12 April 2013 - Defence Forces Troops Prepare For Deployment to Lebanon.

332 Defence Forces troops from the 108th IRISHFINN Battalion are today (12th of April 2013) entering the final phase of intense training in preparation for their forthcoming deployment to the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL).

The 108th IRISHFINN Battalion will deploy to Lebanon in May, taking over duties from the 107th IRISHFINN Battalion who have been serving with UNIFIL since November 2012.

The Mission Readiness Exercise puts commanders and soldiers through a demanding series of scenarios based on the current situation in Lebanon and potential threats that may be encountered in the volatile mission area. In the last number of days the troops have faced a series of scenarios involving simulated explosive strikes, air mobile helicopter drills, anti ambush tactics, detailed operational planning and medical evacuation exercises.

Deputy Chief of Staff (Operations) Major General Ralph James visited the exercise today and stated “This Mission Readiness Exercise is testing our troops across a spectrum of realistic simulated peace support scenarios. This training has been realistic and thoroughly robust. I am confident that this unit will maintain the excellent reputation of the Irish Defence Forces in this troubled region and I wish them well on their forthcoming tour of duty.”

The 108th IRISHFINN Battalion will be commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Anthony McKenna, from Cahir, Co Tipperary who is currently the Officer Commanding the 12th Infantry Battalion in Sarsfield Barracks, Limerick. Lt Col McKenna, who has over 32 years experience in the Army and has previously deployed overseas to Somalia, Syria, Chad and Afghanistan, stated “I am looking forward to the honour of taking command of this combined Irish Finnish Unit on overseas service, this volatile mission area will always test peacekeepers but I know this unit is up to the challenge.”

The 177 Finnish Soldiers deployed by their country are an integral part of the IRISHFINN Battalion. Both Ireland and Finland share a common, solid reputation in peacekeeping worldwide as well trained and impartial professionals. Irish and Finnish Troops have most recently served together in joint units in Kosovo and Chad. Six Finnish Officers are participating in this exercise ahead of their deployment. The Irish Defence Forces have extensive experience of the culture, geography and the people of South Lebanon and are proud to contribute to the Peace and Security in the region.

The Defence Forces have 55 continuous years experience on peacekeeping operations in some of the most hostile regions around the globe, protecting some of the most vulnerable people in the world. 86 Irish Soldiers have lost their lives on overseas service since 1958 with 47 making the ultimate sacrifice in Lebanon.

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Press Release Date: 12 April, 2013

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