The Defence Forces ended 2022 with the tragic events that occurred in South Lebanon, which remind us all that military life carries with it inherent risk and sometimes comes with the ultimate cost being paid.
As soldiers, sailors and aircrew we are keenly aware of our commitment to achieving the mission. While Seán Rooney's memory will never be forgotten by any of us, we take example from the men and women of the 121st Infantry Battalion, who honour their colleagues and their families every day of their deployment in the manner in which they resolutely continue their mission. Their continued commitment to providing the ordinary people of South Lebanon with a relatively safe and stable environment in which to live and raise their families serves as an inspiration to us all.
DOMESTIC OPERATIONS 2022
The Defence Forces conducted a wide range of Defence & Security Operations in 2022. Our deployments (other than COVID related activities) included Aid to Civil Power (ATCP) & Aid to the Civil Authority (ATCA) operations on a daily basis supporting An Garda Síochána, Local Authorities and other key agencies of the State. Some examples of these activities are:
The Army conducted over 128 Aid to the Civil Power Operations in support of An Garda Síochána involving Explosive Ordnance Disposal (Bomb Squad) call outs, Prisoner Escorts, Explosive Escorts, Cash Escorts and Search Operations.
In addition, members of the Defence Forces continued to carry out a 365 day armed guard at Ireland’s only maximum-security prison, Portlaoise Prison, as well as the Central Bank, Irish Industrial Explosives and Government Buildings.
Personnel were deployed throughout the year to assist civil authorities during multiple operations, including the construction of a temporary bailey bridge crossing the Boyne River in Co. Meath following flooding; the extinguishing of gorse fires by Air Corps crews in Mayo, Wicklow and Dublin and assistance to the “Climb with Charlie” charity event in Co. Mayo.
The Naval Service conducted 350 fisheries boarding’s resulting in three (3) detentions. The Naval Service patrols 220 million maritime acres of sea (over twelve times the land mass of Ireland) representing 15% of Europe’s fisheries. Fishing vessels from Ireland, the United Kingdom, France, Spain, Netherlands, Norway, Russia, and Belgium were boarded and inspected in 2022.
The Naval Service Dive Section (NSDS) was deployed on four (4) occasions. Operations included search and rescue and recovery of missing persons.
Search and Rescue (SAR) - There were five (5) separate search and rescue responses from the NS in 2022.
The Joint Task Force on drugs was operational and is a combined effort involving the NS, Air Corps, Revenue and AGS.
The NS carried out ten (10) Foreign visits in 2022 including the UK, Portugal, Spain, Holland, the US and Canada.
The Air Corps conducts a variety of roles in the air domain and supports other DF components in the maritime and land domains through the provision of air assets. In addition to national operations, the Air Corps also continued to conduct international operations in support of the Defence Forces and government departments using its fleet of fixed-wing and rotary-wing aircraft. The following summary outlines some operations that were conducted in 2022:
· The Air Corps responded to more than 415 Emergency Aeromedical Services (EAS) missions supporting the National Ambulance Service (NAS) in providing a medical service for seriously ill patients.
· The Air Corps conducted in excess of 450 hours of Maritime Surveillance Patrol (MARPAT) flights.
· The Air Corps conducted 49 inter-hospital Air Ambulance tasks both nationally and internationally to the UK and mainland Europe.
· The Air Corps responded to several requests to provide aerial fire-fighting in Mayo, Wicklow and Dublin in order to protect property in an ATCA role.
· The Air Corps continued to support Garda Air Support Unit operations.
· The Air Corps continued to provide flights as required to an Garda Síochana in order to repatriate persons who are the subject of EU removal and exclusion orders.
International Operations 2022
The Irish Defence Forces has the longest unbroken record of overseas service with the United Nations of any country in the world since first deploying to a United Nations' mission in 1958.
In 2022, Defence Forces personnel were deployed on United Nations, NATO PfP (Partnership for Peace), EU CSDP (Common Security and Defence Policy) and OSCE Peace Support and Crisis Management Operations across 13 missions in 11 countries. There are currently 550 Defence Forces personnel serving overseas.
The largest Defence Forces deployment overseas is with the United National Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), where 353 Irish soldiers currently serve. This includes an Infantry Battalion, who patrol along the Blue Line (line of demarcation between Lebanon and Israel) in the South in order to maintain a safe and secure environment. Since November 2019, Ireland has partnered with Poland on this mission, enhancing and developing our interoperability with Partner Nations. The Armed Forces of Malta (AFM) and the Hungarian Armed Forces also contribute personnel to IRISHPOLBATT.
The second largest deployment for the Defence Forces is with the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) in the Golan Heights, Syria, where 134 Irish soldiers currently serve. The Irish Infantry Group provides UNDOF's Force Reserve Company which acts as the mission's Quick Reaction Force (QRF). Irish staff officers also serve in UNDOF HQ.
The Defence Forces has 14 Irish soldiers who serve with European Union Training Mission (EUTM) Mali, delivering education and training to the Malian Armed Forces. In Sep 2022, the Defence Forces concluded its participation with the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) with an Army Ranger Wing (ARW) Task Unit serving with the German-led Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance (ISR) Task Force in the east of the country since 2019.
The Defence Forces also has a number of soldiers deployed to missions such as EUFOR in Bosnia & Herzegovina and KFOR in Kosovo. Since early Dec 2022, the Defence Forces has one staff officer deployed to the EU Military Assistance Mission Ukraine EUMAM UA. This Staff Officer is part of a planning cell co-ordinating the delivery of training to the Ukrainian Armed Forces (UAF) with the EU Military Staff in Brussels. Pending Government decision, the Defence Forces is planning to deploy a small number of staff to this mission in 2023.
The Defence Forces currently has three personnel (2 x Naval Service, 1 x Air Corps) deployed to the Operational HQ of the EU Naval Force Mediterranean (EUNAVFORMED) Operation 'Irini' (Greek for 'peace') in Rome. The operation’s core task is the implementation of the UN arms embargo on Libya through the use of aerial, satellite, and maritime assets. One if its secondary tasks is to disrupt the business model of human smuggling and trafficking networks.
Since joining the United Nations in 1955, Ireland has served on the Security Council on four occasions: 1962; 1981 - 1982; and 2001 - 2002. On 01 January 21, Ireland began its fourth term on the Security Council, playing a constructive role to help prevent conflicts and build peace around the world.
INNOVATION AND COLLABORATION 2022
Funding from DPER through OPS2020 for the Air Corps I’m Safe Project.
For the fourth year in a row the Defence Forces were successful in winning a grant from the OPS 2020 Innovation fund. The grant of €43,000 is supporting the I’M SAFE project. This project is a fusion of a clearly defined operational necessity with process and technology will deliver an outcome in the form of smart application that enables Air Corps users track all ratings across all pilots and aircrew.
Our Public Service
OPS continues to grow from strength to strength. The Defence Forces continue to make a significant contribution to this DPER initiative. Representatives from the Army, Navy and Air Corps have been speakers at OPS events throughout the year.
Research Technology and Innovation (RTI) Unit.
Defence formed a joint civil/military RTI unit in Jan 2021. This unit has become the focal point for the Defence Innovation ecosystem, as the connectors across Government, Industry, Academia, and the Irish Start-Up community. In addition the unit has the assumed responsibilities and objectives of the Defence Enterprise Committee (DEC) while acting as the National Focal Point (NFP) for industry to engage with the European Defence Fund (EDFA). The Defence partnership with Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) has produced high standards of research innovation with the final award prizes of €1.0m and €0.5m to be announced in Jan 2023 following review from an independent international panel of external academic experts. The RTI unit is actively seeking further collaborations and partnerships to assist us to change from within. Through 2022, the RTI Unit has developed two innovation programmes, Defence Innovate enables personnel across the organisation to pitch for up to €15,000 of funding to support an innovation solution, Defence Sparx is a 3 month innovation accelerator programme addressing organisational challenge themes. Five teams will deliver executive pitches for the conceptual solutions. The unit is not designed to predict the future, it is designed to bring great ideas and people together.
Chief of Staff Innovation Awards
The Chief of Staff’s Innovation Awards will be held in the Guinness Enterprise Centre (GEC) in early 2023 to align with final pitches of the Defence Sparx Programme. Building on the success of previous awards, the participation was once again very strong. The adjudication process remains diverse and independent with representatives from UCD Innovation Academy and Microsoft Ireland contributing their expert analysis and judgement.
Defence Forces inducted 350 (24 female) General Service Recruits in 2022, as well as 20 (1 Female) Air Corps Apprentice Aircraft Technicians.
42 Cadets (10 Female) were also inducted to the Defence Forces and began their military training in 2022. Seven of those cadets were serving members who joined from enlisted ranks.
14 previously retired members have re-joined the Defence Forces across all ranks, corps and services during 2022.
TRAINING & EDUCATION 2022
The 2022 Commission on the Defence Forces report describes the delivery of training and education in the Defence Forces (DF) as a cornerstone of military life, and therefore one of the most important outputs of the organisation. Accordingly, when not on operations, the primary focus of the Defence Forces is the development and subsequent delivery of Training and Education.
During 2022, these activities continued to be central to retaining and developing capability. Table below summarises the outputs delivered by the Defence Forces’ Training and Education Branch during the year.
Number of Courses completed in Defence Forces training installations
Number of Students
*Other courses are the type that are completed annually e.g. Manual Handling, Response team briefings and COVID-19 awareness briefings. These briefings are recorded as a course for certification that it is complete.
Career progression in the Defence Forces is facilitated by successful completion of the relevant primary career progression courses. During 2022, a total of 426 personnel completed 18 primary career progression courses across a range of areas, as illustrated hereunder.
Primary Career Courses conducted
No. of Courses
No. of Students
Potential NCO (Naval Service)
Potential NCO (Army)
Potential NCO (Air Corps) Mod 1
Potential NCO (Air Corps) Mod 2
Junior NCO Logistics Course
Standard NCO Course (Naval Service)
Standard NCO Course (All Corps)
All Arms Standard NCO Course
Young Officers Course (All Corps) (2 Ongoing)
Land Command and Staff Course
Joint Command and Staff Course
During 2022, the Leadership, Management and Defence Studies (LMDS) Programme for enlisted personnel continued to develop and to be a source of significant success for the Defence Forces and its members. On 12 January 2023, 206 personnel were conferred with awards achieved in 2022 by SETU, including 64 with a Higher Level Certificate in LMDS (Level 6), 81 with a Minor Award in LMDS (Level 7), 53 being conferred with a BA LMDS (Logistics) (Level 7). 8 personnel will be conferred with master’s degrees: 5 Masters of Science in Communications Technology Management and 3 Masters of Engineering. The total number of personnel conferred with awards by IT Carlow/SETU under the LMDS Programme is 1,816 since its inception in 2012. The Defence Forces’ Training and Education Branch continues to promote the benefits of the Programme among soldiers, sailors, and aircrew of 3* Private rank and to attract them to join the LMDS Programme.
Defence Forces Officers continued participating in the collaborative LMDS programme with Maynooth University throughout 2022. In total, 102 Awards were conferred by Maynooth University in November 2022. This included 51 Special Purpose Awards at Level 7 (LMDS) associated with Cadet Training. 27 personnel graduated with Level 8 Higher Diplomas in Leadership and Contemporary Security associated with the Land Command and Staff Course, and 24 personnel completed a Master of Arts (Level 9 - LMDS) related to the Joint Command and Staff Course.
THIRD-LEVEL OFFICER SCHEME
Under the Third Level Officer Scheme, Defence Forces Commissioned Officers who, on induction to the Cadet School, had not completed a bachelor’s degree programme at Level 8 shall be afforded the opportunity to earn an appropriate degree. There are currently 130 Officers attending Higher Education Institutions. In 2022, 17 personnel completed their third-level studies.
LEADERSHIP, MANAGEMENT AND NAVAL STUDIES PROGRAMME
In 2022, The National Maritime College of Ireland (NMCI) conferred Leadership, Management and Naval Studies (LMNS) awards at Level 6 to 26 personnel and Level 7 to 10 personnel. NMCI also conferred BSC Nautical Science awards at Level 7 to 6 personnel and Level 8 to 6 personnel.
TRAINEE TECHNICIAN SCHEME
The Defence Forces operates a Trainee Technician Scheme to meet the technical education needs of the organisation. Options within the scheme range from traditional trades such as carpentry, plumbing, electrical, in the Engineer Corps, to heavy vehicle mechanic in Transport Corps to more military technical specialist roles such as armourer in the Ordnance Corps, or Communication Information Services (CIS) technicians in the CIS Corps. Both the Naval Service and Air Corps also conduct technical training to qualify personnel in the technical skills appropriate to their roles.
During 2022, a total of 28 personnel qualified under the army’s Trainee Technician Scheme (TTS). Successful trainees comprised of 14 CIS Corps students (Level 7), 8 Ordnance Corps Students (Level 7), and 6 Engineer Corps students (Level 6).
Within the Naval Service (NS) during 2022, 18 personnel were conferred under the Naval Service Trainee Technician Scheme with 6 personnel being awarded a National Trade Certificate (Level 6) and 12 personnel being awarded a Level 7 Bachelor of Engineering from Munster Technological University.
Within the Air Corps during 2022, 19 Air Corps apprentices were awarded a Bachelor of Engineering (Level 7) from TUD upon completion of their apprenticeship as Aircraft Technicians.
The numbers of personnel that availed of external courses either at home or courses/training abroad are as follows:
Attended training activities abroad to date - 456
Availed of External Courses at home - 2,337
Training for Overseas
Throughout 2022, the conduct of essential Pre-Deployment Training, for both units and individuals being deployed to overseas missions, (e.g. UNIFIL, UNDOF and EUTM Mali), was coordinated by Defence Forces’ Training and Education Branch in collaboration with the Military College in the Defence Forces Training Centre (DFTC) and assisted by the lead formation.
Four Mission Readiness Exercises were conducted for larger troop deployments to UNIFIL and UNDOF involving 828 troops in order to certify minimum capability and competence prior to deployment. The Domestic Exercise Evaluation Model (DEEM) was used for the first time in 2022, to evaluate the four Field Training Exercises which are conducted as part of the Mission Readiness Exercises for UNIFIL and UNDOF. The DEEM allows for evaluation in line with international best practice and provides both an initial and final feedback report for the commander. A further two Overseas Qualification Courses were conducted for 40 personnel who deployed on smaller Missions.
The Defence Forces also engaged in external and foreign training and education activities during 2022 to facilitate organisational learning and to ensure that training, education and capability development gaps are identified and addressed. In total, the Defence Forces participated in 182 foreign activities involving 456 personnel. This engagement helps to ensure that the Defence Forces remain up-to-date with regard to best international practice in terms of military thinking and expertise and ensures that the Defence Forces remain interoperable both at home and overseas.
2022 CEREMONIAL YEAR IN REVIEW
The Defence Forces participated in almost 40 significant military and State ceremonial events in 2022. In January the Defence Forces participated in a State ceremony to mark the centenary of the formal handover of Dublin castle at which President Higgins attended.
The Defence Forces participated in the National Famine Commemoration, held this year in The National Famine Museum, Strokestown, Co Roscommon in May at which the Taoiseach attended.
The President of Ireland received ceremonial honours on his departure to Malta for a State visit in May. State ceremonial honours were afforded on the occasion of the State visit to Ireland of the President of The Portuguese Republic in October. Military honours were also afforded to the President of Fiji when he visited UNTSI, DFTC in July.
The Defence Forces celebrated Veterans’ Day in McKee Barracks in June where members of ONE, IUNVA and ARCO paraded along with Unit Veteran Associations.
A ceremony took place in Beál na mBláth, Co Cork in August to commemorate the centenary of the death of Gen Michael Collins, this event was significantly supported by The Defence Forces.
The Defence Forces Remembrance Ceremony was held at The National Memorial, Merrion Square in November to remember the 10 members of the Defence Forces who lost their lives in the past 12 months. As part of this ceremony the Minister of State for Defence, the Chief of Staff and families of the deceased laid wreaths at The National Memorial.
In December a ceremony took place in Custume Barracks, led by The Minister for Defence, to unveil a commemorative stone to honour the support of families of A Company, 35th Infantry Battalion ONUC during the Battle of Jadotville
The Defence Forces participated in the annual State commemoration ceremonies, including the commemoration of the 106th anniversary of the Easter Rising at the GPO, O’Connell Street; the 1916 Leaders Commemoration at Arbour Hill and at the National Day of Commemoration at the National Museum, Collins Barracks, Dublin.
Four (4) Ministerial reviews for overseas contingents took place throughout the country to mark their departure for peacekeeping duties with UNDOF and UNIFIL.
The Defence Forces participated in 11 ceremonies at Áras an Uachtaráin where a total of 33 Ambassadors presented their Credentials of Office to Uachtaráin na hḖireann.
Throughout 2022, a variety of other ceremonial and support duties were performed across the country by members of the Defence Forces in support of State and other ceremonial events.
Joint Task Force (JTF) Operations 2022
OPERATION FORTITUDE 2022 OVERVIEW
Since the launch of Operation FORTITUDE, the DF in accordance with the national cross-government plan, concentrated their efforts on supporting the HSE.
The JTF continued to co-ordinate DF capability throughout 2022 delivering support under four (4) main operational headings: Testing, Tracing, Vaccination, and Logistics. This effort required 7739 DF work days and 1810 vehicle movements as of 03 DEC 2022.
(1) In total, 1406 DF work days have been dedicated to Testing operations in 2022.
(2) Final testing tasking was 04 MAR 22.
(3) This operation includes MFR Deployment, Marshalls, Antigen testing, transport of test kits and samples.
(4) MFR Deployment was used in Limerick, Finglas, Sligo, Blanchardstown, Tallaght, Ashbourne, Sandyford, Citywest, Cork, Kilkenny, Galway, Waterford and Clonmel.
(1) In total, 1078 DF work days have been dedicated to Contact Tracing operations in 2022.
(2) The contact tracing lines in Stephens Barracks Kilkenny, Finner Camp Donegal and the Eir Building in Dublin all ceased in 2022, with the final operation date being the 19 FEB 22
(1) The DF provided a senior military planner to the High Level Vaccine Task Force to support the logistical and supply chain operations which oversaw the successful vaccine programme rollout.
(2) In total, 3015 DF work days have been dedicated to Vaccination operations in 2022.
(3) The DF had personnel involved with 10 Centralised Vaccination Clinics in a logistics support role. Including Mayo, Galway, Limerick, Waterford, Cork, Donegal and Dublin
(4) The DF withdrew from vaccinating on 27 MAY 22.
(1) The DF continued to respond to requests for logistics and other supports throughout 2022, including:
(2) In total, 2240 DF work days have been dedicated to logistical taskings, these tasks include the JTF, tentage, Logs Sp, Transport etc.
(3) Deployment of DF ambulances to support HSE / NAS.
(4) Provision of tentage to COVID-19 Testing Centres and Vaccination sites, both at HSE locations and as required at pop up locations such as meat plants and step-down facilities.
(5) Other supports provided in 2022 include:
Significant liaison and inter-agency co-ordination activities continued throughout 2022, with primacy given to the HSE. The JTF continues to sit on a number of HSE Working Groups including Surge Capacity, NAS Pop-Up Sites, and the High Level Vaccination Task Force. Examples of liaison with other agencies include: Dublin and Cork Airports; Dublin, Cork and Galway Port Authorities; Office of Emergency Planning, Irish Lights; Irish Water; ESB; Vodafone; EIR; and An Post.
OPERATION FAIRWAY 2022 OVERVIEW
On Government direction the DF was to provide personnel and logistics to be on standby in barracks for deployment to control the access of staff and service providers in Dublin Airport from 06 Jul 22 to 15 Aug 22.
(1) This effort required 2118 DF working days.
(2) 3778 DF personnel were committed to this operation in total.
(3) 127 vehicle movements were made in total.
OPERATION FÁILTE 2022 OVERVIEW
The DF conducted ATCA operations WEF 21 Mar 22 in support of the DCEDIY, in order to contribute to the national effort for the reception, accommodation and sustainment of Ukrainian BOTP.
The JTF continued to co-ordinate DF capability throughout 2022 delivering support under three (3) main operational headings: Accommodation, Logistics and IRC Call Centres. This effort required 3289 DF work days and 326 vehicle movements as of 03 DEC 2022.
(1) In total, 1999 DF work days have been dedicated to Accommodation operations in 2022.
a. Two (2) Emergency Accommodation and Reception Centres (EARC) in Gormanston Camp and Kildbride Camp.
b. Provision of tents to Knockalisheen and Citywest
c. Liaison in EARCs
d. The de-construction of Gormanston Camp EARC
(1) In total, 347 DF work days have been dedicated to Logistics operations in 2022.
(2) This includes:
(3) Logs support to Citywest
IRC Call Centres 2022
(1) In total 943 DF work days been dedicated to IRC Call Centre operations in 2022.
(2) This includes:
a. The operation of Irish Red Cross Call Centres
Links to Flickr Albums:
Naval Service: https://www.flickr.com/photos/dfmagazine/albums/72177720304960105