retire after 21/30 years service, depending on when they entered service. There was a lot of moaning on the radio about the €500million cost of the 10 year SAR contract awarded recently. In fact I heard a retired AC Comdt on Matt Cooper decrying it. During the interview we learned that he retired after 23 years service. So that Comdt probably retired in his mid-40's at half pay of circa €35k per annum which we will be paying for the next 30-40 years. And that Comdt was then wondering how it made financial sense to be spending €50million a year privatising the SAR service? Give me a break!!
That's all accepted, but it must be pointed out that that pension scheme doesn't apply to anyone inducted in the last 10 years. So new pilots and aircrews are not going to be retiring in their forties and drawing huge pensions forever. I didn't hear the interview but the Commandant was probably right in light of that fact.

Spending €500 million on the AC would give the State a small fleet of exceptional aircraft and crews that would last well past the contract period of 10 years.

When you see the expenditure on the States small navies you get the same picture.

Genuinely there needs to be some joined up thinking in this Defence Review. It's ridiculous to look at Defence expenditure as being purely an Army affair. Funding from govt currently going to Coastguard & maritime duties needs to be allocated to the DF. And manpower within the DF needs to be focussed towards Coastguard functions. It's not a matter of spending more money. It's a matter of spending whats currently being spent in a more sensible way.
 

Dohville

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I reckon we should aim at an overall PDF of circa 6,000 from today's almost 10,000. The balance between services is a matter of debate. I cannot see us requiring a Navy of 2500, but I can see a need of moving away from corvette and line vessels to fast attack/interception craft deployed along the coast. For the Aer Corps I think it is time to sh1t or get off the potty - either give them a fleet of modern fighters or just fold the Aer Corps into the Army as a helicopter lift wing. Saab are coming out with a new generation of Grippens that would suit the Aer Corps down to the ground. Also the government taxi service role needs to be ditched.

For the Army themselves that should mean a full-time army element of just 4-4,500. This should then be supplemented by a strong, well trained reserve of circa 10-15,000 whose members can be co-opted into the PDF on short-term contracts, mainly for domestic roles, as need arises if the PDF finds itself stretched in foreign deployments.

That to my mind is the Defence Force I would envision Ireland being capable of supplying into the future.

PS if the debate is left to a bunch of Colonels or Generals, as I suspect will happen, then there is no way that these people are going to vote for Christmas by talking themselves out of promotions that a streamlined Defence Force will entail.
I have to take issue with your post. It is clear you are unfamiliar with the role of the defence forces, you also appear unaware of things such as wind, waves and weather.
  • You suggest
    need of moving away from corvette and line vessels to fast attack/interception craft deployed along the coast..
    The opposite is the case. Fast attack/interceptor craft are useless on the west coast. Even more useless 200 miles off the west coast, where the NS does most of its work. You want larger vessels, that can stay out longer, in all weather. Fast attack are only useful in sheltered waters.
  • Secondly you mention the dreaded fighter jets for the air corps. For What? To fight who? More practical to provide the air corpse with aircraft capable of deploying overseas, or even being able to bring troops or equipment to overseas operations. And its a Gripen. We couldnt afford to buy one, never mind operate one. The priority is Maritime Patrol, and army transport. TP trainers are even a luxury we don't need. they train pilots to fly fast jets we dont have, or need.
  • The army/reserve combination you mention is fine in theory, but if the current army reserve cannot retain the 3000 or so it currently has, what hope is there to raise a strength of 15000. And what would you do with them then?

The DF pulled a master stroke recently by appointing a Non Army general(air Corps) into a senior position of Deputy Chief of Staff. He can make cuts in all the army empires that were untouched by successive army generals, who were keen to look after their own. Hopefully they will continue this by appointing an army general to wake up the Clondalkin Flying club in Baldonnel.
The Naval service, in contrast has been most progressive in being efficient with the resources the DoD provide for it. It will soon be under new leadership. Its management has pushed its members to provide the maximum availability of ships. With some of the ships over 30 years old, this has not been an easy task, but it has been achieved, and exceeded.

The rest of the DF could learn from this example.

We are an Island nation, whose only land border is with an economic ally. We do not need a large standing army. We are however surrounded by water, and have more territorial water than most european nations. The balance should be 5:3:3 and not 9:1:1 if you maintain current strength.
 

absconded

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You have just summed up the entire public/civil service , army , navy , aer corps , gardai , fire service , county council , hse and every other state funded body you could care to mention.
MANAGEMENT don't want change, cutting services or outsourcing at huge cost to the taxpayer is the only answer these people have. "Change , Change !! us change, My dear god never, my dear boy !"
I agree with you entirely, there has been entirely too much empire building. We've seen little fiefdoms springing up with little concern for the public purse or value for money. They are generally more concerned with nepotism and promotions than actually providing a service,

This is why I see the Defence Review as being a golden opportunity to cut loads of fat throughout the public service and not just within the DF. It's time for somebody who cares about national expenditure on services to stop the duplication and multiplication which has taken root. Is there genuinely a need for all the agencies we've got currently providing the same service?

Do we need the existing Coastguard?
Do we need the C&E with their own fleet of vessels?
Do we need the GS to have its own helis and boats?
Does the DOT need to be hiring vessels?
Do we need a fleet of narrow purpose research vessels?
Do we need narrow purpose Irish lights vessels?
Should we be contracting out Heli services?
Do we need 8,500 fulltime (mainly infantry) soldiers?

This is an opportunity for a grand cull and huge value for money benefits for the State.
 

cropbeye

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Excellent discussion very little with which I would disagree.
 

absconded

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The DF pulled a master stroke recently by appointing a Non Army general(air Corps) into a senior position of Deputy Chief of Staff. He can make cuts in all the army empires that were untouched by successive army generals, who were keen to look after their own. Hopefully they will continue this by appointing an army general to wake up the Clondalkin Flying club in Baldonnel.
The Naval service, in contrast has been most progressive in being efficient with the resources the DoD provide for it. It will soon be under new leadership. Its management has pushed its members to provide the maximum availability of ships. With some of the ships over 30 years old, this has not been an easy task, but it has been achieved, and exceeded.

The rest of the DF could learn from this example.

We are an Island nation, whose only land border is with an economic ally. We do not need a large standing army. We are however surrounded by water, and have more territorial water than most european nations. The balance should be 5:3:3 and not 9:1:1 if you maintain current strength.
I think it was DOD/Cabinet who pulled the Master stroke:D

But on the ratios, I'm unsure that the 5:3:3 will be an acceptable reshuffle and the alteration will have to take place over a number of years making clever use of natural wastage.

I think the figures for the Army would be too generous as you have proposed.

The public will want to see a reduction in payroll costs, and it will be required to fund investment in equipment.

4.5 : 2.5 : 1.5 would result in payroll savings of c. €50 Million per year.

This saving equates to 5 times the current operational & maintenance budget of the current Naval Service and would pay for a new EPV for the NS every two years.

Consequential national savings by not requiring the existing crews of the existing "small navies" would also run into the millions. In addition, the maintenance and running costs of the existing "small navies" mentioned earlier would certainly benefit from the streamlined procurement tools of the Naval Service.

If the increased numbers of the AC (transfers from Army) were used to run the Coastguard Service, there would be clear national payroll savings there also.

The Cabinet would have nothing to fear from these reallocations of manpower, as all reassigned personnel would still be equipped with rifles and trained to use batons and teargas. So no change to riot control capabilities of the DF.
 

Dohville

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The problem though, while I agree in principle, is when you begin amalgamating agencies, you also end up amalgamating budgets. While it is bad enough when one of tha many maritime agencies get their budget cut, at least there are others to take up the slack. If you combine them all, the cut will be much deeper.

Remember how poor out SAR service was before a private agency took it over?
The Research Ship currently operated by the state was built 20 years after it was first planned, another victim of defence spending cuts at the time.
Similarly, the military should have no involvement in policing, and that includes Flying the GASU about.

The Amalgamation is a good idea, but it should not be as wide ranging as you suggest. Some elements should remain under civilian control, while others should be pure military. More again could be a combination of both. For example, Customs maritime should travel on all Naval vessels, and the NS should operate their boats for them. The NS has the expertise to carry out much of the maintenance that would currently be carried out by civilian companies.
Fisheries agencies are another quango in my opinion. They do the same job as the NS do offshore, inshore. Everything from the coast out should be NS, everything inland by the inshore fisheries. The SFPA is an unnecessary agency, carrying out monitoring of a dying industry. Most of their work is already done by Dept of Health/Food etc.
Amalgamation of the Coastguard and NS would be surprisingly easy in my opinion, as the Coastguard has its management almost exclusively made up of retired Naval Officers who are bringing the naval way of doing things to the Coastguard.

But definitely all law enforcement on water should be a naval role. Nobody has explained to me as yet what the garda launch is for.
 

absconded

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I believe that the savings made would negate the requirement for further cuts to budgets or level of service While the NS may not desire to take over the research vessels for example, the efficiences resulting from economies of scale would be significant. It would also result in having Naval law enforcement and intelligence gathering in far more places than it currently does.
The treatment of SAR in the past was indeed a national disgrace, but the empirebuilding which has resulted in €500 Million being spent on a commercial service with no legacy to the State is obscene.
Customs boats and Garda boats were an exercise in vanity, but also a product of the government not seizing control of spending. Fisheries boats ditto. All of these "small navies" are single purpose. They all duplicate work already done by the NS, miss glaring problems not in their realm of responsibilities and to a large degree spend their time "on the hard" or tied up.

The DF in my opinion for fiscal reasons should cease to be a primarily Army orientated organisation. It needs to be, for want of better phrasiology divided into land command, sea command and air command. All three services need to be represented at General Staff level and they need to subsume roles being done inefficiently elsewhere in the public service. This combined with an overall reduction in DF numbers and the subsuming of other budgets where applicable from outside DF would result in better service and better value for money to the State.

Certainly there would be more accountability and transparancy.
 

Clanrickard

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Cyberwarfare, SF, Intel & Medical Corp capabilities will be strengthened.

The Air Corps will absorb the strength of one of the Army Battalions bringing its strength to around 1,500. They will acquire medium lift military helicopters and the Ministerial Air Transport service will be put out to tender.

That's my prediction. But if you have better insider information I'd be keen to read it.
I am not well versed on the defence end of things and as you seem to have an interest I have 2 questions

1. How are we on cyber warfare capabilities? The recent attack on Iran has certainly brought things into focus. Could we handle such an attack?

2. Is it worth having an Air Force as opposed to an Aer Corps? Could it be brought into the NS as a Fleet Air Arm? It would seem to me that most flights are over water or water related due to our Island status.
 

absconded

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I am not well versed on the defence end of things and as you seem to have an interest I have 2 questions

1. How are we on cyber warfare capabilities? The recent attack on Iran has certainly brought things into focus. Could we handle such an attack?

2. Is it worth having an Air Force as opposed to an Aer Corps? Could it be brought into the NS as a Fleet Air Arm? It would seem to me that most flights are over water or water related due to our Island status.
My understanding is that we are nowhere in the cyber defence league. The ability of a prankster or someone more committed to bring the power system, telecoms or traffic to a halt have barely been tackled. Ireland is not alone in that department. But cyber warfare is a much greater threat to a country than the risk of a conventional terrorist attack.

The AC as it stands isn't one thing or another. The Defence Review should really tackle this, and that's why I was suggesting that it really needs to be in control of more coastguard duties. But unlike in the past it should be allowed and expected to do them properly.
The need for an Air Force with an offensive posture however, does not exist.
 

absconded

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Excellent discussion very little with which I would disagree.
Thank you, it's one of the beauties of P.ie that you can have a think-in online without getting drunk and having to make an interview in the morning (although not forbidden) :D

I would be interested to hear more Army points of view.

I think this review will be a cracking example for an Island nation to finally get its Defence and Maritime policies clearly pointed in the one direction. The tinpot tokenism and disjointed approach we've seen as the State approaches it's centenary is senseless.

Defence policy for a country of our size will never involve serious force projection as it hasn't for example NZ in recent years. But certain valid functions of a Defence Forces must be addressed. Namely, control of our seas, control of our airspace and a reasonable ability to support our troops overseas and deal with all sorts of emergencies at home without having to call on our next door neighbours who have bothered to prepare for such things.

I think we have demonstrated that this can all be done within the existing budget, and a side effect would be savings in other State departments.

2011 is a good opportunity to finally get the balance right.
 

gijoe

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This might be a comparator of interest for Ireland's review. They are virtually the same scale as ours.
[ame="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Zealand_Defence_Force"]New Zealand Defence Force - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia@@AMEPARAM@@/wiki/File:NZ_Soldiers_Afghanistan_2009.jpg" class="image"><img alt="" src="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/d/d1/NZ_Soldiers_Afghanistan_2009.jpg/220px-NZ_Soldiers_Afghanistan_2009.jpg"@@AMEPARAM@@commons/thumb/d/d1/NZ_Soldiers_Afghanistan_2009.jpg/220px-NZ_Soldiers_Afghanistan_2009.jpg[/ame]

http://www.defence.govt.nz/defence-review.html
 

gijoe

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Some interesting data from NZ: Their PDF breaks down as 4500 Army; 2500 Air Force; 2000 Navy. Compared to our: 8000 Army; 1100 Navy; 800 Aer Corps.

Plus contrary to what Dohville posted above it seems that the NZ Navy is doing what I said ours should do and focus more on fast attack/interceptor vessels as it has just deployed 4 of these Protector-class inshore patrol vessel - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
 
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former wesleyan

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The army needs consolidated, not diminished. I'm quite sure that there are people who think that soldiers sit around all day doing nothing but nothing could be further from the truth.
However keeping so many barracks open isn't the wisest idea, although the time to offload them was during the property boom and not now.
For anyone interested in this debate, look for the posts of "jessop " on the IMOL board. He's ex- officer with an ability to express himself clearly on some of these matters.
As an anti-dote to the navy boys on herepetunia
 

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