Irish Defence Forces

Irish Defence Forces

Infobox National Military
country = Ireland
name = Óglaigh na hÉireann
Irish Defence Forces

caption = Irish Defence Forces cap badge
branches =
commander-in-chief = President Mary McAleese
minister = Willie O'Dea, TD
minister_title = Minister for Defence
commander = Lieutenant General Dermot Earley
commander_title = Defence Forces Chief of Staff
age =
available = 977,092
available_f = 978,465 (2005 est.) []
fit = 814,768
fit_f = 813,981 (2005 est.)
reaching = N/A
active = 10,500 [ - FAQ] ]
ranked =
reserve = 12,348 [ - RDF Homepage - Establishment] ]
amount = FY 2007 - ranked 59th
USD $1.3 billion (FY00/07)
percent_GDP = 0.7% (FY00/07)

Óglaigh na hÉireann, the Irish Defence Forces encompass the army, navy, air corps and reserve forces of Ireland. Their official title in Irish is "Óglaigh na hÉireann". The President of Ireland is the formal Supreme Commander of the Defence Forces, but in practice they answer to the Irish Government via the Minister for Defence. The Defence Forces consist of the:

*Permanent Defence Forces [The Permanent Defence Forces (of Ireland) are the standing branches of the Irish Defence Forces, and are sometimes referred to as the PDF, the P.D.F. and the Permanent Forces.]
**Naval Service
**Air Corps
*Reserve Defence Forces [The Reserve Defence Forces (of Ireland) are sometimes referred to as the RDF, the R.D.F., the Reserve Forces and the Reserves.]
**Army Reserve (formerly "An Fórsa Cosanta Áitiúil")
**Naval Service Reserve (formerly "An Slua Muirí")


Ireland's favourable geographical location, on the north-west border of the European Union, makes any external threat or future invasion unlikely. The state has a long-standing policy of non-belligerence in armed conflicts that included neutrality in World War II. For these reasons, the Republic's military capacity is relatively modest. However, the state has a long history of involvement in United Nations peace-keeping operations. Functions of the Defence Forces include:

*Preparation for the defence of the state against armed attack.
*Assisting the Garda Síochána (police force), including the protection of the internal security of the state.
*Peace-keeping, crisis management and humanitarian relief operations in support of the United Nations.
*Policing the fisheries, in accordance with the state's obligations under European Union agreements.
*Miscellaneous civil contingency duties requested by the Government such as search and rescue, air ambulance provision, providing secure air transport for ministers, assistance in the event of natural and other disasters, ensuring the maintenance of essential services, and assisting in dealing with oil pollution at sea.


The Defence Forces trace their origins to the Irish Volunteers founded in 1913. This organisation was succeeded in 1919 by the Irish Republican Army (IRA), the guerrilla organisation that fought the Anglo-Irish War against the government of the United Kingdom which is more popularly known as the War of Independence. Shortly after the creation of the Irish Free State in 1922, the IRA was officially succeeded by the modern Defence Forces. The Irish title "Óglaigh na hÉireann", that had previously been used by both the Irish Volunteers and the IRA, was kept by the Defence Forces.


Today approximately 8,500 men and women serve in the Irish Army [ - Army homepage] ] (13,000 in the army reserve). The country is divided into three areas for administrative and operational reasons, and in each area there is an infantry brigade.

In addition to the Brigades Structure, there is also a Defence Forces Training Centre (DFTC), a Logistic Base in the Curragh and a number of special establishments such as the Equitation School, Army Bands, and the Army Ranger Wing. In the case of Corps which support the Infantry, a Corps Director and staff are provided to coordinate the purchase of specialised equipment, the execution of specialised training, etc.

The three brigade group structure envisages distinct operational areas of responsibility for each of the brigades. One has primary responsibility for operational tasks in the border area, the second for operational tasks in the greater Dublin and Leinster area and the third for operational tasks in Munster and part of the Connacht area. Practical operational considerations dictate the requirement to outline operational areas of responsibility. The brigade group structure is based on strengthened combat and combat support elements and streamlined combat service support elements.

Air Corps

At present the Irish Air Corps is unable to fulfill the role of an air force in defending Irish airspace. This has been removed from its remit as has SAR (search and rescue) which is carried out by the Irish Marine Emergency Service of the Department of Communications, Energy and Natural Resources using Sikorsky helicopters. However the Air Corps fulfills many other important roles required by the State. The Air Corps HQ is at Casement (Baldonnel) Aerodrome. The Air Corps is the smallest of the branches of the Defence Forces with approximately 939 personnel.

The primary roles of the Air Corps are now defined as:
#In support of the Army
#In support of the Naval Service
#In aid to the Civil Power

There are two secondary roles:
#Aid to Civil Community
#Aid to Government departments

The Air Corps' two maritime patrol aircraft [The two maritime patrol aircraft are CASA CN-235; see the table at Irish Air Corps#Aircraft for more information.] are equipped with state of the art detection systems and assist the Naval Service in policing Irish territorial waters, the Air Corps has been instrumental in many of the successful interceptions at sea. These aircraft are also used for HALO (High-Altitude, Low-Opening) parachuting by the elite Army Ranger Wing.

Naval Service

The Naval Service maintains a complement of about 1,144 personnel, and is tasked with policing Irish territorial waters as well as the Irish Conservation Box - a large area of sea in which fishing is restricted in order to preserve numbers. The Naval Service is tasked with enforcing this EU protected area and thus serves the EU as well as Ireland. [ (official IDF website) Naval Service Roles] ]

The Naval Service, together with the Air Corps and Coast Guard, have intercepted a number of vessels carrying narcotics to and from Ireland.Fact|date=July 2008 The Naval Service maintains highly trained armed boarding parties that can seize a vessel if necessary. All of the naval vessels are armed with enough fire-power to enforce their policing roles.

Due to Ireland's geographical location the Naval Service does not needFact|date=July 2008 to possess large warships or carriers since they would be of little useFact|date=July 2008 and Ireland's defence policy is realistic to the security threats posed to the country.Fact|date=July 2008

The Navy has eight offshore patrol vessels which are operated in support of the service's main roles. The primary role is defined as "National Security", with secondary roles which include:
# Fishery Protection
# Aid to the Civil Power
# Drug Interdiction
# Maritime Safety
# Diving Operations
# Pollution Control
# Overseas Mission Support

Distinguished from the Irish Coast Guard

The Naval Service should be distinguished from the Irish Coast Guard (IRCG) (Irish: "Garda Cósta na hÉireann"), which is a civilian search-and-rescue and pollution control agency, without law enforcement or military powers. The IRCG is a division of the Department of Transport.

ee also

*Politics of the Republic of Ireland
*History of Ireland
*The Emergency
*Irish Army deafness claims
*Irish Veterans
*List of countries by military expenditures

External links

* [ Official website]


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