There are currently 416 Military Personnel serving in fourteen different countries across the globe. Our biggest troop missions are the 210 personnel serving with the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) and the 119 personnel with the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force on the Golan Heights in Syria. Both these missions have been hit with heavy snowfall recently which has raised the Christmas spirit however both areas remain particularly tense and it is hoped there will be an operational pause to allow the men and women deployed there to enjoy Christmas Dinner. Irish Troops will also sit down to Christmas Dinner in countries as far flung as Mali, Afghanistan, Bosnia, Ivory Coast and South Sudan amongst others.
Security Escorts and Duties
Provisional figures for 2013 indicate that the Army completed over 1800 cash in transit escorts to the start of December 2013, it is estimated that almost every bank note in circulation in the State has been guarded by the Defence Forces at some stage. In addition to the routine guarding of cash in transit, the Army has also completed 142 special category prisoner security escorts up to the start of this month.
Explosive Ordnance Disposal
The Defence Forces maintain a number of Army Bomb Disposal teams across the State on a 24/7, 365 days a year basis. In close cooperation with our colleagues in the Garda Siochana, these teams are mobile to the scene of incidents within a matter of minutes. This yearâ€™s provisional figures indicate that the Teams have responded to over 249 call outs so far this year up from 209 in 2012. This year's call outs included 80 viable improvised explosive devices (including 9 post blast analyses) , this is down from 96 in 2012. The teams also dealt with 86 call outs for hazardous material and pyrotechnics which are generally unstable chemicals in laboratories, schools and colleges and 36 conventional munition destruction, usually historical or legacy munitions found by people renovating houses, gardens etc.
Defence Forces Ceremonial Duties
2013 saw the Defence Forces involved in more than 35 significant Military and State Ceremonial Events. Ceremonial duties were conducted at the Easter Sunday Commemoration Parade at the GPO, the National Famine Commemoration in Kilrush, the Arbour Hill 1916 Leaders Commemoration and at the National Day of Commemoration in the Royal Hospital , Kilmainham. In addition to these events special weekly ceremonies were conducted over the Summer Months at the National Memorial, Merrion Square to remember those members of the Defence Forces who gave their lives in the service of the State.
During 2013, the 50th Anniversary of President John. F. Kennedy's visit to Ireland and his untimely death were marked at various ceremonies in Ireland and America. Defence Force personnel played a key role in these ceremonies.
On 24th November 2013 a State Ceremony was conducted to mark the centenary of the foundation of the Irish Volunteers, Óglaigh na hÉireann. Army, Air Corps and Naval personnel participated in this event in the Garden of Remembrance which had a special resonance for the modern day Defence Forces.
Irish and British Military Ceremonial Elements were also involved in a commemorative event involving An Taoiseach and the British Prime Minister in Flanders on 19th December 2013 where Irish and British war deaths in World War One were remembered.