Introduction

This qualitative, quantitative, empirical research will show that current management techniques in the Irish Air Corps require to be radically transformed. A satisfactory level of organisational congruence must be achieved between the personnel and the technological function of the organisation. The success or failure of the current Defence Forces ten-year change strategy, which commenced during 1996, will be decided on how the technostructural aspects of the change process are addressed. My study will show that military management techniques used in the Irish Air Corps requires realignment. This is necessary if a satisfactory level of organisational congruence is to be achieved.

The Defence Forces including the Air Corps are embarking on major organisational change supported by the government of the day. This organisational development or change process was established by the Government in April 1988. The Efficiency Audit Group was put in place to scrutinise the role and work practices of each Government Department including the Defence Forces. In addition, the EAG was tasked with making recommendations to improve current policy, reduce cost, and improve efficiency. The EAG group includes high ranking Civil Servants, personnel from the trade union movement, the private sector, under the stewardship of a chairman.

An examination of the Defence Forces began against the framework of several associated studies which highlighted the requirement for an extensive analysis of all facets of Defence Forces structures and operations. The Gleeson Commission report of July 1990, while focussing on remuneration and other matters, emphasised organisational and structural deficiencies exist in the Defence Forces. During 1991, the EAG 1 also examined the structure of the Department of Defence and recommended financial delegation to the Military Authorities. In 1995, the military were responsible for £55 million pounds which represents almost half of the discretionary component of the Defence Vote. During 1992 in a further study the EAG 2 focussed on internal military administration concentrating on implementing efficiencies.

In response to the changing international defence climate the Government on the 22nd April 1993, decided to update the declaration for the role of the Defence Forces. On the 21st of September 1993, the Government approved the revised declaration. This resulted in greater significance being applied to the operational tasking of the Defence Forces which includes aid to the civil power, UN service, search and rescue and fishery protection.

Considering the scale of the review demanded and the need for various types of expertise not available within the EAG 3 or the Defence Forces tasked with combining the talents of the private sector and the public sector to advise the Government on reducing costs and improving efficiency in the provision of state services. The EAG appointed management consultants to undertake the detailed work under the direction of the group. Following a Department of Defence tendering process, Price Waterhouse Management Consultants were awarded the contract to begin the in-depth study of the Defence Forces. Senior Irish military officers had an input into the selection of the consultants. The Military Authorities expressed contentment with the Price Waterhouse team which included a number of recently retired Canadian military officers. A senior military adviser from New Zealand helped the EAG group. The New Zealand Defence Forces recently underwent a similar type study.

All parties to the review process regarded the consultancy team as having the requisite management consultancy skills and the required military expertise to address the full range of issues likely to arise during the review stage.

The Review Mechanism

The terms of reference for the study applied to Price Waterhouse were “To develop feasible options for the overhaul of the Defence Forces structures and systems having regard to the statement of roles approved on 21st September 1993, with the aim of achieving:

  • The most efficient and effective procurement, deployment and use of resources, recognising resource constraints and with particular reference to geographic location;
  • The optimum command, grading and management structures and systems (including arrangements in respect of the interaction between the Defence Forces and the Civil side of the Department of Defence) and,
  • The appropriate level and composition of administrative and operational strength and equipment”. ¹

¹ Source – Review of the Defence Forces 1995, Department of Defence. – P. 5 to 6.

The review process developed in many phases. The detailed examination undertaken by a team of management consultants from Price Waterhouse with the Canadian military advisers worked in consultation with a steering group. This group included the Chairman of the EAG, the Secretary of the Department of Defence, the Chief of Staff of the Irish Defence Forces (now retired), representatives from the Department of Finance, Foreign Affairs, Justice and the EAG secretariat. A working group helped the steering group consisting of senior officials from the Departments of the Taoiseach, Defence, Finance and senior military officers including the Quartermaster-General (now Chief of Staff).

In July 1994, Price Waterhouse submitted their report which set out their analysis and recommendations for the Defence Forces. During research, the Price Waterhouse management consultancy Team received extensive briefs from the Defence Forces and visited several Army, Naval Service and Air Corps units including a visit to the Irish Battalion serving in Lebanon. The consultants also received submissions from the Defence Forces representative associations, The Representative Association of Commissioned Officers (RACO), The Permanent Defence Force Other Ranks Representative Association (PDFORRA) and the Reserve Defence Force Representative Association (RDFRA).

A team of Defence Force military officers, assisted the management consultants, in analysing the use of internal resources by constructing an operational cost management matrix. The team identified all current activities, examined the manpower resources and costed all examined activities. The benefit of each activity in terms of contribution to the general mission of the Defence Forces was examined. Opportunities for achieving increased efficiency and effectiveness, were recommended to the management consultancy firm.

As the review progressed, the consultants reported at intervals to the EAG Steering Group to keep the Group informed of the consultant’s advancement. This procedure was useful for the EAG to give guidance to the management consultants. At several key stages during the review process interim reports were provided to the EAG Steering Group.

The stages were:

  • Assessment of the current situation
  • Development of future force characteristics
  • Decisions on the range of future options
  • Formulation of the overall recommendations
  • Completion of the draft report

Price Waterhouse submitted their report to the EAG and, in turn, the recommendations were forwarded to the Department of the Taoiseach at the end of December 1994.

In accepting the recommendations from the management consultants, the EAG also carefully considered documents submitted from the Military Authorities. The EAG acknowledges that a number of conclusions emerge from the analysis:

  • There is an unquestioned need for radical reform of the Permanent Defence Force (PDF) to enable it to carry out the tasks entrusted to it by Government.
  • An integrated programme of reform must be brought forward focussing on providing the PDF with appropriate structures, procedures and resources to enable it to discharge its duties adequately.
  • This reform programme should be developed with the full involvement of the Military Authorities;
  • A prime objective of this programme must be to make more personnel available for operational tasks.
  • The programme of reform must consider the changed situation caused by the cessation of violence on the one hand and developments in relation to European security policy on the other.

The EAG recommended urgent action to be taken to address the many fundamental critical issues identified in the Price Waterhouse report. The EAG determined that the extent of the change process required in the Defence Forces necessitated the development of a master plan.

Many issues considered by Price Waterhouse will require careful planning before implementation and in some cases further study will be required.

The following are some key areas identified by the EAG which require urgent action within the recommended program of reform:

  • Development of a manpower policy with the emphasis on lowering the age profile of the PDF and with freeing-up military personnel by employing additional civilians to undertake non-military tasks. The EAG recommended the adoption of a voluntary early retirement scheme along with a policy of continuous intake of recruits.
  • Establishment of an Armed Forces committee as recommended by Price Waterhouse to improve strategic management, coordination and control.
  • Revision of the range of statutory duties of the Chief of Staff to include specific responsibility for overseeing and co-ordinating the implementation of military aspects of the various measures decided on for the overall reform of the Defence Forces. In particular to give a new emphasis and focus to his responsibility for the effectiveness, efficiency, military organisation and economy of the Defence Forces.
  • The duties of the Adjutant-General and Quartermaster-General should be reassigned to two posts of Deputy Chief of Staff, one for operations and one for support.
  • Command structures should be streamlined by reducing immediately the number of headquarters and by reducing the ratio of officers to other ranks by dismantling the current territorial commands and the number of HQ functions.
  • To allow the concentration of expenditure on the development of a mobile, well equipped, better trained PDF the ratios of pay to non-pay expenditure should be readjusted and the management of Defence Expenditure should be carried out in line with arrangements emerging from the Strategic Management Initiative.

In conclusion, the EAG also recommended that the full process of consultation with all relevant groups be conducted to implement the reform programme effectively.

Government Policy

The Government considered the Efficiency Audit Group Report and the Price Waterhouse analysis as commissioned by the EAG 3. Subsequently, the Minister for Defence and the Government accepted the conclusions recommended in the Efficiency Audit Group Report. The Minister for Defence recognises that the implementation of major reform requires a structured fully-costed detailed plan measured against a time interval. The Minister envisages such a plan being presented to his department not later than 31st October 1995, for submission to Government. This plan later became known as the Department of Defence Forces Review Implementation plan, Phase 1, February 1996.

The events as they occurred after this period are discussed in detail in Chapter 5, Organisational Development in the Air Corps.