EU country’s military not capable of properly defending it, report finds
A review of Ireland’s defense forces has found that, unless significant investment and reorganization is carried out, the country will be left “without a credible military capability” against potential foreign aggression.
The report was published on Wednesday, more than a year after it was first commissioned. It found that should the Irish government avoid any major increase in military spending or reorganization, the Irish Defence Forces would be left “unable to conduct a meaningful defence of the state against a sustained act of aggression from a conventional military force,” and would be forced to scale down Ireland’s commitments to UN peacekeeping missions.
Ireland is a neutral country, and its military partakes in civil defense operations – like flood relief – at home, and humanitarian and peacekeeping missions abroad. Ireland’s navy has been involved in EU migrant rescue operations in the Mediterranean and its army is currently involved in UN missions in Africa, the Middle East, and the Balkans.
To better defend the sovereignty of the state, the report recommends that Ireland beef up its coastal defense, upgrade its naval fleet, invest in radar equipment, and strengthen the country’s “military intelligence and cyber defence capabilities.” It also recommends that the state purchase more aircraft, including ones capable of transporting troops. At present, Ireland only operates propeller-driven training and patrol aircraft.
However, the report states that to go one step further and field a true conventional military, Ireland would need to double or triple its defense budget and purchase combat aircraft and new naval ships, and invest in its special forces, the Army Ranger Wing.
“It is clear to the Commission that the current level of financial commitment delivers military capabilities which are inadequate for the Defence of Ireland and its people from the threats identified in this report,” the document reads.
Clashes on Europe’s borders due to migration, terrorism, and climate change are all identified as “threats” in the report. So too is the “great power competition” between Russia and NATO, of which Ireland is not a member.
Ireland’s Minister for Defence Simon Coveney called the report “blunt” and “hard-hitting,” admitting it poses “serious questions regarding defence provision that we as a society must now carefully consider.”