Defence planning in Ireland

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Crummey, Declan
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University College Cork
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This research explores defence planning in Ireland, establishing incrementalism as the theory of public policy that best reflects decision-making in Ireland’s defence policy. The research also establishes the institutions and actors that are involved, how they are organised and what relationship exists between them, while identifying Ireland’s defence planning model. The challenge of how a society plans for and manages defence, and defence planning as a practice to meet this challenge, has existed throughout history. Most modern democratic states maintain the ability to organise a collective military force. The procedures and processes that determine what that military force consists of, and what it can do, is defence planning. Effective and efficient defence planning is more concerned with the form and function of the future military force than the deployment of the current one. The research was conducted from a mixed-method, concurrent quantitative and qualitative design position utilising the phenomenological approach. Three (3) primary methods of data collection were identified by the researcher in this mixed-methods research design – document review, interviews, and a web-based survey. The findings indicate that structured defence planning occurs in Ireland. Defence planning in Ireland recognises specific national challenges in relation to threat perception, a traditionally low defence spend and the lack of a national discourse on defence matters. There is a clearly defined structure for the management of defence planning in Ireland from the Government through the Minister for Defence to the civil and military elements of the Department of Defence. The primary tool utilised for defence policy is a White Paper process but there is uncertainty about how this policy will be expressed in the future. There have only been two (2) White Papers on Defence in the history of the State. From a historical reluctance to formulate defence policy, incrementalism has emerged as the prevailing theory of public policy underpinning defence in Ireland. The civil-military relationship in Ireland is not clearly defined. As a result, there are different interpretations, understandings and perspectives between civil and military personnel. Threat based planning is stated to be the planning framework for defence policy but the research indicates that a combination of resource constrained planning and incremental planning is more accurate. There is influence from, and engagement with, International Organisations evident in Ireland’s defence planning but a NATO or EU approach is not adopted. A critical gap identified in the historical and current context, is the lack of clearly defined and stated threats and subsequent tasks for the military force. This should exist as a high-level policy parameter such as a National Security Strategy to which a subordinate defence policy can be nested and clear tasks and objectives can be determined for the military.
Defence planning , Ireland
Crummey, D. 2022. Defence planning in Ireland. MRes Thesis, University College Cork.
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