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Gender gap is causing wars says Defence Forces Chief of Staff
Pic: Courtesy Óglaigh na hÉireann

26 Feb 2020 / justice Print

Gender gap is causing wars says Defence Forces Chief

Vice Admiral Mark Mellett, chief of staff of the Defence Forces, told the Slandáil National Security Conference yesterday that climate change is driving tension and insecurity but this cannot be separated from other themes such as bio-diversity loss, over-exploitation and pollution.

'Most invasive species is human beings'

“In the context of eco-system governance, perhaps the most invasive species of all is human beings,” he said.

The gender gap is one of the biggest drivers of inter-state and intra-state violence and insecurity, the Vice-Admiral said.

“And actually, one of the things we're doing in our military is investing significantly in institutionalising a gender perspective in our soldiers and our sailors and air crew,” he said.

The Defence Forces chief said: “We can’t change cultures overnight but certainly, in any mission we’re involved in, we have our gender advisors…we’re trying to bring along that change in cultures that empowers women, that improves gender equality and tries to close the gender gap.”

The UN Security Council resolution on women, peace and security, 1325, is built into Defence Forces planning and strategy, he said.

“So it’s not just about bullets and the military might,” he said.

Reducing energy footprint

The Defence Forces is also seeking to reduce its energy footprint continually with more efficient ways to propel ships and drive vehicles.

The main carbon use driver is fuel for aircraft and ships with 40% of energy consumption driven by the naval fleet.

New acquisitions of fleet will have electric drives.

The defence forces will be taking bets on smart technology in the future, he said.

The Slandáil National Security Summit was organised to bring together uniformed individuals in the security industry with a  view to creating conversations about national security, its founder Dr Gerry Waldron said yesterday morning at the Helix in DCU, Dublin 9.


He said these conversations are important to Irish citizens.

Minister of State Paul Kehoe said that developing a dialogue on security and defence can only serve to strengthen understanding of the issues which are relevant and important to the lives of all citizens.

He said that Ireland remains a safe and stable country with a moderate threat level but that in a complex world there are ever evolving threats which demand a new security architecture.

Threat level

The experience in Europe has shown that this threat level can escalate rapidly, the minister said.

The cyber espionage threat has been assessed as increasing since 2015.

The National Security Analysis Centre has led the way in the development of this new strategy, by building capacity, setting standards, ensuring vigilance and learning from best practice at home and abroad.

The minister said that climate change could potentially aggravate existing water and food shortage and increase the likelihood of regional instability.

Fixed cycle of defence reviews 

The Government has also committed to a fixed cycle of defence reviews on a three-yearly basis.

“These reviews are common internationally and are intended to ensure that defence policy remains up to date,” he said.

Capability development and resourcing such as armoured logistics and utility vehicles, Naval Service ship replacement and renewal and new fixed wing and maritime patrol aircraft are all on the radar.

HR challenges

The minister said that HR challenges remain in the Defence Forces with recruitment and retention key issues.

Since 2016, the EU now has a clear and ambitious vision for a common foreign and security policy, the minister said, and Ireland will seek to play its collective role a security provider and trusted partner at a global level.

The establishment of PESCO, the new European defence co-operation mechanism, in December 2017 was an important step forward in EU co-operation, he said.

It was important that Ireland joined, he said, despite all the opposition he faced in parliament in taking that step.

Joining PESCO was a natural progression to develop capabilities in peace-keeping and crisis management, since Ireland has always played a key role in EU overseas operations.

With a view to encouraging greater multilateralism, the EU engages with a number of key partners in the area of security and defence, including the UN, The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and NATO, the minister said.

Defence research

The creation of a European Defence Fund will see for the first time ever EU funding of €8 billion, dedicated to defence research and capability development, from 2021-27.

Both the EU and NATO face similar emerging and complex security threats which require co-ordinated and complementary responses.

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