Ireland to contribute up to 120 troops to new EU crisis response force

EU Rapid Deployment Capacity will see Irish troops on standby for 12 month periods

Ireland is to contribute up to 120 troops to the EU’s new crisis response force when it comes into being in 2025.

The development of an EU Rapid Deployment Capacity (RDC) is at the core of the Strategic Compass initiative which is aimed at strengthening European security and increasing EU peacekeeping activity. The RDC will replace the EU Battlegroup system which was established in 2007 but never deployed.

The new system will see 5,000 troops from EU member states being available for deployment at short notice at all times. The main task of the RDC will be to quickly stabilise a situation, such as a humanitarian disaster or ethnic cleansing, in advance of any longer term deployment

Several rapid reaction forces are to be established across the EU based on geography with one being on standby at all times. Each force will remain on standby for a year before being replaced with another force. Under the old system, forces of 1,500 remained on standby for six months.


Details of the RDC were revealed in an interview with Defence Forces Brigadier General Gerald Buckley, who serves as the Irish representative to the EU Military Committee.

He said the granular details still have to be worked out but that Ireland is expected to commit a company of troops, numbering between 100 and 120, to the initiative.

They will be attached to the German-led RDC, meaning they will be part of the first RDC force to be activated.

Gen Buckley stressed Irish involvement will not be an “academic exercise”. He said subject to final approval Ireland is “preparing to commit to that battle group, and that the battle group will be the core of the EU RDC so this will be real live active participation. It’s not a paper exercise for us.”

Irish troops will undergo a certification process before being formally accepted into the German led group. “This is all work in progress but that is the anticipation,” he said.

Gen Buckley said he believes Irish troops will form up in January 2024 for six months of on-island training before going abroad for multinational certification for another six months.

They will then remain on standby in Ireland for another year. “It is quite a contribution for the Defence Forces to make,” the general said.

RDC training and deployment will be highly beneficial for Defence Forces capabilities, he said. “We will also bring a lot to the table. We have a very experienced Defence Forces which has a much more deployable experience then many, many other armed forces.”

The development of the RDC will be one of the main topics of discussion when the chiefs of staff from all EU militaries meet next week. It is understood changing the previous name of battle groups to something less militaristic was one of the conditions set by Irish officials during negotiations.

Separately, preparations for a EU military training mission for Ukraine are ongoing. The mission is likely to be called EU Assistance Mission Ukraine (EUAMU) and will be headquartered in Poland, with a parallel or subordinate HQ in Germany.

It will be led by French Admiral Vice Admiral Hervé Bléjean and operate under the EU Military Planning and Conduct Capability (MPCC).

The provision of Irish troops to the mission is still to be decided but several Defence Forces members are expected to serve in command and control roles as well as on the ground training.

“We in the Defence Forces are looking to see how we can support this obviously subject to policy and political decisions,” Gen Buckley said.

The mission will provide advice and mentorship to Ukrainian forces as well as military training, he said.

Conor Gallagher

Conor Gallagher

Conor Gallagher is Crime and Security Correspondent of The Irish Times