For Oral Answer on : 16/05/2023
Question Number(s): 48 Question Reference(s): 22631/23
Asked by: David Stanton T.D.
To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Defence to outline the role and current strength of the First Line Reserve; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
The First Line Reserve (FLR) is intended to provide a pool of trained personnel who are available at short notice to supplement Permanent Defence Force (PDF) units in times of emergency. There is no set establishment for the FLR.
The existing regulatory framework provides for former members of the Permanent Defence Force (PDF) to join the Army Reserve or Naval Service Reserve. This is subject to their meeting certain criteria. Direct entry to the FLR is limited to personnel who are departing the PDF and have undertaken, either voluntarily or on foot of a contractual commitment, to complete a period of service in the FLR.
The Military Authorities have advised that as of 31 March 2023, the strength of the First Line Reserve (FLR) is 275, comprising of 3 Officers, 43 Non Commissioned Officers (NCOs) and 229 Privates.
I agree that the FLR is an area, which requires attention. It is our aim, in the context of work arising from the Commission on the Defence Forces (CoDF), to build on the preliminary work we have done so far examining the contribution of the Reserve Defence Force (RDF), including its legislation, the regulations governing the RDF, and in tandem, the development of the FLR.
This will have to be balanced with the broad range of other recommendations from both the CODF and the IRG report.
I wish to point out however that significant progress has been achieved over the past number of years regarding the RDF.
There has been the introduction of the new Defence Force Regulation DFR R5 in 2022,; the recent deployment of Reservists overseas, which was made possible by the Defence (Amendment) Act 2021; and more recently, the establishment of the Office of Reserve Affairs (ORA) whose initial focus will be on a Regeneration Plan for the RDF.
I would like to assure the Deputy that it is my intention, and that of the Chief of Staff, to ensure that the momentum behind the regeneration of the RDF will be maintained throughout 2023 and beyond, thereby enabling us, going forward, to create a Reserve Defence Force that can seamlessly train, operate and deploy with the Permanent Defence Force, both nationally and internationally.