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To ask the Minister for Defence the progress that has been made in facilitating members of the Reserve Defence Forces to serve overseas; the timescale for such development; and if he will make a statement on the matter. DEPUTY DAVID STANTON



Minister of State at the Department of Defence ( Mr. Tom Kitt T.D.,).

The White Paper on Defence outlines the blueprint for a new Reserve Defence Force. An Implementation Plan has been developed that will ensure the realisation of the White Paper vision. The Implementation Plan is being rolled out over the period to end 2009. The new Reserve has a clearly defined role, an enhanced relationship with the PDF, better equipment and training and opportunities to serve on overseas peace support missions.

The Reserve has already seen significant improvements in terms of organisation, clothing, equipment, training and resourcing. It is now structured along similar lines to the PDF and the development of the integrated element of the Reserve is in its second year. All of these developments enhance the capabilities of the Reserve as well as improving interoperability with the PDF. These factors are significant enablers in facilitating participation by Reserve personnel in overseas missions.

While there are no plans for participation by members of the Reserve in overseas missions in the current year, policies to support the selection of suitably qualified personnel for overseas duties are being developed. It is hoped that a small number of Reservists may be available to serve overseas by the end of next year (2009). This is likely to be in specialised areas such as medical, transport, engineering and communications and information services. This will also be subject to personnel having suitable qualifications, their personal availability and appropriate training.