Irish Army

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This article is about the Army of the Permanent Defence Forces. For the Army of the Reserve Defence Forces, see Army Reserve (Ireland).
Army
an tArm
Badge of the Irish Defence Forces.svg
Irish Army Cap Badge
Active February 1922–present
Country Ireland
Type Army
Size 7,520 personnel[1]
Part of Defence Forces
Website Defence Forces - Army
Insignia
Shoulder Flash (used overseas) Flag of Ireland.svg

The army of Ireland, known simply as the Army (Irish: an tArm), is the main branch of the Defence Forces[2] of Ireland. As of December 2012, approximately 7,510 men and women serve in the Irish Army,[3] divided into two geographically organised brigades.[4][5] Since 1958 the Army has had a continuous presence in peacekeeping missions around the world as well as its maintaining its primary roles of defending the State and internal security within the State. The Army also participates in the European Union Battlegroups. The Air Corps and Naval Service support the Army in carrying out its roles.

Roles of the Army[edit]

The roles of the Army are:

  • To defend the Irish state against armed aggression.
  • To give aid to the civil power (ATCP). This means that the Army assists, when requested, the Garda Síochána, who have primary responsibility for law and order in Ireland.
  • To participate in multinational peace support, crisis management and humanitarian relief operations in support of the United Nations peacekeeping missions, and EUFOR (UN-sanctioned peacekeeping missions only).
  • To carry out other duties which may be assigned to them from time to time. For example, assistance on the occasion of natural disasters, assistance in connection with the maintenance of essential services, etc.

History[edit]

Beginning of the Army[edit]

The Defence Forces, including the Army, trace their origins to the Irish Volunteers founded in 1913. The Volunteers later became known as the Irish Republican Army (IRA), the guerilla organisation that fought British government forces during the Irish War of Independence. In February 1922, the Provisional Government began to recruit volunteers into the new 'National Army'.

The Provisional Government was set up on 16 January 1922 to transfer power from the British regime to the Irish Free State. On 31 January 1922, a former IRA unit (the Dublin Guard) assumed its new role as the first unit of the new National Army and took over Beggars Bush Barracks, the first British barracks to be handed to the new Irish Free State. The National Army's first Commander-in-Chief, Michael Collins, envisaged the new Army being built around the pre-existing IRA, but over half of this organisation rejected the compromises required by the Anglo-Irish Treaty which established the Irish Free State, and favoured upholding the revolutionary Irish Republic which had been established in 1919.

As such, from January 1922 until late June and the outbreak of the Irish Civil War, there existed two antagonistic armed forces: the National Army, built from a nucleus of pro-Treaty IRA units, and armed and paid by the Provisional Government; and the anti-Treaty IRA who refused to accept the legitimacy of the new state. Both forces continued to use the Irish-language title Óglaigh na hÉireann, which had previously been used by both the Irish Volunteers and the IRA. In July 1922 the Dáil authorised raising a force of 35,000 men; by May 1923 this had grown to 58,000. The National Army lacked the expertise necessary to train a force of that size, such that that approximately one fifth of its officers and half of its soldiers were Irish ex-servicemen of the British Army. These brought considerable experience to it.[6]

Civil War period[edit]

Rolls-Royce Armoured Cars pictured during the Civil War

The Irish Civil War broke out on 28 June 1922. The pro-Treaty Sinn Féin party, in power in the interim Provisional Government of Southern Ireland, had won an election in June. The British were applying increasing pressure on the government to assert its control over the anti-Treaty units of the IRA who had occupied the Four Courts in Dublin; this garrison had kidnapped JJ O'Connell, a Lieutenant-General in the National Army.

In the early weeks of the Civil War, the newly formed National Army was mainly composed of pro-Treaty IRA units, especially the Dublin Guard, whose members had personal ties to Michael Collins. Its size was estimated at about 7,000 men, in contrast to about 15,000 anti-Treaty IRA men. However, the Free State soon recruited far more troops, with the army's size mushrooming to 55,000 men and 3,500 officers by the end of the Civil War in May 1923. Many of its recruits were war-hardened Irishmen who had served in the British Army during the First World War. W.R.E. Murphy, a second-in-command of the National Army in the civil war (from January until May 1923) had been a Lieutenant Colonel in the British Army, as had Emmet Dalton. Indeed, the Free State recruited experienced soldiers from wherever it could; two more of its senior generals, John T. Prout and JJ "Ginger" O'Connell, had served in the United States Army.

The British government supplied the National Army with uniforms, small arms, ammunition, artillery and armoured units, which enabled it to bring the Civil War to a relatively speedy conclusion. Dublin was taken from anti-Treaty IRA units during the Battle of Dublin in July 1922. The anti-Treaty IRA were also dislodged from Limerick and Waterford in that month and Cork and County Kerry were secured in a decisive seaborne offensive in August.

The remainder of the war was a Guerrilla War concentrated particularly in the south and west of the country. On 15 October, directives were sent to the press by Free State director of communications, Piaras Béaslaí to the effect that Free State troops were to be referred to as the "National Army", the "Irish Army", or just "troops". The Anti-Treaty side were to be called "Irregulars" and were not to be referred to as "Republicans", "IRA", "forces", or "troops", nor were the ranks of their officers allowed to be given.[7] National Army units, especially the Dublin Guard, were implicated in a series of atrocities against captured anti-Treaty fighters.

The National Army suffered about 800 fatalities in the Civil War, including its commander-in-chief, Michael Collins. Collins was succeeded by Richard Mulcahy.

In April 1923, the anti-Treaty IRA called a ceasefire, and in May it ordered its fighters to "dump arms", effectively ending the war.

National Army[edit]

With the end of the Civil War, the National Army had grown too big for a peacetime role and was too expensive for the new Irish state to maintain. In addition, many of the civil war recruits were badly trained and undisciplined, making them unsuitable material for a full-time professional army. The Special Infantry Corps was established to perform the army's first post-war duty, breaking the strikes of agricultural labourers in Munster and south Leinster, as well as reversing factory seizures by socialists.[8]

Richard Mulcahy, the new Irish defence minister, proposed to reduce the army from 55,000 to 18,000 men in the immediate post-Civil War period.[9] This provoked mutiny among National Army officers in 1923-24, particularly among former IRA officers who considered that former British Army officers were being treated better than they were.[10]

On 3 August 1923, the new State passed the Defence Forces (Temporary Provisions) Act, putting the existing armed forces on a legal footing.[11] This Act raised "an armed force to be called Óglaigh na hÉireann (hereinafter referred to as the Forces) consisting of such number of officers, non-commissioned officers, and men as may from time to time be provided by the Oireachtas."[12][13][14] The date of the establishment of the Defence Forces was 1 October 1924.[not in citation given][13][dead link][14][not in citation given] The term "National Army" fell into disuse.

The Army had a new establishment, organisation, rank markings, head dress and orders of dress.[14][15] The National Army's Air Service became the Air Corps and remained part of the Army until the 1990s. An all Irish language speaking unit was created - An Chéad Chathlán Coisithe (English: The First Infantry Battalion) was established in Galway, and functioned exclusively through the medium of the Irish state's first official language.[16]

The Emergency[edit]

Volunteer Force recruitment poster, 1930s

Ireland remained neutral for the Second World War, which was referred to as "The Emergency" by the Irish government. About 5,000 soldiers deserted and joined the British military.[17] Those soldiers received an official amnesty and apology from the government of Ireland on 7 May 2013.[18]

Despite the Irish neutral stance, the Army was greatly expanded during the war. It grew from about 10,000 men up to about 40,000 by the war's end (with more recruited to reserve forces). By early 1941, this comprised an all-volunteer force of two infantry divisions and two independent brigades, as well as coastal artillery and garrison units. This expansion was enforced in order to ward off potential invasions from either the Allied or Axis powers (both of whom had drawn up contingency plans to invade Ireland).[citation needed]

In 1939, the remnants of the IRA stole a large quantity of the Irish Army's reserve ammunition from its dump at the Magazine Fort in Dublin's Phoenix Park. While this was seen as an embarrassment for the Irish Army, most of it was recovered.

As the war went on, more and newer equipment was purchased from the United Kingdom and the United States. For the duration of the war, Ireland, while formally neutral, tacitly supported the Allies in several ways.[citation needed] German military personnel were interned in the Curragh Camp along with the belligerent powers' servicemen, whereas Allied airmen and sailors who crashed or came ashore in Ireland were very often repatriated, usually by allowing them time to repair their aircraft or get a bus across the border to Northern Ireland.[citation needed]

G2, the Army's intelligence section, played a vital role in the detection and arrest of German spies, such as Hermann Görtz.[citation needed] From 1942 G2 was headed by Colonel Dan Bryan.[citation needed]

Peacekeeping missions[edit]

Since joining the United Nations in 1955, the Army has been deployed on many peacekeeping missions. The first of these missions took place in 1958, when a small number of observers were sent to Lebanon. A total of 86 Irish soldiers have died in the service of the United Nations since 1960.[19]

Irish ONUC troops (36 Bn) man a position over the Elizabeth road tunnel during the Congo Crisis, December 1961
(Image: Defence Forces)

Congo[edit]

The first major overseas deployment came in 1960, when Irish troops were sent to the Congo as part of the UN force ONUC. The Belgian Congo became an independent Republic on 30 June 1960. Twelve days later, the Congolese government requested military assistance from the United Nations to maintain its territorial integrity. On 28 July 1960 Lt-Col Murt Buckley led the 32nd Irish Battalion to the newly independent central African country. This was the most costly enterprise for the Army since the Civil War, as 26 Irish soldiers lost their lives. Nine died in a single incident called the "Niemba Ambush", in which an eleven-man Irish patrol was ambushed by local tribesmen. Nine Irish soldiers and some 25 tribesmen were killed. A Niemba Ambush commemoration is hosted annually by the Irish Veterans Organisation (ONET) in Cathal Brugha Barracks, on the nearest Saturday to the actual date of the ambush. One of the largest ONUC engagements in which Irish troops were involved was the Siege of Jadotville. During this action, a small party of 150 Irish soldiers was attacked by a larger force of almost 4,000 Katangese troops, as well as French, Belgian and Rhodesian mercenaries, and supported by a trainer jet. The Irish soldiers repeatedly repelled the attackers, and knocked out enemy artillery and mortar positions using 60mm mortars.[citation needed] An attempt was made by 500 Irish and Swedish soldiers to break through to the besieged company, but it failed. The Irish commander eventually surrendered his forces. A small number of Irish soldiers were wounded, but none were killed. It is estimated that up to 300 of their attackers were killed, including 30 white mercenaries, and up to 1,000 wounded.[citation needed] A total of 6,000 Irishmen served in the Congo from 1960 until 1964.

Cyprus and the Sinai[edit]

Starting in 1964, Irish troops have served as UN peacekeepers in Cyprus (UNFICYP). Over 9,000 Irish personnel have served there to date, without suffering casualties.

In 1973, an infantry group and some logistical troops were pulled out of Cyprus at short notice to serve in the Sinai desert between Egypt and Israel as part of the UN force that supervised the ceasefire that ended the Yom Kippur War.

From 1976 to 1981, UNFICYP was commanded by an Irish officer, Major-General James Quinn.

Lebanon[edit]

Irish troops marching while serving with UNIFIL in 2013.

From 1978 to 2001, a battalion of Irish troops was deployed in southern Lebanon, as part of the UN mandate force UNIFIL. The Irish battalion consisted of 580 personnel which were rotated every six months, plus almost 100 others in UNIFIL headquarters and the Force Mobile Reserve. In all, 30,000 Irish soldiers served in Lebanon over 23 years.

The Irish troops in Lebanon were initially intended to supervise the withdrawal of the Israel Defense Forces from the area after an invasion in 1978 and to prevent fighting between the Palestine Liberation Organization forces and Israel.

In April 1980, three Irish soldiers were killed an episode of violence near At Tiri in Southern Lebanon. On 16 April 1980, soldiers attempting to set up a checkpoint near At Tiri were attacked by members of the South Lebanon Army (an Israeli-backed Christian militia). Private Stephen Griffin, of the 46th Irish Battalion was shot in the head and died. Two days later, a party of three Irish soldiers, an American officer, a French officer and two journalists were travelling to a UN post near the Israeli border when they were intercepted by members of the S.L.A.. Private John O'Mahony from Killarney, County Kerry was shot and wounded and his two comrades Privates Thomas Barrett from Cork and Derek Smallhorne from Dublin were driven away. Both men were found shot dead nearby, with their bodies showing signs of torture.[20][21]

Another Israeli invasion in 1982 forced the PLO out of southern Lebanon, and occupied the area. The following 18 years, up until 2000 saw prolonged guerilla warfare between Israeli forces, their allies in the South Lebanon Army and Hezbollah. UNIFIL was caught in the middle of this conflict. The Irish battalion's role consisted of manning checkpoints and observations posts and mounting patrols. A total of 47 soldiers were killed. In addition to peacekeeping, the Irish also provided humanitarian aid to the local population - for example aiding the orphanage at Tibnin. From 25 April 1995 to 9 May 1996, Brigadier General P. Redmond served as Deputy Force Commander of UNIFIL during a period that coincided with the Israeli Operation Grapes of Wrath offensive in 1996.

Most Irish troops were withdrawn from Lebanon in 2001, following the Israeli evacuation of their forces the previous year. However 11 Irish troops remained there as observers. They were present during the 2006 Lebanon War. After this conflict, UNIFIL was reinforced and a mechanised infantry company of 165 Irish troops was deployed to southern Lebanon. Their role there was to provide perimeter protection for a Finnish Army engineering unit. After 12 months, the 1st Finnish/Irish Battalion ceased operations and was stood down from duty after having completed its mandate with UNIFIL. A number of Irish personnel remained in service at UNIFIL HQ in Southern Lebanon.[22]

Irish battalions returned to Lebanon in 2011 - initially with roughly 480 troops deployed in the region.[22] This was reduced to approximately 330 troops in May 2013,[23] and further to 180 troops in November 2013.[24][25]

Iran and Iraq[edit]

From August 1988 until May 1991, Irish soldiers were deployed, under the UN force UNIIMOG, on the border between Iraq and Iran to supervise the withdrawal of both side's troops back to within their respective borders after the end of the Iran–Iraq War. The Irish provided 177 of the 400 UNIIMOG personnel involved with the mission. The mission came to an end in 1991, when Iran and Iraq completed the withdrawal of their troops. A small number of Irish observers were also stationed in Kuwait since from 1991 to 2002 as part of UNIKOM.[26]

Somalia and Eritrea[edit]

In 1993, 100 troops forming a transport company were deployed in Somalia, as part of UNOSOM II peace-enforcing mission. In December 2001, 221 Irish soldiers were also sent to Eritrea as part of UNMEE, and were tasked with the defence of the UN headquarters there.

Bosnia and Kosovo[edit]

In 1997 an Irish Army Military Police unit and some other troops were deployed to Bosnia as part of SFOR (1995–2005) and EUFOR (December 2005 to present). The MP company was based in SFOR HQ in Sarajevo and policed the 8,000 SFOR troops based in the area. From 1999 until 2010, a Company of Irish troops were stationed in Kosovo as part of KFOR.

East Timor[edit]

In 1999, Irish officers were sent to East Timor as part of the UNAMET observer group (Timorese Independence Referendum). Later in the year, a platoon of Rangers (1 Ircon) were sent as part of the INTERFET peacekeeping force. The Army Ranger Wing (the Army's special forces unit) were deployed in East Timor alongside the Australian Special Air Service Regiment for a four-month tour. This marked the second time that the Army's elite force were officially deployed operationally outside of the Irish state, the first being to Somalia in 1993.[citation needed] INTERFET handed over to UNTAET during 2 Ircon's tour in 2000. The third contingent to Timor (3 Ircon) marked a new departure for the Defence Forces, as all the infantry sections were drawn from the 2nd Infantry Battalion. Late 2000 saw the 12th Infantry supply 4 Ircon. Nine contingents in total were deployed including the 4 Infantry Battalion, 5 Infantry Battalion, 28 Infantry Battalion, 1 Cathlán Coisithe, and finally the 6 Infantry Battalion under UNMISET.

Liberia[edit]

After November 2003, Irish troops were stationed in Liberia as part of UNMIL. The Liberian mission was the largest Irish overseas deployment since Lebanon and consisted of a single composite battalion. The UN force, UNMIL, was 15,000 strong and was charged with stabilising the country after the Second Liberian Civil War. The Irish troops were based in Camp Clara, near Monrovia and were tasked with acting as the Force Commander's "Quick Reaction Force" (QRF) in the Monrovia area. This meant the securing of key locations, conducting searches for illegally held weapons, patrolling and manning checkpoints on the main roads and providing security to civilians under threat of violence. The Irish deployment to Liberia was due to end in November 2006. However, at that time the deployment was extended for a further 6 months to May 2007.[27] During the UNMIL deployment, a detachment of Irish Army Rangers successfully rescued a group of civilians being held hostage by renegade Liberian gunmen. Acting on intelligence, twenty heavily armed Rangers were dropped by helicopter, rescuing the hostages and capturing the rebel leader.[28] In all the following battalions were involved in 2,745 cumulative missions under UNMIL:[29]

  • 90th Infantry Battalion (4th Western Brigade) - Nov 2003-May 2004
  • 91st Infantry Battalion (2nd Eastern Brigade) - May 2004-Nov 2004
  • 92nd Infantry Battalion (1st Southern Brigade) - Nov 2004-May 2005
  • 93rd Infantry Battalion (4th Western Brigade) - May 2005-Nov 2005
  • 94th Infantry Battalion (2nd Eastern Brigade) - Nov 2005-May 2006
  • 95th Infantry Battalion (1st Southern Brigade) - May 2006-Nov 2006
  • 96th Infantry Battalion (4th Western Brigade) - Nov 2006-May 2007

Chad[edit]

In August 2007, the Irish government announced that 200 Irish soldiers would be sent to support the United Nations effort as part of EUFOR Chad/CAR. As of 2008 500 troops had been deployed[30] - 54 of whom were Irish Army Rangers. In announcing the mission, the Minister for Defence recognised the regional nature of the crisis, involving instability in Darfur, Chad and the Central African Republic.[31] In accordance with their terms of reference, the deployment of Irish forces was confined to Chad. Ireland contributed the second largest contingent of soldiers to EUFOR Chad/CAR, after France, as part of the mission to establish peace in Chad and to protect refugees from neighbouring Darfur.[32][33] The Irish soldiers conducted operations concerned with the delivery of humanitarian aid, protection of civilians, and ensuring the safety of UN personnel.[34] There were a number of deployments to the mission, rotating every four months, with the final contingent completing their tour in May 2010:[35]

  • 97th Infantry Battalion - June 2008-Oct 2008
  • 98th Infantry Battalion - Oct 2008-Jan 2009
  • 99th Infantry Battalion - Jan 2009-May 2009
  • 100th Infantry Battalion - May 2009-Oct 2009
  • 101st Infantry Battalion - Oct 2009-Jan 2010
  • 102nd Infantry Battalion - Jan 2010-May 2010[36]

Syria[edit]

In 2013 the United Nations requested Ireland to deploy Peacekeepers as part of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) in the Golan region of Syria. The 43 Infantry Group, comprising 115 personnel, deployed into Syria in September 2013. The group is tasked primarily to serve as the Force Mobile Reserve within the UNDOF Area of Responsibility. The Irish peacekeepers were attacked by Syrian rebels on 29 November 2013. The Irish convoy came under small arms fire and a Mowag APC subsequently struck a land mine damaging the vehicle when driving out of the attack, the Irish returned fire with 12.7mm heavy machine guns mounted on their vehicles before the rebels retreated.[37]

Duties[edit]

An Irish Brigadier General during the 1916 Remembrance Parade, Dublin 2006

Border duties[edit]

At home, the Army was deployed to aid the Garda Síochána (the police force) along the border with Northern Ireland during the conflict known as the Troubles (1969–1998). In the early 1970s, it was suggested that the Army might cross the Border to protect the Irish nationalist community within Northern Ireland. This was never acted upon, although units were moved to the border region in 1969-70 during the Battle of the Bogside, in order to provide medical support to those wounded in the fighting.

Aid to the civil power[edit]

The Army's largest aid to the civil power role is its cash-in-transit escorts, with over 2000 missions carried out every year. All large shipments of cash within the State have been provided with armed military escorts since 1978. The Army provides 24-hour armed security at the maximum security Portlaoise Prison and also armed escort for the Prison Service transporting Ireland's most dangerous criminals.

Current overseas deployments[edit]

As of 8 September 2014, 422 Defence Forces are serving in 14 different missions throughout the world including Lebanon (UNIFIL), Syria (UNDOF), Middle East (UNTSO), Kosovo (KFOR), and other observer and staff appointments to UN, EU, OSCE and PfP posts.[38] The largest deployments include:[38]

  • Lebanon (UNIFIL) 45 Infantry Group
  • Syria (UNDOF) 44 Infantry Group

Training[edit]

Two soldiers undergoing sniper training.

All enlisted members of the Permanent Defence Forces (PDF)[2] undergo 16 weeks recruit training, after which they become a 2 Star Private. They then undergo a further 12 weeks of advanced training, after which they pass-out as a 3 Star Private, Trooper or Gunner depending on their respective Corps. During this continuous 28 weeks of training they are required to live in barracks. The Army recruits both men and women. Female recruits receive the same training as their male counterparts as there are no restrictions on the appointments open to females in the army.

Recruit training includes foot drill, arms drill, field-craft, medical, radio operation, rifle marksmanship, unarmed combat, tactical and daily physical training (PT). During this stage of training they are also given weapons training on the Steyr Rifle, General Purpose Machine Gun and grenade.

On completion of recruit training, soldiers become 2 Star Privates and immediately begin 3 Star training. This includes more advanced training of everything covered by recruit training plus riot training, navigation, CBRN, helicopter drills, survival, FIBUA, live fire tactical training, etc. They are also receive further weapons training on the M203 Grenade Launcher and Short Range Anti-Armour Weapon.

Throughout their service, soldiers must complete courses to advance their skills and for promotion.

Composition[edit]

The Army has an establishment of 8,500[39] personnel and consists of a single division sized element made up of two brigades.[4] Prior to 2012, the army was divided into three brigades, organised to be responsible for a geographical area of the country: Southern, Eastern and Western.[5] Following budgetary decisions in 2011,[40] the army was reorganised in late 2012 into two brigades, responsible respectively for the south and north.[4][41] The training element of the army, the Defence Forces Training Centre, operates independently of the brigade structure.

Brigades[edit]

Structure of the Irish Army

The 1st Brigade is headquartered in Collins Barracks, Cork, and has an area of territorial responsibility which includes the counties of Carlow, Cork, Galway, Kerry, Kilkenny, Laois, Limerick, Offaly, Tipperary, Waterford and Wexford. Units of the 1st Brigade include:

  • 1 Infantry Battalion (Galway)
  • 3 Infantry Battalion (Kilkenny)
  • 12 Infantry Battalion (Limerick)
  • 1 Artillery Regiment (Cork)
  • 1 Cavalry Squadron (Cork)
  • 1 Communication and Information Services Company (Cork)
  • 1 Engineer Group (Cork)
  • 1 Supply & Transport Group (Cork)
  • 1 Ordnance Group (Cork)
  • 1 Military Police Company (Cork)

The 2nd Brigade is headquartered in Cathal Brugha Barracks, Dublin, and has an area of territorial responsibility which includes the counties of Cavan, Donegal, Dublin, Kildare, Leitrim, Louth, Mayo, Meath, Monaghan, Sligo, Westmeath and Wicklow. Units of the 2nd Brigade include:

  • 6 Infantry Battalion (Athlone)
  • 7 Infantry Battalion (Dublin)
  • 27 Infantry Battalion (Dundalk)
  • 28 Infantry Battalion (Ballyshannon)
  • Gormanston Camp Infantry Company (Gormanston)
  • 2 Artillery Regiment (Athlone)
  • 2 Cavalry Squadron (Dublin)
  • 2 Communication and Information Services Company (Dublin)
  • 2 Engineer Group (Athlone)
  • 2 Supply & Transport Group (Athlone)
  • 2 Ordnance Group (Athlone)
  • 2 Military Police Company (Dublin)

Defence Forces Training Centre[edit]

In addition to the two brigades in the Army, there is also the Defence Forces Training Centre (DFTC). This element is responsible for providing professional training to the Irish Army through three separate colleges:

  • Military College
  • Combat Support College (Cavalry/Engineering/Signal Schools)
  • Combat Service Support College (Transport/Ordnance/Military Police/Medical/Admin/Catering (in Dublin) & Physical Fitness Schools)

There are also several units located at the DFTC that are not part of the brigade structure:

  • Operational Units
  • Support Units
    • Supply and Services Unit
    • Defence Force Logistics Base
    • DFTC Military Police Company

The operational units fall under the direct command of the Defence Force HQ, and may be deployed either in support of brigade units or separately on any operation.

Army Corps[edit]

Cavalry Corps FV101 Scorpion

Infantry Corps[edit]

The Infantry Corps represent the largest component and are the operational troops of the Army. They must be prepared for tactical deployment in any location at short notice. In wartime this means that they will be among the frontline troops in the defence of the Irish state. In peacetime they can be seen daily performing operational duties in aid to the civil power such as providing escorts to cash, prisoner or explosive shipments, patrols of vital state installations and border patrols, including checkpoints.

Artillery Corps[edit]

The Artillery Corps provides fire support as required by infantry or armoured elements. The Corps was founded in 1924 and today consists of two main branches: Field Artillery and Air Defence. Between them, the two branches of the Corps provide several vital services;

  • Fire support of Infantry or Armoured troops.
  • Ground to low level air defence.
  • Light field battery support to Irish overseas battalion.
  • Aid to the civil power duties.

Each brigade has a single artillery regiment.

Cavalry Corps[edit]

The Cavalry Corps is the army's armoured reconnaissance formation.

Engineer Corps[edit]

Engineers constructing Camp Clara in Liberia

The Engineer Corps is the combat engineering unit of the Defence Forces. The Engineer Corps is responsible for all military engineering matters across the Defence Forces.

Ordnance Corps[edit]

The responsibility for the procurement and maintenance of all ordnance equipment is vested in the Ordnance Corps and encompasses a spectrum of equipment ranging from anti-aircraft missiles and naval armament to the uniforms worn by military personnel. The corps is also responsible for the procurement of food and provision of commercial catering services. These tasks are of a technical nature and the corps personnel are appropriately qualified and with the expertise to afford technical evaluation of complete weapon systems, it also includes embracing weapons, ammunition, fire control instruments and night vision equipment. The Ordnance Corps provides improvised explosive device disposal within the state, in support of the Garda Síochána. The Corps must keep abreast of current developments in international terrorist devices and the equipment needed to counteract these devices. Courses are conducted for its own personnel and for students from the military and police of many other nations. Ordnance Corps personnel continue to serve in overseas missions and are an essential component of missions involving troops.

Transport Corps[edit]

The Transport Corps is responsible for the procurement, management and maintenance of all soft skinned vehicles, and the maintenance of all armoured vehicles within the Defence Forces. It is also responsible for the driver training, testing, certification, maintenance of driving standards and provision of vehicle fuels, oils and lubricants. The Transport Corps provides heavy lift capability for the Defence Forces.

Medical Corps[edit]

The Army Medical Corps has the responsibility of maintaining health and preventing disease in the Defence Forces and providing treatment of its sick and wounded. While these functions are of prime importance in time of war they also continue in peacetime. The Corps provides Dental as well as medical care for all personnel. The service provided includes surgery, physiotherapy and nursing. Their personnel have served in all the major UN missions providing medical and dental support. They also fill an important role in the provision of humanitarian assistance to the local civilian population giving medical aid in circumstances in which local medical services are unlikely to function adequately.

Military Police Corps[edit]

The Military Police (Irish: Póilíní Airm, hence the nickname "PAs") are responsible for the prevention and investigation of offences, the enforcement of discipline and the general policing of the Defence Forces. In wartime, additional tasks include the provision of a traffic control organisation to allow rapid movement of military formations to their mission areas. Other wartime rules include control of prisoners of war and refugees. Traditionally, the Military Police have also had a considerable involvement at state and ceremonial occasions. In recent years the Military Police have been deployed in many UN missions (such as Iran and Iraq) and later in the former Yugoslavia (SFOR). They enjoy a very close working relationship with the Garda Síochána at national and local levels. The Gardaí assist in providing specialist police training to the Military Police in the field of crime investigation.

Communications[edit]

The CIS corps is a support corps responsible for installing, maintaining and operating telecommunications equipment and information systems.

Rank structure[edit]

The rank structure of the Irish Army is organised along standard military rank and command structures. These consist of the following ranks:

Officer Ranks[edit]

Equivalent NATO Code OF-8 OF-7 OF-6 OF-5 OF-4 OF-3 OF-2 OF-1 OF-Cdt
Republic of Ireland
Ireland

IE-Army-OF8.png IE-Army-OF7.png IE-Army-OF6.png IE-Army-OF5.png IE-Army-OF4.png IE-Army-OF3.png IE-Army-OF2.png IE-Army-OF1a.png IE-Army-OF1b.png IE-Army-OF0a.png IE-Army-OF0b.png
Leifteanant-Ghinearál Maor-Ghinearál Briogáidire-Ghinearál Coirnéal Leifteanant-Choirnéal Ceannfort Captaen Leifteanant Dara Leifteanant Dalta Sinsir Dalta Sóisir
English Equivalent Lieutenant-General Major-General Brigadier-General Colonel Lieutenant-Colonel Commandant Captain Lieutenant Second Lieutenant Senior Cadet Junior Cadet
Abbreviation Lt Gen Maj Gen Brig Gen Col Lt Col Comdt Capt Lt 2nd Lt Sr Cdt Jr Cdt

Other Rank Insignia[edit]

Equivalent NATO Code OR-9 OR-8 OR-7 OR-6 OR-5 OR-4 OR-3 OR-2 OR-1
Republic of Ireland
Ireland

IE-Army-OR9a.png IE-Army-OR9b.png IE-Army-OR8.png IE-Army-OR7.png IE-Army-OR6.png IE-Army-OR4.png IE-Army-OR3.png IE-Army-OR2.png No Insignia
Maor-Sáirsint Cathláin/Reisiminte Ceathrúsháirsint Cathláin/Reisiminte Sáirsint Complachta Ceathrúsháirsint Complacht Sáirsint Ceannaire Saighdiúr Singil, 3 Réalta Saighdiúr Singil, 2 Réalta Earcach
English Equivalent Battalion/Regimental Sergeant Major Battalion/Regimental Quartermaster Sergeant Company Sergeant Company Quartermaster Sergeant Sergeant Corporal Private/Gunner/Trooper 3 Star Private 2 Star Recruit
Abbreviation BSM/RSM BQMS/RQMS BS/CS/SS BQ/CQ/SQ Sgt Cpl Pte/Gnr/Tpr 3* Pte 2* Rec

Weapons[edit]

Army parade (march past) with Steyr AUG service rifles in service dress

The Army has historically purchased and used weapons and equipment from other western countries, mainly from European nations. Generally all equipment is of NATO standard design. Ireland has a very limited arms industry and rarely produces its own armaments.

In the beginning, the Army used the British-made Lee-Enfield .303 rifle, which would be the mainstay for many decades after independence. In the 1960s some modernisation came with the introduction of the Belgian made FN FAL 7.62 mm assault rifle.

Currently the standard weapon for an Irish Army soldier is the Austrian-made Steyr AUG 5.56 mm assault rifle (used in the other branches of the Defence Forces). The Steyr began to replace the older FAL in 1989.

Other weapons in use by the Army are the USP pistol, FN MAG machine gun, .5 M2 Browning machine gun, SRAAW AT4, FGM-148 Javelin Anti-tank guided missile, L118 105mm Howitzer, RBS 70 and RBS 90 Surface to Air Missile system.

Name Origin Type Calibre Quantity Photo Notes
Pistol
Heckler & Koch USP  Germany Semi-automatic Pistol 9x19 mm HK USP 9mm Pragl.jpg Service pistol
Assault Rifle
Steyr AUG  Austria Assault Rifle 5.56x45 mm AUG A1 508mm 04.jpg Service rifle
Sniper rifle
Accuracy International AI 92  United Kingdom Sniper rifle 7.62x51 mm (.308)
Accuracy International Arctic Warfare Magnum  United Kingdom Sniper rifle 8.6×70 mm (.338)
FN FAL  Belgium Sniper rifle 7.62x51 mm
Machine gun
FN MAG  Belgium Machine gun 7.62x51 mm
M2 Browning machine gun  United States/ Belgium Machine gun 12.7x99 mm (.50) Machine gun M2 1.jpg
Grenade launcher
Diemaco M203 grenade launcher  Canada Grenade launcher 40x46 mm M203 1.jpg
Heckler & Koch GMG  Germany Grenade launcher 40x53 mm HKGMW.jpg
Anti-tank Weapon
AT4 Short Range Anti-Armour Weapon (SRAAW)  Sweden Anti-tank Weapon 84 mm AT-4Launcher.jpeg
Carl Gustav recoilless rifle  Sweden Anti-tank Weapon 84 mm Carl Gustav recoilless rifle.jpg
Javelin Anti-tank guided weapon  United States Anti-tank Weapon 127 mm
Mortar
Denel Vektor M1 60mm Mortar  South Africa Mortar 60 mm
Hocthkiss Brandt 81mm Mortar  Austria Mortar 81 mm
Ruag M87 120mm Mortar   Switzerland Mortar 120 mm
Army Ranger Wing (Special Forces)
SIG Sauer P226   Switzerland Semi-automatic Pistol 9x19 mm SIG Sauer P226 neu.jpg
Benelli M4  Italy Semi-automatic Shotgun 12 gauge Benelli m4 2.jpg
Steyr AUG A2  Austria Assault Rifle 5.56x45 mm AUG A2 407mm klein 03.jpg
Steyr AUG A3  Austria Assault Rifle 5.56x45 mm Steyr AUG A3.jpg
Heckler & Koch HK416  Germany Assault Rifle 5.56x45 mm
Heckler & Koch MP5  Germany Submachine Gun 9x19 mm MP5.jpg
Heckler & Koch HK417  Germany Sniper rifle 7.62x51 mm
Accuracy International AW50  United Kingdom Anti-materiel rifle 12.7x99 mm (.50)

Vehicles[edit]

Army Mowag Piranha AFV, at 2006 Easter Military Parade, Dublin

The Army has historically preferred light armoured vehicles to the heavy armour types used by other European nations, and this preference continues today. The Army has purchased 80 Swiss made Mowag Piranha Armoured personnel carriers which have become the Army's primary vehicle in the Mechanized infantry role. These are equipped with 12.7 mm HMGs, or the Oto Melara 30 mm Autocannon. The army also has 27 RG Outrider light tactical armoured vehicles.[42] The Army has no tanks as such but does have a variant of the FV101 Scorpion light armoured reconnaissance vehicle, with a 76.2 mm main gun.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Defence Forces Strength (Dáil Éireann Debate - Written Answers Nos 12-22 - 18 September 2014 - responses from the Minister for Defence)". Dáil Éireann Hansard. 18 September 2014. Retrieved 19 September 2014. 
  2. ^ a b The Defence Forces are made up of the Permanent Defence Forces - the standing branches - and the Reserve Defence Forces. The Army is part of the PDF.
  3. ^ Department of Defence and Defence Forces Annual Report 2012
  4. ^ a b c Irish Defence Forces Press Office. "Irish Army - Organisation and brigade structure". Official Defence Forces Website. Retrieved 13 December 2012. 
  5. ^ a b Irish Defence Forces Press Office (30 November 2012). "Ceremonial Stand Down Parade of the 4th Western Brigade". Official Defence Forces Website. Retrieved 13 December 2012. 
  6. ^ Cottrell, Peter: The Irish Civil War 1922-23, p.23,+ p.51, Osprey Publishing Ltd. (2008) ISBN 978-1-84603-270-7
  7. ^ Edward Purdon, The Irish Civil War
  8. ^ "Workers Solidarity Movement | Anarchist organisation in Ireland". Wsm.ie. Retrieved 2013-01-23. 
  9. ^ Irish Times March 10th, 1924 10 Mar 2012
  10. ^ Notes on the background of the 1924 "mutiny" by Garret Fitzgerald, 2003
  11. ^ The Establishment of Defence Forces
  12. ^ DEFENCE FORCES (TEMPORARY PROVISIONS) ACT, 1923
  13. ^ a b [1][dead link]
  14. ^ a b c "Department of Defence - About Us". Defence.ie. Retrieved 2013-01-23. 
  15. ^ Donal MacCarron, The Irish Defence Forces, Osprey 2004
  16. ^ Office of an An Coimisinéir Teanga - Scéim Óglaigh na hÉireann 2006-2009
  17. ^ "Pardon for WWII Allies deserters - The Irish Times - Tue, Jun 12, 2012". The Irish Times. 2012-06-12. Retrieved 2013-01-23. 
  18. ^ Paul Williams (2013-05-07). "Shatter finally brings in amnesty for deserters who fought Nazis". The Irish Independent. Retrieved 2013-05-10. 
  19. ^ Militarychaplaincy.ie - In Remembrance - List of personnel who died on service overseas
  20. ^ "Still no justice for slain Irish soldiers". Independent.ie. 1980-04-18. Retrieved 2014-07-16. 
  21. ^ "Alleged killer of Irish troops faces deportation - RTÉ News". Rte.ie. Retrieved 2014-07-16. 
  22. ^ a b "Current Missions | Overseas | Defence Forces". Military.ie. Retrieved 2013-07-31. 
  23. ^ "12 April 2013 - Defence Forces Troops Prepare For Deployment to Lebanon | News & Events | Press Office | Defence Forces". Military.ie. 2013-04-12. Retrieved 2013-12-03. 
  24. ^ "171 Irish troops due home as their replacements settle in for Christmas in Lebanon". TheJournal.ie. 2013-11-27. Retrieved 2013-12-03. 
  25. ^ "Father and son among troops in latest Lebanon deployment". BreakingNews.ie. 2013-11-07. Retrieved 2013-12-03. 
  26. ^ Military.ie - Overseas Operations - United Nations Iraq-Kuwait Observation Mission
  27. ^ Department of Defence - Press Release Cabinet approval for continued deployment of troops serving in Liberia
  28. ^ Tom Brady (2004-01-08). "Crack troops rescue hostages from gunmen in daring raid". Irish Independent. Retrieved 2009-04-13. 
  29. ^ Military.ie - Overseas Operations - UNMIL
  30. ^ "Christmas peace makers". Irish Independent. 22 December 2008. 
  31. ^ Press release (20 November 2007). "Minister for Defence, Willie O’Dea secures Cabinet approval for Chad mission". Department of Defence. Retrieved 4 July 2010. 
  32. ^ "EU Military Operation in Eastern Chad and North Eastern Central African Republic (EUFOR Tchad/RCA)". consilium.europa.eu. March 2009. p. 1. Retrieved 1 July 2010. 
  33. ^ RTÉ News - 50 Irish troops arrive in Chad - 21 February 2008
  34. ^ Phelan, Shane (20 November 2008). "New peace mission on cards". Irish Independent. 
  35. ^ Irish Examiner - Irish troops begin return from Chad - 19 May 2010
  36. ^ Irish Independent - Irish troops returning from Chad - 19 May 2010
  37. ^ "Irish troops fired on by Syrian rebel units". irishtimes.com. Retrieved 30 Nov 2013. 
  38. ^ a b "Defence Forces Deployment (Dáil Éireann Debate - Written Answers Nos 12-22 - 18 September 2014 - responses from the Minister for Defence)". Dáil Éireann Hansard. 18 September 2014. Retrieved 19 September 2014. 
  39. ^ Defence Forces - Army
  40. ^ Paul O'Brien (12 July 2012). "Move to 'save' Western Brigade". Official Defence Forces Website. Retrieved 13 December 2012. 
  41. ^ Department of Defence press release, 17 July 2012
  42. ^ Don Lavery (2013-05-01). "Veteran armoured car fleet retired". Independent.ie. Retrieved 2013-05-08. 

External links[edit]