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Irish Troops Prepare to leave Kosovo

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  • Irish Troops Prepare to leave Kosovo

    Friday 16th April, 2010

    The 41st Infantry Group will be stood down in a ceremony at Camp Clarke, Pristina tomorrow marking the end of 11 years of Defence Forces involvement in KFOR as a major troop contributing nation.

    The ceremony will be attended by Lieutenant General Markus Bentler, Commander KFOR; Brigadier General Seppo Toivonin, Commander of Battle Group Centre and Brigadier General Michael Finn, Assistant Chief of Staff (Support).

    The draw-down comes as a result of a Government decision in December 2009 to reduce the size of the Irish contingent serving in KFOR. The number of troops will be reduced from the current level of 240 personnel, to approximately 50 in April 2010.

    A further draw-down is planned thereafter leaving a small residual component in the period after October 2010. The withdrawal coincides with a reduction in the number of KFOR Battle Groups from five to two.

    The Defence Forces deployed to Kosovo in 1999 with a transport/logistics company, consisting of a fleet of articulated vehicles, DROPS vehicles, 4x4s and ancillary vehicles. The unit was a theatre-level asset under control of KFOR Headquarters, and their mission was to provide equipment and material lift to military units in KFOR and to humanitarian organisations working with the UN.

    In September 2003, the Defence Forces’ involvement in KFOR changed when the Transport Company (8 Transport Company) was replaced by an Armoured Personnel Carrier-mounted infantry company, designated 27 Infantry Group. The Irish company’s area of responsibility (AOR) covered 190 sq km and it carried out its mission through vigorous and regular patrols in their Mowag APCs, intelligence gathering operations, and specialist tasks.

    Defence Forces personnel have also filled many varied and important appointments at KFOR HQ and Battle Group/Multi-National Task Force HQ. These appointments include Explosive Ordnance Disposal, Military Police, and Liaison and Monitoring Teams.

    In 2007/8 the Defence Forces were appointed as the lead nation in Multi-National Task Force (Centre) and provided the Commander and ancillary staff for that year. The Commander was Brigadier General Gerry Hegarty, whose command extended to some 1,700 troops from six troop contributing countries.

    The Defence Forces faced a number of challenges during their time in the mission area. On St Patrick’s Day in 2004, Irish troops played a significant part in bringing serious rioting under control in the village of Caglavica, 3 km outside Pristina. Their actions earned a number of Irish soldiers letters of commendation from the Commanding General of Multi National Brigade Centre (MNB C), Brigadier General Anders Brannstrom.

    Recognising the significant contribution of Irish troops to the mission, the EU Special Representative (EUSR) to Kosovo, Mr. Peter Feith, made the following remarks at a conference in the Institute of International and European Affairs in Dublin on 13 April 2010:

    "A word of gratitude for the enormous contribution made by the men and women of Ireland for Kosovo's growth and European perspective. On 20 April, 220 Irish soldiers will leave their base in Pristina to return home. They have assumed infantry duties at mission headquarters, in areas as diverse as patrolling and intelligence gathering, and in helping build so many areas of civil society. They will be deeply missed for their outstanding professionalism and I commend them today for their brilliant work and dedication."

    The Irish Defence Forces have provided over 3,500 individual tours of duty with 22 unit deployments during their time in Kosovo. The main body of troops will fly home on April 20th with a Rear Detachment Clearance Team of specialists staying behind to co-ordinate the redeployment of assets back to Ireland.

    The 58 vehicles and 35 ISO sea containers will be moved on a phased basis the 300km by road from Kosovo through Macedonia to the port city of Thessalonica in Greece, from where they will be shipped home. All Irish owned assets are expected to be back in Ireland by the end of May.

    Press Officer: Comdt. Neil Nolan 01 8042687 : 087 2482130

    e-mail: Press Officer web:

    Catch-22 says they have a right to do anything we can't stop them from doing.