New figures provided to Fianna Fáil Defence spokesperson Lisa Chambers reveal that there are now just 841 Army officers in the Defence Forces.  The figure has fallen from 966 officers in 2012.

“There has been widespread concern in recent years about the depletion of the officer ranks in the Defence Forces and it is clear from these figures that the situation is becoming extremely serious.  If the exodus continues and the issue continues to be ignored, the operating capabilities of the Defence Forces could be seriously impacted”, explained Deputy Chambers.

“It has been reported that last year 76 officers left the Defence Forces early – a rate which is simply unsustainable.  Representative organisations say they have attempted to engage with management to have their concerns addressed, but with little success.

“It’s not just the Army that has seen a drop in officer numbers –  the Naval Service is down about 10% and the Air Corps personnel  have fallen by almost 13%. It is absolutely essential that steps are taken to address the attrition rate in the Defence Forces and the loss of many highly trained and skilled officers.

“The Defence Forces are now seriously below strength and it is time now to significantly rebuild. The decline over recent years has left the force with just 9,085 personnel – some 415 below the current agreed strength. Even though a new recruitment campaign was announced earlier this year the numbers have dropped further from the 9,146 at the end of February.

“I believe we must move towards a force of 10,500 and in doing so, we must also regain what has been lost on the officer side. Strong leadership is critical to developing and sustaining operational capability.”