Private A Rowe – 3 Infantry Battalion
What did you do before you were in the Army
Before I was in the Army, after I completed my leaving certificate, I spent 6 months working with a security company installing house alarms. Then I got an apprenticeship in painting and decorating where I spent four years.
How did you come to realize that the Army was right for you
I realised the army was right for me when I researched the career and personal development opportunities available to me in the Defence Forces
What was the most enjoyable thing you have done in your Training recently
The most fun thing I have done recently in my training was being part of the first rugby team in Kilkenny Barracks. I have always enjoyed being part of team sports and watching the team grow and develop has been very enjoyable.
What was the most challenging part of your training
The most challenging part of my training was when I was doing my recruit training, being away from my family and friends, it was very physical training and the long journey every week took its toll.
What are you looking forward to doing in your role in the future
I am looking forward to furthering my career within the Army, availing of all opportunities available to me, hoping to eventually complete a Potential NCO’s Course.
What do you do day to day in your role
My day to day role consists of reporting for duty every morning at 0830 hrs. We go on parade, then after parade I go on personnel training until 1030 hrs. After break I attend lectures on brushing up on old skills and acquiring new ones. Then in the afternoon we go on parade at 1400 hrs, afterwards I attend more lectures or more personal training.
What was the most enjoyable part of your training
The most enjoyable part of my training is improving my map reading skills, as I found this difficult and now I can see the improvement, I enjoy this.
What does your friends/family think about you being in the Army
My friends and family are very happy and proud of me that I am happy and career driven in my job.
Corporal Ken Nagle
Section Commander,4 Infantry Battalion
Describe your role, what you do
I’m a line corporal and section commander within an Infantry Unit. I am responsible for a section of 9 including myself, another Corporal and 7 Privates. I am also a Physical Training Instructor (PTI), Manual Handling and Light Infantry Weapons Instructor and help out with manual handling and physical training within my unit and in the barrack’s gymnasium.
What kind of people/units do you work with
I work with various ranks both male and female. I also work with other Physical Training Instructors, weapons instructors, snipers, signalers, medics etc. Most of the personnel in our unit are very fit and active and operate at a very professional level. We also work on a professional basis with the Cavalry, Artillery, Engineers, Transport, Signals and Ordnance units at home but particularly overseas.
Describe a typical day
Our unit parades at 0900. Every day is different depending on the time of year, in January we are concentrating on our annual range firing practices and everyone in the unit has to be assessed before we go to the range. We are also preparing for our annual fitness test so we are training hard for that doing circuit training, running, spinning etc. As a PTI I am running the fitness side of things. A typical day at the moment would involve weapons training in the morning and physical training in the afternoon.
What do you enjoy most about your job
I enjoy the physical fitness, variety of the nature of work, the challenges that the various courses present both academically and on the ground, the opportunity to make new friends and the experience and financial gains you get from an overseas trip. I also enjoy playing Gaelic Football with the unit.
What have you learnt since being in the Army
There are enormous benefits to be got from joining the Army. I have learnt discipline, the ability to teach others, various weapons drills, physical fitness, the importance of respecting ranks above and below you and the ability to adapt to different situations.
What is your current living situation
I live in Fermoy with my fiancée.
What do you do with your spare time
Sport takes up a big part of my spare time. I play Gaelic Football and Soccer and am currently doing the physical training with the Fermoy GAA team which I thoroughly enjoy. I also like to run and have recently started doing a bit of cycling. I enjoy going to matches, the cinema and socializing with my friends and family.
What made you decide a career in the Army was for you
It would be a lie if I said I was 100% sure of what I wanted to do when I joined but I knew after a very short time that I had made the right decision. My father and grandfather were both in the Army so their influence had a lot to do with it. The variety, physical training and the opportunity to travel overseas were a big part of the decision.
How do your friends and family feel about you being in the army
My friends and family are very supportive of my career although my fiancée finds it tough at times when we work away from home.
Sergeant Mark Cummins Mortar Platoon Sergeant, 5 Infantry Battalion
What is your job
I am the Mortar Platoon Sergeant for the 81mm Mortar Platoon in Support Company in the 5th Infantry Battalion. I have held this position for about 5 years and my responsibilities range from overseeing administration duties for the platoon, continuation training and planning and executing training which involves tactical exercises and 81mm mortar live firing training.
How did you get to this job
From the outset of my career as a Private Soldier in the Defence Forces I have been part of the 81mm Mortar Pl completing a young entry course in 1997. In 2002 at the rank of Corporal, I completed an 81mm Mortar Instructor Course and became a Mortar Command Post Operator (CPO) and Mortar Fire Controller (MFC). Shortly after reaching the rank of Sgt in 2005 I was appointed as Mortar PL Sgt for the 81mm Mortar Pl.
What type of courses have you done
I have completed a wide range of Military courses over the past 16 years. I have completed an 84 mm Anti Tank Young Entry Course (YE), 81mm Mortar YE and Instructor Course, Heavy Machinegun YE Course, Potential NCO’s Course to qualify me to be promoted to the rank of Corporal (Cpl), Infantry Sgt. Standard Course to qualify me to be promoted to the rank of Sgt, Night Vision Equipment Instructor Course, Tess Instructor Course, Basic Driving Course and various computer courses.
What has been the most memorable experience of your career
The most memorable experience of my career was in 2000 while serving on my second tour of duty to South Lebanon as a young Cpl Section commander. During our deployment a withdrawal by the Israeli Defence Forces was planned for July 2000 from the Israeli Controlled Area (ICA). However, this occurred earlier than expected after hostilities broke out between the fighting factions and the Israeli Defence Forces withdrew immediately. Although the situation was extremely dangerous, as fighting continued for a number of days, there was a great feeling of excitement in the air as huge numbers of Lebanese returned to the south of the country. As part of the UN policy Irish Batt commenced patrols into the former ICA as far south as the Lebanese-Israeli border for the first time in over 20 years. You really got a feeling you were part of a major turning point in the history of Lebanon and the Middle East.
What are your plans for the future
My plans for the future are to remain as the Mortar Pl Sgt for the 81mm Mortar Pl in Support Company in the 5th Infantry Battalion. I would like the opportunity to complete a Senior NCO’s Course in order to qualify me to be promoted to the rank of Company Sgt. within the Battalion. I would also plan to travel overseas on any new mission as they arise in the future.
What was your most challenging overseas deployment and why
The most challenging overseas deployment was with the 102 Bn in CHAD in 2010.I was the Pl Sgt for the Mechanised Infantry Platoon which I really enjoyed however; it was a very busy role in ensuring that the Pl was properly prepared for all operational tasks. This was achieved by conducting Continuation Training in theatre for the duration of our deployment in what were extremely harsh weather conditions. Operationally from the outset we were extremely busy working a system of a week patrolling followed by a week security duties in camp during which we worked hard to keep our weapon, equipment and personnel ready for the following weeks patrols. Also with the withdrawal of the Irish Defence Forces from CHAD in May 2010 this increased the work load of the Battalion while trying to stay operationally ready and at the same time break camp which the battalion achieved through hard work and pulling together.
What advice would you give young people who wish to join the Defence Forces
I would advise anyone who wishes to join the Defence forces to ensure that they achieve a high level of fitness before they start recruit training. To be clear in their own mind that this is the job for them as it is not your normal nine to five job. As on many occasions you are expected to spend prolonged periods away from home i.e. during training, overseas etc.
Have you been deployed overseas? If so, tell me about your experiences on deployment
Yes, I have been to Lebanon and Liberia once and Chad twice. I served in Lebanon as a Private in a Weapons Platoon, in Liberia as a Corporal in an Infantry Platoon and both Chad trips as an acting Sergeant in the 60mm Mortar Section of a Weapons Platoon. In Lebanon we acted as a peacekeeping force monitoring and reporting on the activities of the Hezbollah and the Israeli Army. In Liberia we were a Quick Reaction Force ready to be deployed to various troubled areas, we also patrolled on order. The first trip to Chad was during the wet season with a European Union Force (EUFOR) where we patrolled by air and land providing protection to the many refugees and Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs). The second trip was with the United Nations during the dry season and as a result we were able to patrol more extensively. Each trip was a great experience and provided different challenges.