Irish military specialists in Engineer Specialist Search & Clearance (ESSC), mine countermeasures, de-mining and unexploded ordnance (UXO) disposal have just returned from Cyprus where they were training the Ukrainian Armed Forces in search, counter-mine and counter-munition and UXO disposal techniques.
The first Mobile Training Team of six specialist instructors from the Engineer and Ordnance Corps of the Irish Defence Forces were working alongside Cypriot military engineers delivering this training. These personnel bring practical experience in military search and clearance procedures in addition to the capability to identify and neutralise mines and UXOs. The Government of Cyprus announced in early April that it would offer courses in the detection and clearance of mines and UXOs. This non-lethal military capability enables UAF personnel to safely and efficiently conduct battlefield area clearance in areas of Ukraine that were contaminated during fighting but are now behind the frontline.
The techniques and procedures being taught will provide UAF personnel with the ability to systematically clear the land of mines and UXOs, thereby facilitating the freedom of movement of the Ukrainian military and its people. Eventually, this will allow for the restoration of essential services and the resumption of normality in areas that were affected by the conflict.
This is the first Mobile Training Team (MTT) that has been pledged by the Irish Government. It is expected that up to 30 Irish personnel will provide this much needed training to some of the estimated five thousand UAF soldiers required to demine Ukraine. Other training teams are in the planning stages and pending approval. Currently the Defence Forces also contributes four (4) headquarters staff to the mission based in Brussels and Germany.
The EU Military Assistance Mission in support of Ukraine (EUMAM-UA) was set up on the 17th of October 2022. Its objective is to strengthen the capacity of the Ukrainian Armed Forces to defend Ukraine’s territorial integrity within its internationally recognised borders and to deter and respond to possible future military offensives by Russia and other potential aggressors. 24 EU Member States have offered training modules and personnel. The training is supported by the provision of equipment for military purposes to the Ukrainian Armed Forces. This equipment is provided by Member States and funded by the European Peace Facility. Since then, individual collective and specialist training has taken place in various locations around Europe.
On 21 February, the Government approved the participation of up to 30 Defence Forces’ personnel at any given time in the EU Military Assistance Mission in support of Ukraine (EUMAM Ukraine). Since then, the Defence Forces have engaged extensively with the EU’s Military Planning and Conduct Capability (MPCC) in Brussels, which is the Operations Headquarters and where we have one (1) DF person deployed, with a view to identifying suitable opportunities for training to the Ukrainian Armed Forces (UAF), based on the training needs identified by the UAF. As a result of that engagement, a four-week course in demining and clearance was identified, which the DF concluded was a viable option which they had the appropriate skill sets to offer. As part of the DF's contribution to EUMAM Ukraine, three DF personnel have also been deployed to the multi-national Special Training Command (STC) in Strausberg, Germany. Their duties include coordination, administration and logistical support as required to EUMAM training delivered in Germany. The Defence Forces are continuing their engagement with the MPCC in Brussels and with the team based in the STC in Strausberg, with a view to identifying further suitable training modules for delivery by Irish Defence Forces personnel in the weeks and months ahead.