Activities of Russia and China are among the most serious threats to Irish security

The activities of Russia and China, along with those of Islamic and right-wing extremists, have been named as the most serious threats to Irish security by the Defense Force Commission.

In its report, which was presented to the cabinet today and is due for release on Wednesday, the Commission makes it clear that the Defense Forces are ill-equipped to deal with most of these threats.

The report recommends the most far-reaching reform program in the Irish Army’s century of history, with the primary focus being the reform and expansion of the Naval Service and Air Force in recognition of the Ireland as an island nation.

According to his most ambitious proposals, defense spending will increase by 300%, the naval service will consist of 12 ships and the Air Corps will be equipped with long-range transport aircraft and a squadron of 12 to 24 fighter jets for the Irish police. skies.

Total defense force strength is expected to rise from 9,500 to 11,500, with most of the increases taking place in the naval service and air force, he said. He also recommended renaming these branches the Navy and Air Force.

It makes clear that the current level of defense spending is not sustainable if Ireland is to have a credible military capability

The report also contains the most damning official assessment of Irish security for many years. The military told the Commission that “it is not realistically equipped, positioned, or prepared to conduct meaningful defense of the state against a full-spectrum force for an extended period.”

The Commission said it was clear that the same applied to the Air Corps and the Naval Service.

Boost recruitment

The report also makes a series of recommendations on how to boost recruitment and improve retention.

These include removing some of the distinctions between officers and enlisted personnel, relaxing readiness standards, and allowing recruits with specialized skills to bypass certain aspects of military training. Barriers faced by women and minorities also need to be removed urgently

The Defense Force should set a target of 35% female members and make it easier for overseas-born members to obtain Irish citizenship, the report says.

The command and control structure should be completely overhauled, with all three military branches having equal status, instead of the military having priority.

There should be a Chief of Defense (CHOD) over all defense forces who would have much more operational autonomy than the current role of Chief of Staff. Each branch should have its own department manager.

The Defense Forces must also adapt to respond to new threats. It is expected to establish a “Joint Cyber ​​Defense Command” which would play a leading role in detecting and deterring cyber attacks, countering disinformation and protecting the integrity of Ireland’s elections from online interference.

It must also urgently develop anti-drone technology to protect critical infrastructure and troops overseas.

Ireland faces heightened threats of ‘great power competition’ and faces a ‘sandwich’ between US and Chinese interests in areas such as 5G technology, technology governance and technology supply.


Continued instability on Europe’s borders and the diminishing appetite of the United States to get involved in such issues also pose a threat, he said.

Another threat is posed by the increased use of hybrid forms of aggression, including cyberattacks, against Western democracies.

Irish troops on peacekeeping missions face growing threats due to the growth of drone technology and worsening climate change.

Jihadists, including Irish people who traveled to the Middle East to fight for terror groups, pose a security threat, as do right-wing extremists.

The tech industry, on which Ireland relies for much of its wealth, is becoming a proxy battleground for powerful nations, the Commission has said.

In the physical realm, there is a growing risk that Ireland’s land, sea and air will be used as vectors of attack for European neighbours. The report mentions planes from other countries flying in Irish-controlled airspace with their transponders switched off in order to test the UK’s response time, a practice undertaken by Russian bombers in recent years.

There will be a growing need for military intelligence to protect state security against foreign espionage, he said, and the role of Defense Force intelligence must be clarified.

Ambition levels

The Commission has defined three “levels of ambition” (LOA) that the government must take into account.

LOA 1 is simply to maintain the current state of the army. This is not recommended and would leave Ireland vulnerable to various threats, the report says.

LOA 2 would involve identifying and closing urgent gaps in Irish national security. This would include measures such as allowing the naval service to put 9 fully crewed ships to sea and improving the Air Corps helicopter fleet, as well as procuring a primary radar system to identify foreign military aircraft in the airspace controlled by Ireland.

This would imply a 50% increase in defense spending. The commission said it would not require major changes in policy, as that would involve identifying current shortcomings that prevent the government from achieving its already stated policy goals.

LOA 3 would involve equipping the military to match other Western countries of comparable size. The Naval Service would get 12 ships while the Air Corps would get a squadron of fighter jets and long-range aircraft for transporting troops and supplies. To meet these needs, defense spending would have to increase by a factor of between 2.5 and 3, he said.

The Commission recommends that the government adopt LOA 2 in the short term while a policy debate takes place on the benefits of adopting the recommendations of LOA 3.

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