Defence Forces highlights from 2010
23rd December 2010, 1.45pm.

2010 has been a busy year for the Irish Defence Forces. The following is a snapshot of the activities carried out by the organisation.


Overseas

On the overseas front, the Defence Forces undertook one of our largest logistical operations ever when we withdrew our troops and equipment from Chad between May and July. Some 3,000 tonnes of equipment were moved 900km across the desert on mostly unpaved track; 650km by rail and 9,600km by sea to Dublin. 2010 also saw the drawdown of most Defence Forces troops from Kosovo.

130 personnel remain overseas in some 14 different mission areas and headquarters. A further 140 troops remain on standby for six months from 01st January 2011 for short notice deployments anywhere around the world as part of the EU Nordic Battle Group. The Government recently announced that it had approved the deployment of 440 Irish troops to Lebanon in the second quarter of next year, subject to Dail approval.


Army

At home, it was another busy year for our Bomb disposal teams. To date they have responded to 197 callouts, dealing with 47 viable Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) in addition to Rocket Propelled Grenades (RPGs), improvised mortars, conventional weapons and ammunition as well as dangerous chemicals.

The Army also carried out almost of 2,200 Cash In Transit (CIT) escorts and 178 prisoner escorts in support of the Gardai in addition to manning the State’s Vital Installations (VI’s) throughout the year, including Portlaoise Prison, the Central Bank, Government Buildings and Áras and Uachtaráin.

Considerable support was also given to local authorities in 2010. During the floods and snow at the end of 2009/beginning of 2010, 3,000 troops were deployed in support of local communities. So far during the current severe weather episode, 3,000 troops and 900 vehicles have been deployed in support of local authorities, the HSE and the Gardai. Around the country, troops have been transporting hospital staff to and from work, transporting palliative care and public health nurses to the homes of sick patients, providing a meals on wheels service to the elderly and house-bound, transporting newborn babies and mothers home from maternity hospitals, moving patients from rural areas to hospital to receive vital treatment such as dialysis and providing mobility to the Gardai in areas where roads are worst affected by the weather. Troops have also been clearing snow and ice from areas of high foot fall.


Air Corps

Our Air Corps carried out a total of 65 Air Ambulance operations this year, transporting neo-natal patients, transplant patients and other seriously ill patients to medical facilities in the UK and Ireland. Some 280 maritime patrols were also carried out, safeguarding Ireland’s interests at sea in conjunction with the Naval Service. The Air Corps also played a vital role in support of the Army in addition to flying the Garda Air Support Unit. In total, the Air Corps have flown in excess of 6,200 missions so far this year.


Naval Service

The Naval Service, as Ireland’s primary sea-going agency, had a busy year safeguarding Ireland’s interests at sea, carrying out its full quota of 1,480 patrol days. A total of 1,666 boardings were carried out in 2010, resulting in 70 warnings and 8 detentions. This represents a high level of compliance, demonstrating the effectiveness of regular inspections at sea. The Naval Diving section carried out 13 search and recovery operations at the request of the Gardaí or the Coast Guard. Eight recoveries of deceased persons were made. The Naval Diving Recompression chamber was used to treat injured civilian divers on 7 different occasions, while Joint Task Force operations on drugs interdiction in conjunction with Customs and Excise and the Gardai also continued during the year. The LE Niamh also represented the State on a diplomatic and trade mission to Latin America in 2010.


Anniversaries

The Defence Forces celebrated a number of Anniversaries in 2010. Ireland’s Elite Special Forces, the Army Ranger Wing, marked 30 years in existence in March. In July, our peacekeeping pathfinders were celebrated in Baldonnel, when the 50th anniversary of our first peace support mission to Congo was remembered. In December, Uachtaráin na hEireann, President McAleese, held a reception to mark 30 years of women in the Defence Forces.
Defence Forces Severe Weather Assistance continues around the country

24th December 2010, 11.30am.


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