Coalition approval for Defence Forces role in EU security

Two contingents to participate in battlegroups

The Irish contingents will be required to be in a constant state of readiness for immediate deployment for a six-month period each year in the event of an EU military intervention in a global emergency. Photograph: Aidan Crawley

The Irish contingents will be required to be in a constant state of readiness for immediate deployment for a six-month period each year in the event of an EU military intervention in a global emergency. Photograph: Aidan Crawley

Tue, Jan 14, 2014, 23:09

The Government has given the go-ahead for the Defence Forces to prepare two contingents for participation in EU battlegroups next year and in 2016.

This will the third time for Ireland to place forces on standby but any decision to deploy the Army remains subject to the triple-lock of Cabinet and Oireachtas approval and a UN mandate.

The basic idea is for the European authorities to have the facility to provide a rapid military response to an international crisis, something that was absent during the Kosovo crisis in the late 1990s. However, battlegroups can also be deployed at the request of the UN or under a specific UN mandate.


Immediate deployment
The Irish contingents will be required to be in a constant state of readiness for immediate deployment for a six-month period each year in the event of an EU military intervention in a

global emergency. An Irish contingent in 2012 involved 175 personnel.

This requirement for “assured deployability” necessitates significant preparatory work in its own right, hence the early move to seek approval from the Coalition. The training and certification of the contingents in question is a matter for the Government.

The Government spokesman said Minister for Defence Alan Shatter sought and received Cabinet support for the move yesterday. The 2015 battlegroup will be Nordic-led and the 2016 battlegroup will be led by Germany.

Such contingents are required to meet commonly defined and agreed military capability standards set between participating member states. A battlegroup comprises 1,500 soldiers from an assortment of members states.

The idea is to have the capacity to quickly deploy a force sustainable for 30 days initially, extendable to 120 days if resupplied as required.

EU battlegroups have had full operational capacity since 2007 to carry out operations known as the Petersberg Tasks, including humanitarian and rescue missions, peacekeeping, and crisis management operations such as peacemaking.

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