Change management and physical restructuring of the Irish Defence Forces

Introduction and background to the project

The Irish Defence Forces are the armed services of the Irish Military consisting of Naval Services, the Air Corps, the Army (covering ground and air operations) and the Reserve Defence Forces consisting of part-time military members. Commissioned officers in the Defence Forces are granted their commissions by the President of Ireland, with supplementary decision-making and presidential representation occurring through the Irish Minister of Defence. It is the responsibility of the Defence Forces to secure the state against foreign and domestic threats, prepare the state for terrorist and non-terrorist armed military threats, ensure peace-keeping in the country, and provide humanitarian relief efforts coordinated with support from the United Nations. Domestic non-combat activities include policing of fisheries, bomb disposal and stabilising chemical threats (Defence Forces Ireland, 2013).

In 2009, the Irish Defence Forces began to over-run its allotted budget for operations, which had been set at €688 million. Economic conditions lingering from the 2008-2010 economic recession, which led to a variety of austerity packages imposed, by Irish government, to stabilise and improve the Irish economy (O’Brien, 2012; Burns, 2010), made it necessary to restructure the Irish Defence Forces. The government could not afford another budgetary increase to secure effective and productive operations. This restructuring involved labour reduction in key services, reduction in barrack presence in key strategic regions, condensed tangible resource allocation to the Forces, and redeployment of posted servicepersons to undertake front line operational roles (Forde, 2012). At the same time, changing cultural mind-sets within the Irish Defence Forces became part of the project as the Defence Forces in the country had been criticised for being resistant to change; this required human resources focus to build a more cohesive, vision-centric and flexible military organisational culture.

This report identifies and evaluates the project management aspects the Defence Forces’ recent reorganisation. It focuses on providing an explanation as to why it is a legitimate project, a critical examination of the successes and/or failures of the project, and makes recommendations as to how the reorganisation could have been improved by using alternative or improved project management strategies.

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