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    The Irish Times Magazine


    Saturday 01 10 2005



    SECRET

    SERVICE


    Each year, Ireland’s elite-and highly secretive-Army Ranger Wing puts hopeful recruits to the test. Photographer Aidan Crawley follows the month-long selection process, a gruelling test that most will fail.


    “On my command,” shouts the instructor, “step off”. The young man in camouflage fatigues obeys without hesitation, plummeting 20m from the bridge into the icy water beneath. As he steps off the parapet he bellows “ranger”, the kind of soldier he wants to become .The bridge trial is the first of three confidence tests he will have to complete if he is to have a chance of joining the Army Ranger Wing, an elite unit of the Defence Forces.


    Based in the Curragh, in Co. Kildare, the ranger wing has played a key role in the DF over the past 25 years, supporting national security at home and abroad. It prepares for numereous military eventualities, including the storming of hijacked aircraft and foreign deployments with the UN. The rangers are also trained to deal with urban-conflict situations, such as hostage-taking, and are trained in parachuting, combat diving, small boat handling and mountaineering. The unit has been mobilised during jail riots and for VIP protection.


    The ranger wing was formed after a spate of IRA kidnappings
    in the 1970s, and that of
    The Dutch industrialist Dr Tiede Herrema, which led to a stand-off between the

    Kidnappers and security forces. After that, the government decided it needed a full-time

    Special forces unit, to help cope with such events.


    Last year, it was proposed to increase the unit’s numbers from around 100 to 120, in

    response to a heightened threat to global security and to the possibility of an attack on

    embassies in Dublin, including those of the US, Britain and Israel.


    Any member of the DF can apply for the arw annual month long test of physical and

    psychological endurance. Between 60 and 70 usually try out; perhaps only one in 10 will

    make it through. The rest fall by the wayside from injury or because they fail a test.

    Others cannot overcome their claustrophobia or fear of heights. Whatever the reason,

    they have to accept that their ambition exceeds their ability.


    Dealing with fear is a foundation for any of the tasks the wing are given. In 2003, for

    example, rangers were deployed in dangereous parts of Liberia, where they had to rely on

    their own resources to survive. Building the confidence they need for such missions

    begins on the selection course.




    The instructors are current rangers; most have served overseas, and some have trained

    with other special forces units. As one of them puts it: “ We have first hand experience of

    the selection course, so we know that, while it is tough, it is achievable. Everything we

    teach the during the course will stand to them in service.” In fact, even candidates who do

    not finish the course learn enough to benefit them when they return to their units. Many

    of those who are unsuccessful first time around apply a second time.


    The course’s fitness tests include running and marching on both roads and mountains.

    These are frequently followed by tests of mental agility; in a real battle, rangers may,

    After a long march, have to plan how to attack a target.


    One of the wings’ core values is teamwork. In many of their tasks, candidates must work

    together while suffering from mental and physical exhaustion, often running or

    crawling with 15kg of kit. In one exercise they have to run up a hill with a stretcher

    loaded with sandbags , to represent a wounded colleague. Their lungs scream for oxygen.


    The pace accelerates in the final week, when the remaining candidates demonstrate what

    they have learned, from long range patrolling to ambush and small unit tactics. It

    culminates in a late night attack on “enemy hq”, fighting soldiers drawn from a reserve

    battalion. (The reservists are only too glad to take on the prospective rangers, not least

    because they will be able to say that they worked with the Army’s elite).


    Whoeever survives until morning faces one last challenge before they can become

    probationary rangers. Before dawn they are tracked to the Glen of Imaal, in Co.

    Wicklow. At 5am they begin a blistering 40km march to the ranger barracks, back on the

    Curragh.


    Less than six hours later, the march ends where it all began, five weeks earlier. As they

    march proudly through the gates they are applauded by men in green berets- their new

    colleagues in the Army Ranger wing.


    By Aidan Crawley, with additional reporting by Declan Power, security analysist and

    author of Siege at Jadotville


    The Irish Times Magazine


    Saturday 01 10 2005
    Support the Search Function.


  • #2
    What RDF Bn supplies enemy for selection?

    Comment


    • #3
      Note, no mention of tractors.....
      Support the Search Function.

      Comment


      • #4
        On this occassion, the 8th Bn. They happened to be in the Glen at the time.

        Comment


        • #5
          Seems a bit over-simplified if you ask me.
          Sex - Breakfast of Champions!

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Itchy
            Seems a bit over-simplified if you ask me.
            It's for a newspaper's magazine, read by the general public, not An Cosantoir.
            "The dolphins were monkeys that didn't like the land, walked back to the water, went back from the sand."

            Comment


            • #7
              Any good photos with the article joshua?
              "Let us be clear about three facts. First, all battles and all wars are won in the end by the infantryman. Secondly, the infantryman always bears the brunt. His casualties are heavier, he suffers greater extremes of discomfort and fatigue than the other arms. Thirdly, the art of the infantryman is less stereotyped and far harder to acquire in modern war than that of any other arm." ------- Field Marshall Wavell, April 1945.

              Comment


              • #8
                The reservists are only too glad to take on the prospective rangers, not least because they will be able to say that they worked with the Army’s elite
                I hate working with the PDF or the ARW.

                They take it so seriously
                It is only by contemplation of the incompetent that we can appreciate the difficulties and accomplishments of the competent.

                Comment


                • #9
                  L.O.L
                  "Let us be clear about three facts. First, all battles and all wars are won in the end by the infantryman. Secondly, the infantryman always bears the brunt. His casualties are heavier, he suffers greater extremes of discomfort and fatigue than the other arms. Thirdly, the art of the infantryman is less stereotyped and far harder to acquire in modern war than that of any other arm." ------- Field Marshall Wavell, April 1945.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    wrong thread
                    Dr. Venture: Why is it every time I need to get somewhere, we get waylaid by jackassery?

                    Dr. Venture: Dean, you smell like a whore

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Joshua
                      ...Any member of the DF can apply for the arw annual month long test of physical and psychological endurance. Between 60 and 70 usually try out; perhaps only one in 10 will make it through...

                      Hey look, it says "any member of the DF." Aren't FCA guys also members of the DF. Perhaps some of you more high-speed FCA types (you know who you are) should give it a whirl? Some of you even own all the gear already, so you'd have a leg up on some of the other applicants.

                      C'mon, who's got the balls to try out for it? No excuses now.

                      Later.

                      [MOD: I see you still have that big spoon]
                      No-one, I think, is in my tree...

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Sounds like deadly craic actually! I'm sure jumpin off a the bridge after your've been run ragged by merciless instructors sucks, but doin it drunk is a blast.
                        Amateurs built the ark. Professionals built the Titanic.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          It should read PDF, journalist take note!

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Some of you even own all the gear already, so you'd have a leg up on some of the other applicants.
                            And Para wings as well

                            BTW Strummer - whats high speed mean
                            Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
                            Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
                            The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere***
                            The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
                            The best lack all conviction, while the worst
                            Are full of passionate intensity.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              hi-speed = gucchi
                              "The dolphins were monkeys that didn't like the land, walked back to the water, went back from the sand."

                              Comment

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