One of the largest military convoys ever seen in this country travelled along Cork roads yesterday as part of an exercise which will shortly see Irish troops become part of an elite EU rapid reaction force.
At 5.30am yesterday, a total of 55 vehicles travelled between Collins Barracks and Ringaskiddy Port where they will be loaded onto a ship and transported to Sweden.
Today 158 troops from 1 Brigade will fly out and be reunited with their equipment for a major exercise, before being put on standby as members of an EU battle group which could be deployed anywhere in the world on peacekeeping, peace-enforcing or humanitarian duties.
Lieutenant Colonel Paul Carey will lead the Irish contingent on exercises with the Nordic Battlegroup near an air base at Hagshult in central Sweden.
The exercise will last until Saturday, November 15.
“In total, 2,500 troops will take part in the exercise and they will include personnel from Ireland, Sweden, Estonia, Latvia, Finland and Ireland which are members of the EU’s Nordic Battlegroup,” Lt Col Carey said. “The Irish contingent are the battle group’s intelligence assessors — ISTAR (Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance).
“We will be in charge of a Swedish electronic warfare team which is involved in jamming signals and radio surveillance. The Irish will also be working with an Estonian field undercover team,” the senior officer said. The Irish troops started training with the Nordic Battlegroup last January and have led exercises with it in this country since March in Kerry and the Cork camps at Kilworth and Collins Barracks. “English is the language of the battle group so there are no language problems, Lt Col Carey said. The battle group will take part in a Joint Action 14 exercise at the end of which they will be certified as achieving full operational capability.
“The troops will then be put on standby to deploy to troublespots on behalf of the EU from January 1-June 30 next year.”
Lt Col Carey said that they could only be deployed after the EU gets a United Nations mandate.
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