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2021 OVERVIEW as at 06 DEC 2021


  • The Irish Defence Forces (DF) is an integral element of the Irish State’s architecture to deal with major emergencies. Through an existing framework, the DF provides support, when requested, to Irelands’ Primary Response Agencies (PRAs) such as the Health Service Executive (HSE), An Garda Síochana (AGS) and the Local Authorities. This support is broadly classified as either Aid to the Civil Power (ATCP), which is to AGS; or Aid to Civil Authority (ATCA), to the HSE or Local Authorities.
  • In response to the emerging COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020 the DF established a COVID-19 Joint Operational Planning Group (JOPG) on 26 Feb 2020 and commenced the provision of support to the HSE on 13 Mar 2020.


  • On 20 Mar 2020, a Joint Task Force (JTF) was established and tasked to co-ordinate DF support to the whole of Government effort.
  • The JTF headquarters is organised along traditional military lines, with operations and project managers, logistic planners and administrative staff. It draws its personnel from all three (3) services, both Permanent and Reserve. The JTF has a core team of academic experts available to it in fields such as: medicine, emergency management, engineering, and Information Technology and data analytics - personnel who can offer advice and inform opinion.


Since the launch of Operation FORTITUDE, the DF in accordance with the national cross-government plan, concentrated their efforts on supporting the HSE.

The JTF continued to co-ordinate DF capability throughout 2021 delivering support under five (5) main operational headings: Testing, Tracing, Vaccination, Logistics and the Mandatory Quarantine Scheme. This effort required 59855 DF work days, 13502 vehicle movements and 47 Air Corps (AC) flights in 2021.

Testing 2021

  • In total, 19681 DF work days have been dedicated to Testing operations in 2021.
  • Currently, 40 DF Swab Testing personnel are deployed daily supporting 14 national test centres operating seven (7) days per week.
  • This operation increases national test capacity by approximately 3000 tests per day.
  • In earlier operations during 2021, up to 56 Military First Responders were deployed as swab testers at national test centres and as part of the National Ambulance Service (NAS) Pop Up teams. Pop Up tasks included serial testing at various meat factories and vulnerable person facilities.
  • Logistics support was provided at HSE Test Centres, Galway Airport, Kilkenny, Ballymullen Bks in Tralee, Waterford, Wexford and Clonmel. Up to 80 Marshalls per day were provided to these test centres. Marshalling operations were completed on 03 Sep 21.
  • As a headline statistic, the JTF could stand over a DF swab testing figure of over 300,000 to date in support of the HSE.
  • The DF was a joint category winner in the 2021 HSE Excellence Awards for Operational Services Integration in a COVID environment, along with NAS and COVID Community Testing. This recognition provides a clear demonstration of interoperability with our HSE and NAS colleagues and the commitment to a whole of government support in combatting COVID-19.

Tracing 2021

  • In total, 3227 DF work days have been dedicated to Contact Tracing operations in 2021.
  • Currently the DF maintains 30 contact tracing lines, 10 in each location in Stephens Barracks Kilkenny (1 Bde), Finner Camp Donegal (2 Bde) and the Eir Building in Dublin (DFTC and AC). This operation was recommenced on the 01 November and is conducted six (6) days per week.
  • In earlier operations in 2021, the DF utilised the DF Bands in contact tracing operations. At its height, 40 lines were maintained daily.
  • Following the HSE Ransomware attack during 2021, the DF provided facilities for HSE contact tracing at McKee Bks, Dublin and in the DFTC at the Curragh.

Vaccination 2021

  • The DF provided a senior military planner to the High Level Vaccine Task Force to support the logistical and supply chain operations which oversaw the successful vaccine programme rollout.
  • In total, 15664 DF work days have been dedicated to Vaccination operations in 2021.
  • Currently the DF deploys up to 28 personnel daily to 10 Centralised Vaccination Clinics in a logistics support role.
  • In earlier operations in 2021, the DF provided up to 77 personnel daily in support of vaccination centres. This included both logistics personnel and qualified vaccinators (Dr, AP, Paramedics and EMTs).
  • Throughout 2021, the DF provided both air and ground vaccine transport, and secure storage facilities for vaccination related medical equipment.

Quarantine 2021

  • In total, 11942 DF work days were dedicated to Quarantine operations in 2021.
  • This operation required up to 75 DF personnel deployed seven (7) days per week.
  • The Irish Government enacted legislation that established a Mandatory Quarantine System (MQS) whereby all travelers arriving into Ireland from specifically designated countries were required to undergo 14 days of quarantine in a nominated hotel. The DF provided support to the Dept. of Health (DOH) in this ATCA operation. The DF’s role in the MQS was to provide assurance and validation to the process prescribed by the DOH.
  • This task was supported by specific, nationally designated roles. A DF senior officer, designated as a State Liaison Officer (SLO), liaised at strategic/operational levels across Government entities. The SLO was supported in this task by a DF Deputy State Liaison Officer (D/SLO) and a number of DF Assistant State Liaison Officers (A/SLOs) across designated SPODs and APODs. Furthermore, a DF A/SLO(s) was located at each of the designated Mandatory Quarantine Facilities (MQF) as a day to day process supervisor.
  • Following government direction the DF ceased Quarantine operations on 25 Sep 21.

Logistics 2021

  • The DF continued to respond to requests for logistics and other supports throughout 2021, including:
  • Deployment to nine (9) Residential Care Home Facilities (RCHF) to provide support at the request of the HSE. In total, 2706 DF work days were dedicated to RCHF operations in 2021. All supports provided by the DF to RCHF were non-clinical tasks as agreed with the HSE.
  • Provision of rotary and fixed wing aircraft for HSE support tasks as required including 24 flights to Germany with swabs specimens for testing, and 22 vaccine delivery flights to the Islands.
  • Deployment of DF ambulances to support HSE / NAS with 1076 calls completed to date.  
  • Transportation of vulnerable civilians to COVID-19 test centres. During 2021 a total of 2838 such patients have undergone return journeys for testing, and 3112 DF work days were dedicated to Patient Transfer operations.
  • Provision of tentage to COVID-19 Testing Centres and Vaccination sites, both at HSE locations and as required at pop up locations such as meat plants and step-down facilities. To date there have been in excess of 200 deployments of DF tentage with 42 tents currently deployed. In total, 513 DF work days were dedicated to Tentage operations in 2021.
  • Provision of refrigeration equipment storage at Gormanston Camp.
  • Provision of HSE vehicle storage at McKee Barracks, Dublin.

Other supports provided in 2021 include:

  • Inter-Agency Co-Ordination.

Significant liaison and inter-agency co-ordination activities continued throughout 2021, with primacy given to the HSE. The JTF continues to sit on a number of HSE Working Groups including Surge Capacity, NAS Pop-Up Sites, and the High Level Vaccination Task Force. Examples of liaison with other agencies include: Dublin and Cork Airports; Dublin, Cork and Galway Port Authorities; Office of Emergency Planning, Irish Lights; Irish Water; ESB; Vodafone; EIR; and An Post.

  • HSE Ransomware Attack.

The DF provided various supports to the HSE following the cyber-attack in 2021. Members of the Communication and Information Services Corps (CIS) provided technical support within means and capabilities to assist in the recovery operation. Non-technical support was also provided by way of coordination, developing situational awareness, and information management across various work streams at the HSE Situation Centre in Citywest.

Annex A



Personnel and Vehicles – Total.

113,763 Work days / 23,057 Vehicles.

Main Effort HSE - Testing, Tracing, Transport, Tentage, Vaccination & Quarantine.

Personnel and Vehicles - RDF (Incl. in above).

1,990 Work days / 308 Vehicles.

JTF, Patient Transfer, Vaccinators, OCIO, Quarantine ASLO & IT, Swabbers, Marshalls.

Flights – Total.

57 Flights (1,120 Committed).

Tests to Munich (34), Vaccination Movement on Island (22), Patient Transfer (1).

Ships – Total.

7,957 Work days / 197 Ship movements.

4,355 Swab Tests.

Average Daily Deployment – Total.

180 Work days / 36 Vehicles.

Since 13 MAR 20.

Average Daily Deployment  - DEC 21.

102 Work days / 24 Vehicles.

Highest Daily Deployed 73 on 02 NOV 21.


Issued 346 / Completed 334 / Active 12.




Current 40 Pers daily. Total 11,398 Work days / 3,339 Vehicles / 34 Flights.

HSE Static Sites. Surge capacity of 40 pers.

Contact Tracing.

Current 30 Pers daily. Total 8,445 Work days / 168 Vehicles.

2,888 Work days on Wave 4 since 27 JUL 21.  (5,557 incurred in previous waves).


Current 42 deployed. 1,885 Work days / 513 Vehicles.

Total Deployments 201. Currently: 1 Bde (11), 2 Bde (24), DFTC (7).


Current 27 deployed. 15,664 Work days / 4,238 Vehicles / 22 Flights.

Commenced 01 DEC 21. Planned 29 Pers daily. Mon to Sun.


Testing - AVIVA - 14 MAY 20 to 28 FEB 21.

9,401 Work days / 2,344 Vehicles / 61,761 Tests.

Capacity for over 600 Tests per day (Up to 40 Pers Involved Daily).

Testing - Residential Care Facilities - APR & MAY 20.

475 Work days / 20,501 Tests.

Assisting NAS.

Testing - Naval Service - Test Centre operation.

7,957 Work days / 197 Ship movements / 4,355 Swab Tests.

Testing Sites in Dublin, Cork & Galway.

Testing - Patient Transfers.

7192 Work days / 3,326 Vehicles / 5,802 Patients / 1 Flight.

Dublin, Cork, Kerry, Wicklow & Kildare. Supporting National Test Programme.

Residential Care Facilities -  (JAN & FEB 21).

3,295 Work days / 297 Vehicles / 9 Facilities.

Non Clinical Duties and staff assistance.  Preparation, training & deployment.

Ambulance - National Ambulance Service support.

630 Work days / 1,076 calls responded to.

Dublin, Cork & Kildare.

PPE Transport and Distribution.

3,118 Work days / 745 Vehicles / 4,000 Tonnes of PPE.

259 Flights offloaded. Road transport Dublin Airport to Ballycoolin & Greenogue.

Quarantine - Mandatory  Scheme.

11,944 Work days / 3,042 Vehicles.

8 Hotels & 9 POD's.

Vaccination - National Programme.

14,517 Work days / 4,177 Vehicles / 21 Flights.

Vaccinators, Vaccine Delivery, MVC Marshalls, Pharmacy Management.