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Defence Forces Operations 2018

Friday 28th December - Defence Forces Operations 2018

4pm - 28 December 2018

The Defence Forces were deployeddep a broad range of defence and security operations domestically in 2018, while also deploying over 1690 personnel on UN mandated Peace Support Operations in 14 countries around the world.

Below is a snapshot of some of the highlights from Defence Forces activities this year that gives a flavour of the range of activities undertaken by the Defence Forces in 2018.

*Statistics quoted are provisional to date and are subject to finalisation in the 2018 Annual Report which will be published in early 2019.

Domestic Operations

Defence Forces deployed on a range of Aid to Civil Power & Aid to the Civil Authority operations on a daily basis supporting An Garda Síochána, HSE, Local Authorities and other key agencies of the State. Some examples of these activities are:

  • The Army conducted over *197 Aid to the Civil Power Operations in support of An Garda Síochána involving Explosive Ordnance Disposal (Bomb Squad) call outs, Prisoner Escorts, Explosive Escorts, major Cash Escorts and Search Operations.
  • Members of the Defence Forces continue to provide a permanent armed guard at Ireland’s only maximum-security prison, Portlaoise Prison as well as the Central Bank and Irish Industrial Explosives.
  • Contributed personnel and expertise supporting the Department of Communications. Climate Action and Environment National Cyber Security Centre.
  • Over *1,222 personnel, including the Engineer Specialist Search Teams, deployed to assist in various searches on request from An Garda Siochana.
  • Approximately *2,861 personnel were deployed to assist civil authorities during multiple operations, including combating gorse fires in Dublin, Wicklow, Limerick, Tipperary, Wexford, Down and Armagh. The Defence Forces were also involved in the transportation of medication, staff, volunteers to deliver meals on meals, the evacuation of people from cars and isolated homes and the provision of personnel for snow clearance throughout storm Emma.    
  • The Defence Forces deployed approximately *3,364 personnel in support of State Visits and the Papal Visit in August 2018

As the States principal sea going agency, the Naval Service conducts maritime defence and security operations within a patrol area of 220 million acres of sea (over 12 times the land mass of Ireland), representing 15% of Europe’s fisheries.

  • The Air Corps compliments Naval Service patrols in Ireland's Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) through its Maritime Patrol Squadron which carries out aerial surveillance of territorial waters using two CASA maritime patrol aircraft.  The Air Corps conducted in excess of *160 Maritime Surveillance Patrol flights in 2018.
  • Notable operations in 2018 included a multinational counter-narcotics surveillance operation and a separate Joint Task Force counter-narcotics interdiction operation. 
  • The fleet also conducted approximately *740 boarding operations and detained 7 vessels for alleged infringements of fishing regulations in support of the Sea Fisheries Protection Authority.
  • In October the Naval Service received its ninth ship, to be named the LÉ GEORGE BERNARD SHAW. A formal naming and commissioning ceremony will be held in 2019.
  • The Naval Service Diving Section were deployed for *21 operations in 2018 including *five separate search and recovery operations following requests from An Garda Síochána.
  • The Air Corps completed more than *310 Emergency Aeromedical Support Services missions supporting the HSE in providing a medical service for seriously ill patients in rural communities.
  • The Air Corps provided *44 inter hospital Air Ambulance service support to the HSE to respond to time critical medical emergencies.
  • Air Corps continues to support the Garda Air Support Unit flights in 2018.

International Operations

The Defence Forces have the longest unbroken record of overseas service with the United Nations of any country in the world since first deploying to a United Nations mission in 1958.

  • In 2018, 1,692 Defence Forces personnel served in overseas United Nations mandated Peace Support and security operations in 14 countries and one sea.
  • There are currently over 650 Defence Forces personnel serving in 14 countries.
  • The largest Defence Forces deployment is to South Lebanon with UNIFIL where 462 personnel are deployed, to create a safe and secure environment; Ireland took over a full Battalion in November 2018 which saw an increase in personnel deployed there by over 100. Ireland has 138 personnel deployed as a Disengagement Observer Force in the Golan Heights, UNDOF, where in Oct 2018 they completed a relocation from the Golan Heights to Syria.
  • The LÉ SAMUEL BECKETT and the LÉ JAMES JOYCE deployed to the Mediterranean under EU NAVFOR MED Operation Sophia as part of the EUs maritime mission to disrupt human smuggling and trafficking in the Mediterranean.
  • A DF Counter Improvised Explosive Device (C-IED) Mobile Training Team traveled to OUAGADOUGOU, BURKINO FASO (BF) in Nov 18 to commence training support to the UN Mine Action Service (UNMAS) in their delivery of C-IED Training for the BF Armed Forces.  They will redeploy in 2019.

Training and Education

We train for what we can predict and we educate for what we cannot. As our personnel are our greatest strength, we place a significant focus on training and education to ensure that we develop our personnel and prepare them for complex operating environments, domestically and overseas.

  • 492 Recruits (32 Females) and 89 Cadets (11 Female) were inducted to the Defence Forces and began their military training in 2018. 16 of those cadets where serving members who moved from enlisted ranks and 24 Defence Forces personnel began the Potential Officers course.
  • Approximately 210* Defence Forces personnel completed traditional Honours Degree courses, of which 6 Defence Forces personnel completed Masters courses through Continuous Professional Development programmes.
  • 1110 Skill Courses were conducted by the Defence Forces in 2018 with 14,344 student Days developing and maintaining Defence Force capabilities.
  • 778 Defence forces personnel underwent 37 Career courses, developing their leadership, planning and decision making skills.
  • Approximately 1700 Defence Forces personnel underwent overseas pre-deployment mission readiness training ranging from counter IED to medical first responder training, radio and communications skills to armour vehicle driving.
  • Approximately 1700 Defence Forces personnel underwent overseas pre-deployment mission readiness training ranging from counter IED to medical first responder training, radio and communications skills to armour vehicle driving.Exercise Barracuda – Major counter terrorism exercise ran in conjunction with An Garda Síochána.

Ceremonial Representation 

The Defence Forces participated in more than 50 significant military and State ceremonial Events in 2018.

  • The Bands of the Defence Forces played at 420 events during the course of the year combining performances at state and military ceremonial with a wide range of support to civilian community and sporting events throughout Ireland.
  • The Army Equitation School competed in 110 competitions during the course of the year.
  • The annual State commemoration ceremonies were supported by the Defence Forces, including the commemoration of the 102nd anniversary of the Easter Rising at the GPO, O’Connell Street; the 1916 Leaders Commemoration at Arbour Hill; and at the National Day of Commemoration at the Royal Hospital, Kilmainham. The Defence Forces also participated in the National Famine Commemoration, held this year at University College Cork in May.
  • The Defence Forces also played a significant role in the inauguration ceremony of H.E. President Michael D. Higgins as Uachtarán na hḖireann, on November 11th.
  • State ceremonial honours were afforded on the occasion of the State Visit to Ireland of the President of the Italian Republic in February. In addition, honours were also afforded to His Holiness Pope Francis on his visit to Ireland  in August. Honours were also afforded to Uachtarán na hḖireann, H.E. President Michael D. Higgins, on the occasion of his departure for a State visit to Latvia and Lithuania in June.
  • The Defence Forces participated in a series of monthly ceremonies at Áras an Uachtaraín where a total of 38 Ambassadors presented their Credentials of Office to Uachtarán na hḖireann.
  • A special State ceremony was held at Dublin Castle in June of this year to commemorate the 60th anniversary of Ireland’s first contribution to United Nations Peacekeeping operations, and the continuous participation of members of the Defence Forces on operations since then. As part of these commemorations, members of the Defence Forces took part in a wreath laying ceremony at United Nations Headquarters in New York in July, attended by An Taoiseach.
  • A series of summer ceremonies at the National Memorial, Merrion Square, were held to remember those members of the Defence Forces who have given their lives in the service of the State. Defence Forces Veterans Day was held at the National Museum of Ireland, Collins Barracks, Dublin, in May. Major General Michael Beary was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal at a ceremony in Cathal Brugha Barracks, Dublin, in recognition of his distinguished contribution to peacekeeping efforts during his career.
  • The Defence Forces also provided Military Honours at the State receptions hosted by An Taoiseach to mark the visits to Ireland by the President of the European Commission and the Chancellor of Austria.
  • State commemorations, in which the Defence Forces played a key role, were held to mark the centenary of significant events from World War 1. The centenary of the sinking of the RMS Leinster off the coast of Dún Laoghaire was marked by a State commemoration held in Dún Laoghaire in October. The centenary of the end of World War 1 was also marked with a State ceremony at Glasnevin Cemetery on November 11th.

Throughout 2018, a variety of other ceremonial and support duties were performed across the country by members of the Defence Forces in support of State and other ceremonial events.

Innovation and Collaboration

The Defence Forces strives to collaborate with partner agencies, nationally and internationally, to find innovative solutions to complex modern security challenges. In 2018 the Defence Organisation finalised an Intellectual Property Policy for the Defence Organisation which assists in creating an optimum environment to encourage innovation.


The Ordnance Corps is a consortium member in a successful H2020 project with partners from the National University of Ireland, Galway as well as Italy, Germany, Spain and Portugal where the project secured over 4.7m in research funding. This project is based on dealing with the aftermath of a Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and Explosive (CBRNe) event and is producing cutting-edge technology for use in the field of Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD).

The Ordnance Corps of the Defence Forces is providing front-line end user expertise and oversight to the project.


A consortium including the Defence Forces, Trinity College, the PSNI and Finnish Army.  GAP proposes that Serious Games offer a 21st century environment within which Conflict Prevention and Peace Building (CPPB) personnel can experience scenarios through role-playing in their own organisation and by role-playing people from other organisations.

The GAP game was delivered at the end of July and tested in September and October 2018. The project has now progressed on to the final phase.  The game, which has been developed with Defence Forces assistance, will be presented at a GAP End-of-Project Conference, which will take place in Trinity College Dublin in January 2019, with the theme ' GAP: The Soft Skills Summit: How to Train for Soft Skills Through Digital Games – A Case Study for Training Peacekeepers'. GAP has been approved by European Security and Defence College (ESDC) to be piloted as a module in early 2019 with a view to being offered for one year to ESDC members.


The project’s objective is to develop a multi-domain command and control system to be used for maritime surveillance. The Naval Service are consortium members with the National Maritime College of Ireland (NMCI), BAE Systems, NATO and the Portuguese Navy. The Naval Service will attend planning meetings and workshops, providing practical end-user maritime and naval expertise, in order to develop this project further during the course of 2019.

Press Release Date: 28th December 2018

For Further Information contact:

Press Officer: Commandant James O'Hara

Tel: 045 49 2502 , 045 49 2503

Mobile : 087 2482130

E-mail: Press Officer