Members of Ireland's special forces deployed to German based EU Battlegroup for first time

Members of Ireland's special forces deployed to German based EU Battlegroup for first time
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Some of the country's special forces have been deployed for the first time to an EU Battlegroup based in Germany.

Members of the elite Army Ranger Wing (ARW) have joined other special forces in the formation of what is designed to be a rapid reaction force which the EU could send to bring peace to a troubled spot.

The battlegroup is being led by the Germans, but also contains contingents of troops from Austria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Finland, the Netherlands, Latvia and Sweden. The whole force is comprised of around 1,500 personnel.

It is the fourth time Ireland has had involvement in an EU Battlegroup, but the first time the ARW has taken part.

Irish involvement in the group has been criticised by some TDs who feel it undermines our neutrality.

The ARW will train with the battlegroup for six months after which they will remain on standby with it for 18 months should EU member states decided to deploy it to a trouble spot. Each of the participating member states will have to agree to this first.

"Our ARW are very highly trained anyway but the great thing for them is they will work with their peers from other countries," a Defence Forces spokesman said.

Some ARW members were sent last month to Mali, which is one of the most violent places in the world.

Meanwhile, a far less dangerous mission lies ahead for the Irish Defence Forces team preparing to take part in the Military World Games which are being hosted by China.

A team of 49 personnel comprising of athletes, coaches, officials, medical personnel and support staff are to compete in Wuhan, China from October 15 - 29.

They will be competing in three disciplines - soccer, boxing and shooting, for which they have trained thoroughly and extensively in the preceding months.

The team went to the FAI headquarters in Abbottstown last Wednesday where they received best wishes and advice from the Republic of Ireland manager, Mick McCarthy.

Ireland last participated in the World Military Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 2011. In the history of the games the Defence Force have won six medals: one gold, two silver and three bronze.

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