26th April 2012 - Irish and Finnish Defence Forces Troops Complete First Joint Exercise .

331 Irish soldiers and 10 Finnish Defence Forces soldiers have completed the final phase of an intensive three week joint training exercise in the Glen of Imaal, Wicklow today. This is the first time a joint pre-deployment exercise has been carried out in Ireland involving both Irish and Finnish soldiers. The 10 Finnish staff officers are part of a larger group of 177 Finnish soldiers who will form one combined unit under Irish command, the 106 IRISHFINN Battalion, and will deploy to Lebanon in May.

The 106 IRISHFINN Battalion’s mission will involve the monitoring of the cessation of hostilities along the International ‘Blue Line’ between Lebanon and Israel, ensuring no armed elements other than the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) are operating within the area and joint patrolling of South Lebanon with the LAF.

Chief of Staff of the Defence Forces Lieutenant General Sean McCann visited the exercise today and remarked:

“Peace Support Operations have become increasingly complex and it's important that both the Irish and Finnish troops were rigorously tested. The professionalism, cooperation and thorough preparation that I have seen here today will ensure that they can carry out their mission and represent Ireland, Finland and the United Nations with pride.”

This “Mission Readiness Exercise” puts commanders and soldiers through a demanding series of complex Peace Support Operation scenarios based on the current situation in Lebanon and potential threats that may be encountered in this volatile mission area. The scenarios involved encountering roadside Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), violence escalation scenarios, first aid, negotiation techniques, medical heli evacuation and the use of conventional military weapon systems and equipment.

The 106th IRISHFINN Battalion will deploy to Lebanon in May, taking over duties from the all Irish 105th Battalion who have been serving with the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) since November last year.

Commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Brian Monahan from Dublin, the 106 IRISHFINN BATT is drawn principally from the 2 Eastern Brigade (mainly Leinster) and has been in training for the past three months. Lieutenant Colonel Monahan when discussing the challenge ahead stated.

“While the command of Irish Soldiers deployed overseas is a great honour and the highpoint of any officer's service, to lead an IRISHFINN Battalion is particularly special. I am looking forward to the experience of working with my Finnish colleagues in this challenging mission."   

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Press Release Date:  27 April 2012

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