Army Ranger Wing to get higher anti-terrorist profile

Special forces will increase co-operation with Garda with joint training exercises

The Army Rangers Wing will be part of the State’s on-call response to a major terrorist incident. In a video released by the Defence Forces Ireland, the team are put through their paces during training exercises. Video: Defence Forces Ireland

 

Ireland’s military special forces, the Army Ranger Wing, are to be given a more direct and high-profile role in responding to the threat of international terrorism spreading to Ireland.

The soldiers will increase co-operaton with An Garda Síochána’s Emergency Response Unit (ERU) and the Armed Support Unit, who are currently the lead units ready to cope with a major terrorist attack.

Drawing the Army Rangers Wing (ARW) into the State’s on-call response to a major terrorist incident will involve enhanced joint training exercises with the ERU and the ARU, including large scale public exercises.

The development comes in the wake of the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar’s creation of the Government Security Committee, known as Cabinet Committee F, after the room in which it held its first meeting last Thursday.

There, senior Defence Forces and garda officers briefed senior Ministers on the terrorist threat, in which an attack is seen as possible though unlikely at present.

Agreed protocols

Paul Kehoe, Minister of State at the Department of Defence, yesterday spent the day with the Army Ranger Wing, with the Defence Forces chief of staff, Vice-Admiral Mark Mellett and the deputy chief of staff (operations), Maj Gen Kieran Brennan.

Later, the Defence Forces said “the dynamic nature” of the international security threat requires the development of agreed protocols, joint seminars on response to a terrorist attack and exercises on crisis management.”

Mr Kehoe said further exercises will be staged between the Defence Forces and An Garda Síochána and the fire service, ambulance service and other response agencies.

Stronger domestic role

The Army Ranger Wing, which is well-regarded internationally and is recognised particularly for its marksmanship capabilities, has long sought a stronger role for itself domestically.

Surrounded by considerable secrecy, the wing has approximately 100 members and is due to double in size under the Defence White Paper, published in August 2015. They are based in the Defence Forces Training Centre (DFTC) in the Curragh Camp and are on standby 24/7 to be called upon to undertake duties in any part of the country.