The Defence Forces White Paper on Defence (2000) sets out the roles of the Defence Forces as follows:
- to defend the State against armed aggression; this being a contingency, preparations for its implementation will depend on an ongoing Government assessment of the security and defence environment;
- to aid the civil power (meaning in practice to assist, when requested, the Garda Síochána, who have primary responsibility for law and order, including the protection of the internal security of the State);
- to participate in multinational peace support, crisis management and humanitarian relief operations in support the United Nations and under UN mandate including regional security missions authorised by the UN;
- to provide fishery protection service in accordance with the State’s obligations as a member of the EU; and,
- to carry out such other duties as may be assigned to them from time to time, e.g. search and rescue, air ambulance service, Ministerial air transport service, assistance on the occasion of natural or other disasters, assistance in connection with the maintenance of essential services, assistance in combating oil pollution at sea.
How We Are Organised
The Defence Forces are organised on conventional military lines providing a sufficiently flexible structure to carry out all the roles assigned by Government. The Defence Forces consist of a Permanent Defence Force (PDF) and a Reserve Defence Force (RDF). The former is a standing force and provides the primary capabilities for joint military operations at home and combined military Peace Support Operations abroad. The RDF provides the necessary contingent conventional military capability to augment and assist the PDF, when necessary. The Permanent Defence Force consists of an Army, an Air Corps and a Naval Service.
The Minister for Defence has an office in the Department of Defence (DOD) and Defence Forces (DF) Headquarters building which is located on Station Road in Newbridge. The Defence Forces Chief of Staff liaises with the Minister for Defence on all Defence related matters.
Defence Forces Headquarters
The Defence Forces Chief of Staffs office is located in the DOD/ DF HQ building on Station Road, Newbridge. The Chief of Staff can liaise directly with his Deputy Chiefs of Staff, DCOS Ops and DCOS Sp, who are co-located in the HQ building. The Minister for Defence and the Secretary General of the Department of Defence are also located in the HQ building.
The Army Brigades
The 1st Brigade is responsible for military operations in the southern region of the country.
Its area of responsibility includes the counties of:
Carlow, Laois, Offaly, Kilkenny, Wexford, Waterford, Cork, Kerry, Limerick Clare, Tipperary and Galway.
HQ of the 1st Brigade (Bde) is located in Collins Barracks, Cork. The other Barracks located in the 1st Brigade area of responsibility (AOR) include:
- Collins Barracks in Cork
- Sarsfield Barracks in Limerick
- Stephens Barracks in Kilkenny
- Kilworth Training Camp in Kilworth
- Dún Ui Mhaoilíosa, Galway
The 2nd Brigade is responsible for military operations in the northern region of the country. Its area of responsibility includes the counties of:
Wicklow, Dublin, Louth, Kildare, Longford, , Meath, Westmeath, Roscommon, Cavan, Monaghan, Donegal, Sligo, Leitrim & Mayo.
HQ of the 2nd Brigade is located in Cathal Brugha Barracks in Rathmines, Dublin. The other Barracks located in the 2nd Brigade area of responsibility (AOR) include:
McKee Barracks , Dublin 7
St Bricins Hospital, Dublin
Gormanstown Camp in Co Meath
Aiken Barracks, Dundalk
Custume Barracks, Athlone
Finner Camp in Ballyshannon
Defence Forces Training Centre
The Defence Forces Training Centre (DFTC) is located in The Curragh Camp in Co Kildare. The DFTC consists of a HQ element and all Defence Forces training, education and logistical units.
The following Defence Forces 'Reserve' Units are also located in the DFTC:
- 1 Mechanised Infantry Company
- 1st Armoured Cavalry Squadron
- The Army Ranger Wing (ARW)
The Air Corps is the air component of the Permanent Defence Forces, based at Casement Aerodrome, Baldonnel, Co. Dublin. Today, approximately 750 men and women serve in the Air Corps, each making a unique and significant contribution to fulfilling the roles, both primary and secondary as assigned by government. HQ of the Air Corp is located in Casement Aerodrome in Baldonnel, Dublin 22.
The Naval Service is based on Haulbowline Island. It has an authorised maximum strength of 1,144 personnel and comprises a flotilla of eight ships. The key characteristics of the Naval Service flotilla are those of a rapid reaction, flexible and multi-capable force able to sustain the maximum number of patrol days within the constraints of the resources available. HQ of the Naval Service is located in Haulbowline, Cobh, Co Cork.