The Army run parachute training courses for selected
personnel from all units of the Irish Army, Army Air
Corp and Naval Service. Because Ireland is a small neutral country
there has never been a need for an airborne regiment, therefore
there is no such regiment or battalion in the Irish Defence Forces.
However the army has recognised the advantage of parachute training
for it’s members and invites suitably qualified personnel to
submit their names for acceptance. After an initial selection period
the volunteers are sent through the usual physical rigours under the
watchful eye of the Army Ranger Wing. After completing 5 basic
static line jumps the newly qualified paratrooper earns his wings.
The metal Silver wings are complimented by a cloth version for
Rangers in training (circa 1970's)
After the wings have been formerly
presented the ‘paratrooper’ returns to his parent unit and
resumes ‘normal’ duties. Part of the Irish contingent with
KFOR recently earned their wings when with 15 other contributing
nations to KFOR they performed a multi-national solidarity jump at
Bondsteel, Kosova. The jump was organised to celebrate the
anniversary of the formation of the 82nd Airborne Division US –
August 16th 1949.
Ireland and the UN
The Irish Army involvement with the United
Nations goes back to UN Observer Group in Lebanon (UNOGIL) in 1958
and they have had troops and observers in almost every hotspot in
the world. They have been major contributors for the UN in the
Congo, Cyprus and Lebanon, they also have a Non UN presence in
East Timor, Kosova, Bosnia, Croatia & Yugoslavia.
Army Ranger Wing - East Timor 1999
Ranger takes cover behind rock pile. Note the LAW
strapped to back.
Eire Southern Irish Defence Forces Arm
4th WESTERN BRIGADE MILITARY
In the late 1960s and early 1970s a
small number of Defence Forces personnel attended American
Army Ranger Courses at Fort Benning, Georgia in the United
States. On their return, these personnel were responsible for
organising similar type courses which were aimed at bringing
standards of training throughout the Defence Forces into line
with accepted international standards. Students on these
courses were selected from among all ranks and all Units of
the Army, the Air Corps and the Naval Service. These courses
proved to be very beneficial in improving standards of
physical endurance, marksmanship, individual military
skills and small unit tactics.
Army Ranger Wing - East Timor 1999
Rangers come ashore from landing craft.
Army Ranger Wing
The evolution of the Army Ranger Wing
resulted from an increase in international terrorism in the late
1970s and 1980s. The kidnapping of politicians and businessmen as
well as the hijacking of air and sea going craft was of
considerable concern to democratic governments. European and other
countries realised that conventional police and military tactics
were not suited to dealing with this escalating threat.
The Army of the Republic of Ireland
maintains a company of Rangers whose training is similar to that
of the airborne rangers of the U.S. Army. The Unit is officially
designated 'Sciath Fianch an Airm' , which is translated as 'The
Army Ranger Wing'. There is no direct English translation of the
term 'Fianch' so the designation Ranger is the accepted version. 'Fianch'
links the traditions of the 'Na Fianna' (Legendary Irish Warriors)
with the present day Irish Defence Forces (laigh na hreann).
Beginning in the late 1960s, the personnel from the Irish
Defense Forces were sent to take part in the US Army's Ranger
School. Graduates of this program returned to Ireland and
established a new school, very similar in mission and organization
to that of the US Army. Students on these
courses were selected from among all ranks and all Units of the
Army, the Air Corps and the Naval Service. These courses proved to
be very beneficial in improving standards of physical endurance,
marksmanship, individual military skills and small unit tactics. By
1980, it was decided that the skill level of the members had
evolved to a degree which warranted the establishment of an
official Army Ranger Wing (ARW). The missions of this unit are
multiple, including long range patrolling, training of other
units, VIP security, anti-hijacking, hostage rescue, and
counterterrorism. These duties, specifically as they related to
CT, are considered supplemental to Ireland's primary response
unit, the Garda Siochana.
Unit strength is approximately 100 men who are organized into
two assault platoons, a support platoon with medical, EOD,
aviation, etc. Each of the assault platoons has five assault teams
of 3-4 men each. These men are all volunteers, selected from other
units already serving with the Defense Forces. Training includes
at least three days and one night on the firing range. Advanced
tactics are taught in parachuting, combat diving, small boat
handling, and mountaineering. Interestingly, ARW members are
returned to their original units after a set period of time, thus
ensuring their expertise will be shared throughout the Defense
Forces. The Rangers have received additional training from the
Royal Dutch Marines and the U.S. Army's Delta Force. Operational
control of the ARW is the responsibility of the Chief of Staff's
Branch at Army Headquarters. The unit is currently located at
Curragh Camp, County Kildare.
|The Army Ranger Wing is an
integral Unit of the Defence Forces. Its Roles are divided
into Conventional Warfare roles and Specialist 'Aid to the
Civil Power' roles. It also has an established role in the
advancement of standards within the Defence Forces.
|Offensive Operations behind enemy lines :
- Securing of vital objectives.
- Long Range Patrolling - Raids -
Ambushes - Sabotage.
- Capture of key personnel.
- Diversionary Operations.
- Intelligence Gathering
- VIP Protection.
- Counter insurgency.
- Training in and conduct of specialist
- Delay Operations
Specialist Aid to the
Advancement of Defence
|The ARW contributes to the
improvement of standards in military and related skills
throughout the Defence Forces by :
- Testing and evaluation of certain
military equipment for the Defence Forces.
- Organising and participating in
Defence Forces training exercises.
- Conducting Specialist Courses.
- Returning highly skilled ARW personnel to all Corps
of the Defence Forces on completion of service in the
The Defence Forces was in a
position to respond with a competent and highly trained Unit. The
increased skills and endurance training of 'Ranger'-trained
personnel provided the perfect basis for the new specialist unit.
The Army Ranger Wing (ARW) was formally established. As part of
the ongoing training the Unit conducts interchanges with Special
Forces and Intervention Groups among which are The Royal Dutch
Marines, the French GIGN, the Italian CIS, the German GSG9 and the
Swedish SSG. Exchanges lead to international co-operation through
mutual contact and evaluation of each other’s specialised
skills. ARW individuals selected are of varying service within the
Unit and specialise in areas such as diving, sniping, parachuting,
medical or explosives.
Army Ranger Wing Arrive in Chad
At 10.45 this morning 54 members of the Army Ranger Wing of the
Defence Forces arrived in the Chad capital N'Djamena constituting
the first main grouping of Irish troops deploying to the EUfor
mission in the region. A logistical operation to transport
vehicles and equipment by air into the mission area via Antinov
heavy-lift aircraft will begin on Saturday and continue over the
subsequent three to four days.
On the arrival of their kit and equipment the Rangers will
undertake a 900km journey east across Chad's arid interior to
their operational base in Abeche. They will be working in tandem
with other EUfor special forces and will focus immediately on
identifying suitable base camp locations for the main body of
Irish forces who are due to arrive over the next weeks and months.
The Rangers will also assess the various threats that exist on the
ground and their presence will begin the process of creating a
safe and secure environment for the 400,000 refugees and
internally displaced persons along the Darfur border who remain
the absolute focus of this mission.
The Irish Defence Forces Army Ranger
The Irish Defence
Forces Army Ranger Wing
The Naval Service is
responsible for patrolling an area of 132,000 sq. mls of sea
which is the equivalent of four times the size of the island
of Ireland. The sea conditions on the Atlantic coast are
often extremely hazardous offering an operational challenge
to the ARW which is trained to complement the activities of
the Naval Service.
All ARW Combat Divers undergo a Boat Handling Course. On
this course the student is introduced to the ARWs inflatable
and semi-rigid craft. The Course subjects include Boat
Maintenance, Global Positioning System Navigation, High
Speed Handling, Interception and Boarding of all types of
vessels in all weather conditions. The craft are also used
as troop carriers in various roles for Maritime Intervention
and Seaborne Operations.
The Selection Course is held annually by the ARW for
potential new Unit members. It is open to serving members of
the Defence Forces only. Candidates must be medically fit,
have a good conduct rating, may be of any rank and must
undergo a rigorous physical fitness test.
The Selection course is of four (4) weeks duration. The
student must cope with physical and psychological pressures
and is constantly assessed by instructor staff. The course
covers Physical Training, Weapons Handling, Confidence
Training, Mountain Navigation, Survival Skills and all
aspects of special forces conventional tactics. Standards
required are set at the highest level. Successful students
continue with the induction process by completing an ARW
Basic Skills Course, which is in effect a probationary
Throughout the Ranger's career he/she
will undergo further specialist training on a continuous
ongoing basis ensuring peak of performance at all times. The
Ranger will be trained to the highest level of skills such as
helicopter rappelling, fast roping, boat handling, sniping,
underwater combat diving, explosives intervention, close
protection, parachuting and advanced navigation. These skills
are unique to the Army Ranger Wing and affords the Unit much
valued flexibility in contingency planning for operational
The Unit is supported by Defence Forces assets such as Air
Corps aircraft, Naval Service Patrol Vessels, Army transport
and specialised all weather military kit and high tech
equipment. The availability of these assets enables the ARW to
train for scenarios based on airborne as well as underwater
and surface maritime operations. Training is carried out on
gas and oil rigs off Ireland's Atlantic coast, in remote rural
areas and in the urban environment.
|One of the ARW primary
specialist military skills is Sniping. Up to half of ARW
members are fully qualified snipers. This affords the Unit a
high degree of flexibility within its various roles. All
potential Snipers undergo a rigorous seven-week Basic Sniper
Course. On this course the student is taught the Sniper
related military skills e.g. Shooting, Camouflage and
Concealment, Stalking and Navigation. Having successfully
completed this course the student becomes a fully qualified
|Heckler and Koch MP5A3
||0.66m ( 2ft 2in)
with the butt stock extended or 0.49m (1ft 4in) with
|Rate of Fire
||800 Rounds per
||15 / 30 Round Box
400m (1312ft) per Second
ARW is equipped with state of the art SINGCARS and RACAL
communications equipment which provides the unit with
secure communications between all it's elements and
Defence Forces Headquarters.
|Intensive exercises are
conducted for selected personnel, sometimes in conjunction
with Foreign Special Forces. The Unit trains its Snipers in
Anti-Terrorist sniper military skills including Advanced
Shooting Techniques, Urban Hides, Co-ordinated Shoot
Procedures and Computer Data Transmission.
ARW Snipers are trained to operate in many environments and so
the Wing is equipped with an array of specialist weapons to
enhance effectiveness. Some of the weapons in use are :
||7.62mm ( .308)
||1.124m to 1.194m (
3ft 5in to 3ft 11ins)
||10 Round Box
||914m (2998ft) per
ARW conducts parachute training within the Defence Forces
and all Unit members are proficient in this area. All
trainees must successfully complete five (5) static line
jumps from 2,000 feet using T10 round canopies to earn
their wings. Selected unit members then progress to
free-fall. Rangers who reach a high standard are sent
abroad for HALO (High altitude low opening) and HAHO (High
altitude high opening) training.
Most ARW parachutists are encouraged
to compete in sports parachuting such as accuracy and
relative work competitions. ARW members also represent the
Irish Defence Forces in the annual World Military
Parachuting Championships under CISM (Conseil
International du Sport Militaire) .
||Semi Automatic Pistol
||0.75kg ( 1.65lbs) empty
||15 / 20 Round Box Magazine
||350m ( 1148ft) per Second
From the beginning of the induction
process each Rangers navigation ability is tested to its
maximum. Effective day/night solo all weather navigation, over
the roughest of terrain and at varying levels of elevation, is
paramount to successful ARW missions. An advanced level of
perfected skill is constantly demanded. Participation in
military orienteering sporting competitions is encouraged and
assists in honing the skill required for reaching and
returning from mission imperative objectives. Equipment
proficiency ranges from application of the basic map and
compass to the more sophisticated Global Positioning System
with computerised interface.
within the Unit are appointed and responsible to oversee the
upkeep and maintenance of the best available medical
equipment. It is a source of pride that each Army Ranger has
the ability to care for casualties until they are put into the
care of the emergency medical services.
Rangers specialise in Combat Diving and must undergo a two
week preliminary Diving Course under the supervision of
the ARW diving section. This course involves an
introduction to diving and diving equipment. Students gain
water confidence and dive in varying conditions and
visibility in preparation for the next phase of the course
which is conducted by the Naval Service Diving Section at
the Naval Base.
(.308) Accuracy International.
and Koch SG1 5.56 mm.
|The locating, observing and reporting on
targets are essential skills of the ARW sniper. These three
functions are complemented by the invaluable experience gained
on front-line duty with the Irish Battalion serving with the
UN in South Lebanon. The ARW uses state of the art Digital
Technology and Burst Transmission Communications to transmit
images and data
|Every member of the Unit undergoes an Advanced
First Aid Course, run by the Army Medical Corps. The
syllabus includes Basic Trauma life-support and covers
Intravenous Infusion and Oxygen Therapy. On operations
and during training exercises the Units full range of
medical equipment will be close at hand, ready to care
for any casualties be they ARW personnel or others.
As part of the ongoing training the
Unit conducts interchanges with Special Forces and
Intervention Groups among which are The Royal Dutch Marines,
the French GIGN, the Italian CIS, the German GSG9 and the
Swedish SSG. Exchanges lead to international co-operation
through mutual contact and evaluation of each others
specialised skills. ARW individuals selected are of varying
service within the Unit and specialise in areas such as
diving, sniping, parachuting, medical or explosives.
Members of the ARW also take part in
the Irish Defence Forces contribution to overseas Peacekeeping
Missions around the world. Over the years these missions have
included service in Lebanon, Bosnia, Cyprus, Iraq, Somalia and
UNOSOM II - 1993