Thursday, 29 December 2016 - Defence Forces Year in Review.

The Defence Forces are proud to have been tasked by Government to play such a central role in the 1916 Centenary Commemorative programme. Notwithstanding the ceremonial activities performed during 2016, Óglaigh na hÉireann maintained operations, contributing to security both at home and internationally in 15 countries and one sea.

Below is a sample of the breadth of activities undertaken by the Defence Forces in 2016.

*Statistics quoted are provisional to date and are subject to finalisation in the 2016 Annual Report which will be published in early 2017.

International Operations

The Defence Forces have the longest unbroken record of overseas service of any country in the world since first deploying to a United Nations mission in 1958. Some details of the Defence Forces contribution to international peace and security, on behalf of Ireland, are below:

  • In 2016 over 1400 Defence Forces personnel served in overseas Peace Support and Security operations in 15 countries and one sea.
  • Currently over 600 Defence Forces personnel are serving in 15 countries.
  • The largest Defence Forces deployments are to South Lebanon with UNIFIL with 380 personnel deployed create a safe and secure environment; and to the Golan Heights where 140 personnel are deployed as a Disengagement Observer Force.
  • The Defence Forces deployed three Naval ships and over 150 Naval Service and Army personnel to the Mediterranean this year in response to the humanitarian crisis supporting the Italian Marine Rescue Co-Ordination Centre with Search and Rescue assistance.
  • The total number of migrants rescued in 2016 by the men and women of Óglaigh na nÉireann was 7,029 and over 15,500 since operations began in 2015.

Domestic Operations

Defence Forces are deployed in Aid to Civil Power & Aid to the Civil Authority operations on a daily basis supporting An Garda Síochána, HSE, Local Authorities etc.  Some examples of these activities are:

  • Over 220 aid to the civil power operations in support of An Garda Siochána involving Explosive Ordnance Disposal (Bomb Squad) call outs, Prisoner Escorts, Explosive Escorts, major cash Escorts and Engineer Specialist Search Operations.
  • Defence Forces personnel deployed in a major security operation in support of the visit of VPOTUS Biden.
  • Members of the Defence Forces continue to provide a permanent armed guard at Portlaoise Prison.
  • Contributed personnel and expertise supporting the Department of Communications, Climate Action & Environment National Cyber Security Centre.
  • Over 3,000 Defence Forces personnel were deployed throughout a severe weather storm period during December 2015 and January 2016 to assist with flood relief. In addition, over military 500 vehicles including 10 helicopters were provided to support these works.
  • The Naval Service has completed over 1,200 boardings and made 3 detentions so far in 2016 for alleged infringements of fishing regulations, the Air corps conducted over 300 Maritime Surveillance Patrol flights.
  • The Naval Service & Air Corps patrol 220 million maritime acres of sea (over twelve times the land mass of Ireland) representing 15% of Europe’s fisheries.
  • Naval Service Dive Team were deployed 10 times in 2016 including seven separate Search and Recovery operations following requests from the Coast Guard and An Garda Síochána.
  • The Air Corps conducted approximately 400 Emergency Aeromedical Support Services missions supporting the HSE in providing a medical service for seriously ill patients in rural communities.
  • The Air Corps provided 78 inter hospital Air Ambulance service support HSE respond to time critical medical emergencies.
  • Air Corps continues to support the Garda Air Support Unit flights in 2016.
  • The Air Corps conducted 10 Search & Rescue operations in 2016 in support of the IRCG.

State Ceremonial

The Defence Forces were honoured to have been tasked by government to have such a prominent role in the 1916 Centenary Commemorative programme. Below are some examples of the activities undertaken by the Defence Forces as part of the Commemorative programme:

  • The project to deliver a National Flag to all primary schools in the Republic was conducted between 14 September 2015 and 12 March 2016. This project involved 10,000 Defence Forces personnel visiting close to 3,200 schools and presenting them with a handmade National Flag and a copy of the Proclamation.
  • The Centenary Easter Sunday Parade at the GPO included over 2,800 members of the Defence Forces and a display of military vehicles and aircraft watched by over 750,000 people lining the streets if Dublin. 
  • The Defence Forces were honoured to participate centrally in more than 60 national and regional Ceremonial Events in 2016.
  • Defence Forces School of Music Bands and musicians contributed to over 500 individual events in 2016.
  • Also as part of the 2016 State Centenary Programme, the Defence Forces raised the National Flag on O’Connell Street every day in 2016.
  • In September, a ceremony was held in Custume Barracks, Athlone to award a Unit Citation to A Coy, 35 Inf Bn to recognise the courage and professional performance displayed by the members of the Unit while serving with the United Nations at Jadotville in Congo in 1961. 
  • 13 parades were held to award the 1916 Centenary Commemorative Medal to all members of the Defence Forces. The first medals were presented by Uachtarán na hḖireann, Michael D. Higgins and members of the government at a State ceremony in Dublin Castle on 04 December, as part of the Centenary programme. This was followed by 12 regional events in selected military installations nationwide presided over by Minister Kehoe.

Training & Education

We train for what we can predict and we educate for what we can’t predict; the Defence Forces place a significant focus on training and education to ensure that the organisation is prepared to respond to all tasks assigned by government. Below are some examples of the breadth of training and education undertaken by the Defence Forces personnel in 2016.

  • 590 Recruits and 98 cadets were inducted to the Defence Forces and began their military training in 2016.
  • Approximately 1000 Defence Forces personnel underwent overseas pre-deployment mission readiness training ranging from counter IED to medical first responder training, radio and communications skills to armour vehicle driving.
  • 600 Defence Forces personnel underwent 33 career courses developing their leadership, planning and decision making skills.
  • 1350 skills courses were conducted by the Defence Forces in 2016 with 17000 student days developing and maintaining Defence Force capabilities.
  • 69 Defence Forces personnel completed degree courses and 20 completed Masters courses through Continuous Professional Development programmes.
  • A total of 117 internal Defence Forces training courses received external accreditation in 2016.

Innovation & Collaboration

The Defence Forces strives to find innovative solutions to complex modern security challenges, leading through excellence and collaboration. Below are some examples of how the Defence Forces delivered on that:

  • The Ordnance Corp was a consortium member in a successful H2020 project with partners from National University of Ireland, Galway and Italy, Germany, Spain and Portugal where the project secured over €4.7m in research funding. The project is based on the aftermath of a Chemical Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and Explosive (CBRNe) event. The overall goal of ROCSAFE is to fundamentally change how CBRNe events are assessed, in order to ensure the safety of crime scene investigators by reducing the need for them to enter high-risk scenes when they have to determine the nature of threats and gather forensics.  For this ROCSAFE will make use of cost-effective modern remotely-controlled robotic air and ground vehicles (RAVs/RGVs) that are designed for use in rain, wind, and challenging ground surfaces and obstacles.
  • The ‘Game for Peace’ is currently being developed by an EU-wide consortium led by a team of researchers from sociology, computer science and psychology at Trinity College Dublin. The aim of the Virtual Reality immersive experience is to train international military personnel in peacekeeping skills such as communications, cultural sensitivities and gender awareness. The Irish Defence Forces will assist during the testing phase of this project.  

Press Release Date: Thursday, 29th December 2016

For Further Information contact:

Press Officer: Comdt. Pat O'Connor

Tel: 045 49 2502 , 045 49 2503

Mobile : 087 2482130

E-mail: Press Officer