Defence Forces 2016Flags for Schools Initiative

As part of Ireland’s Centenary Programme to commemorate the 1916 Rising, Óglaigh na hÉireann, the Defence Forces, will play a key role in everything from State Ceremonial to assistance for our Local Authorities, our schools and our communities.

The first major task for Defence Forces 2016 is the delivery of an Irish Flag to every Primary School in the country, starting on 14th September 2015.

Read more about the Flags for Schools Initiative and how Óglaigh na hÉireann is supporting Ireland 2016 >>

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ARW Selection Course

There is no age limit for prospective rangers who must undergo a Ranger selection course which takes place annually. According to the Commander age does not count, only physical condition makes the difference. The oldest is 44 and average age is 31. In Timor they mixed the old with the new in a way that made the unit very cohesive. Every year between 40 and 80 candidates arrive and after 4 weeks of a selection course less than 15% remain. These 4 weeks are organised into 2 distinct phases. In phase 1 everybody starts at zero - the instructors showing the basic requirements to become a Ranger, that is to say a Special Forces soldier. Candidates must also pass a number of physical tests, water confidence training, assault course training, individual navigation tests as well as an 8 Km combat run test. On average they will get 4/5 hours sleep per night and are put under constant pressure from instructors and the course alike. If a candidate fails more than 3 out of the 9 basic tests he is returned to his home unit. A selection course may only be attempted 3 times by any candidate.

The 3rd and 4th weeks consist of long range reconnaissance patrolling which incorporates training as well as testing of personnel. Candidates are taught Special Forces tactics, reconnaissance and surveillance, intelligence gathering and the achievements such as the search for enemy forces teams and the organisation of ambushes. The course culminates in a 45 Km march which must be completed in a set time. All candidates who successfully complete the Ranger course are presented with the Fianóglach shoulder flash. Selection is conducted by Officers and NCOs who conduct assessments on the candidates. The best are retained according to the number of places available. On average, Officers spend between 3 and 4 years in the unit.

It is important to emphasise that during this selection course the tests are the same for Officers, NCO's and men. During these weeks there is no rank - only the qualities of the candidates count. For those selected there is still a long way to go. For 6 months they must undergo a Basic Skills Course, this time in an instructional detachment where they continue to wear the black beret. The candidates will receive instruction on all weapons available to the ranger, and all the other skills need to allow them to integrate into the unit. It is only after this course is completed that successful candidates get to wear the coveted green beret of the Army Ranger Wing.

Successful candidates are then integrated into the assault teams in order to learn their trade - long range reconnaissance, combat diving, explosives demolition and parachuting. All parachutists are qualified after 5 jumps and must jump 5 times a year at least. Team members also undergo precision firing, bus/train/plane assault training as well as intelligence gathering and observation techniques. Subsequently, during their time as part of the teams, Rangers specialise in different areas such as combat diving, first aid (all members have basic first aid training given by the Defence Forces Medical School), explosives and demolition training, advanced driving training etc.