Plans drawn up for multi-million euro upgrade of army camp

PLANS have been drawn for a multi-million euro upgrading of an army camp in north Cork which will include remote controlled pop-up targets, FBI-style urban combat training sets and a vehicle cross-country course.

Part of the major revamp of the Lynch Camp at Kilworth is already under way as a prelude to fully equipping the facility to train more troops.

It will make the camp — first opened by the British in May 1896 — the premier training facility in the country for the army’s infantry.

Lynch Camp’s commander Commandant Gerry O’Flynn said by next June additional billets will be completed, allowing the army to sleep 350 troops instead of the current 230.

“An obstacle training course will be completed by the end of 2009 and a live firing tactical range will also be available in the new year,” Comdt O’Flynn said.

He added the army will be using pop-up targets within a designated “safe area” of the range, which can be operated by remote control.

Future developments will include an urban training facility. This will involve constructing real streetscapes where troops can engage in clearing enemy positions within an urban area.

“We’re also hoping to build a vehicle cross-country course. All these additions will allow the army to increase the intensity, variety and realism of training to match increased demands placed on soldiers, particularly overseas,” said Comdt O’Flynn.

“These developments firmly put Kilworth on the military map as a one-stop shop for the training requirements of the defence forces for the immediate future.” More than 6,000 troops went through training at Lynch Camp last year. Because of the army’s need for wide-open spaces to test its soldiers this figure will continue to increase.

“Our troops heading for Kosovo next month must be properly prepared and the camp and training lands around Kilworth are one of the few places in the country where it can be simulated properly,” Comdt O’Flynn said. “To place 400 soldiers in Chad, or 220 in Kosovo takes time, energy, money and preparation. Soldiers do not appear overseas, fully equipped, properly trained and ready for action without this type of training area. The army, in particular, would not be able to prepare our soldiers as completely for the wide variety of high intensity jobs we do, both at home and overseas without Lynch Camp and the land around it,” the commandant said.

The camp has a long history dating back to when British troops were trained there for the Boer War. In 1922 the British officially handed over all training lands and the camp to the then Provisional Irish Government.

The Department of Defence owns 3,385 acres in Kilworth. It has agreed to hand over a section of the land to the Department of Justice to build a super prison which will serve the Munster region. The proposed new prison is about a kilometre from the army camp.

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