The Armed Forces of Malta need around 600 more soldiers to reach the amount required to cope with the needs of the Army.
The Army’s Commander, Brigadier Jeffrey Curmi, explained that to address the challenges it faces, the army is committed to recruiting new soldiers and officers every year. During today’s passing out parade, another 80 new recruits will officially join the forces as soldiers.
The Army is currently operating under its first strategic ten-year plan, which will take it up to the year 2026. “This gives direction to me as the Brigadier and even for future Brigadiers on how the Army should function. It gives us structure on how we should operate to lead the Army for the next ten years and some of the recommendations have already been implemented. It is a plan which has given us a mission statement and a vision of how we can achieve it,” the Brigadier said.
The Commander said that the plan reflects the needs of the Army and the country’s security, and this means that from time to time there will be a revision of what has been written in black and white in this plan. Human resources will continue to be the heart of the army. Right now the members of the Armed Forces amount to 1,764, which is 624 less than the established complement.
Brigadier Curmi said that for this number to be gradually reached, the army needs to recruit around 150 soldiers and ten cadet officers every year. From these, one needs to deduct the number of those who retire from the Forces, which is at a lower rate than recruitment.
Revision of Volunteer Army Reserves and plans to expand the Special Operations Unit
The army also has Volunteer Army Reserves which at the moment stands at 31 members, with another recruitment drive currently underway. Following amendments to the law, the army reserves are no longer limited to when they are called upon by the President of the Republic in the case of an emergency, but can be involved in other cases as well.
With their consent, the Commander can call on them to help out during security operations with VIPs, as happened during the Maltese Presidency and other important conferences which met in Malta. Brigadier Curmi announced that right now the army is studying how it can continue to benefit from the experience and special training which members who have retired from the Forces have acquired during their military career, by also giving them the chance to apply as volunteer army reserves.
“I understand that this is where the person needs to have their mind at rest not only that he expects to be called up, but that he wishes to do something more structured, especially if one has certain qualifications. In this case we can call on him to give us a helping hand,” the Brigadier explained.
The strategic plan also mentioned the setting up of a new division: the Special Operations Unit which has now been operating for several months. Brigadier Curmi explained that this Unit includes various specialisations.
“We have explosives experts, diving experts, people who are specialised in infantry and snipers. These now all fall under the SOU. It also incorprates all those who, if I need to intervene quickly, are able to intervene immediately, with people who are trained and who can operate in different sectors at the same time,” said the Brigadier.
He added that the Special Operations Unit has carried out several successful operations and the plan is for it to continue expanding. He said that members of this unit are being given the best training possible both in Malta an overseas with the current emphasis being operations out at sea.