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  • Liberia

    Last troops to return from Liberia

    From ireland.com18:07Tuesday, 29th May, 2007

    The last Irish soldiers serving in Liberia will return home this week marking the end of Ireland's four-year presence in the war-torn African country.

    The remaining 83 troops of the 96 Infantry Battalion under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Michael Kennedy will arrive at Casement Aerodrome in Baldonnel on Thursday.

    The Defence Forces first deployed to the UN Liberia mission (UNMIL) in late 2003 to help bring stability to the small volatile country after years of civil war.

    "Enormous progress in Liberia has been made with the stabilisation of the security situation, disarmament and demobilisation of combatants, democratic elections in October 2005 and a large increase in the long term peace building efforts by this multi-faceted crisis management operation," a Defence Forces spokesman said.

    "Large challenges still remain for the rehabilitation of Liberia and the UN force continues to provide security."

    Liberia is Africa's oldest republic, but it became better known in the 1990s for its long-running ruinous civil war and its role in a rebellion in neighbouring Sierra Leone.

    The conflict left the country in economic ruin and overrun with weapons.

    Since their deployment, Irish troops have served over 3,000 individual tours of duty in the western African state, with 40 special forces troops from the army ranger wing deployed over the last four years.

    Partnering with Sweden, the Irish battalion combined to provide the bulk of the UN military presence by land, sea and air in the form of a Quick Reaction Force (QRF), which took part in long range patrols to potential trouble spots.

    Mr Kofi Annan, then UN Secretary General, during a visit to Ireland in October 2004 said: "Ireland has been one of the few industrialised states to deploy formed units to sub-Saharan Africa, providing niche capabilities that really hold a peacekeeping operation together.

    "We need these specialist units very, very badly."

    One Irish soldier lost his life during deployment in the volatile region. Sergeant Derek Mooney was killed following a car accident on November 27, 2003.

    The Irish troops handed over their role of QRF to Pakistani troops on May 9 last.

    Currently Ireland has over 500 troops serving overseas in areas including western Sahara, Kosovo, Lebanon, and the Ivory Coast.
    Sir I cant find my peltors........Private they are on your face

  • #2
    Sun sets on Irish peace mission
    By Adam Kula

    The Irish Army is preparing to withdraw from the war-ravaged state of Liberia on Thursday, after nearly four years of keeping a fragile peace.

    The tiny west African republic saw some of the most savage violence in the continent's recent history.

    Following a ceasefire in August 2003, the Irish Defence Forces were tasked with restoring order as part of UNMIL, the United Nations peacekeeping force.

    Lt Col Michael Kennedy, joint commander of UNMIL, said the Irish arrived in a volatile war zone, still awash with arms.

    "When we came in a couple of years ago it was the norm to see people carrying rocket launchers and automatic weapons. There'd be an AK47 in almost every household," he said.

    "But now we've reached the stage where people know if we see them carrying a weapon on the streets, it's no laughing matter."

    Irish forces have carried out hundreds of patrols, often deep into remote jungle areas and former rebel strongholds, bringing schoolbooks, food and clothes to villagers.

    Three years ago people were worrying about whether they'd be alive the next day - it's moved from that to people worrying whether they'll have a job the next day
    Lt Col Michael Kennedy

    Their regular, heavily-armed presence has been aimed at undermining the authority of the country's warring factions.

    But although they have helped restore stability, almost four years on from the end of the fighting the capital Monrovia is still without electricity or clean water, and unemployment is estimated at more than 80%.

    "Believe it or not, this is massive progress," said Lt Col Kennedy.

    "Three years ago people were worrying about whether they'd be alive the next day. It's moved from that to people worrying whether they'll have a job the next day."

    The Irish army was also in charge of the rendition of Charles Taylor, Liberia's former president, now awaiting trial at The Hague for crimes against humanity.

    Irish troops are leaving after keeping the fragile peace for four years

    The success of the deployment is in stark contrast to Ireland's last African intervention - the disastrous mission to the Congo in 1960, when poor planning led to the deaths of 26 Irish soldiers.

    The only death of an Irish soldier during the Liberian mission was of 33-year-old Ranger Derek Mooney from Blackrock, Dublin, who died in a road accident south of Monrovia in 2003.

    More than 200,000 people are thought to have been killed during Liberia's 15-year conflict, and at one stage almost three-quarters of the population were forced to flee their homes.

    "There was a sense of relief to see us arrive, I think. Most people were just fought out," Comdt Mairtin Coffey said.

    "You'd be on patrol and see 18 to 20-year-olds with limbs torn off, and it's pretty obvious most were child soldiers. They need to be taught new skills to help get them past the trauma."

    There was a sense of relief to see us arrive, I think. Most people were just fought out
    Comdt Mairtin Coffey

    Comdt Shane Rockett, in charge of the battalion's charity fundraising, said: "The Paddy factor has certainly helped - we've just seemed to take naturally to interacting with the locals.

    "Many of the troops have volunteered at an Aids hospice in their spare time, and we hold poker nights to try and raise cash whenever we can."

    He said: "We're happy to have achieved something, and it will be sad to go. But I don't think anyone would turn down the prospect of a pub and a cold pint of Guinness right now."

    The 96th Infantry Battalion, drawn mostly from the west of Ireland, will be replaced by Pakistani troops while the new Liberian National Army completes its training.

    BBC, News, BBC News, news online, world, uk, international, foreign, british, online, service

    (One mistake RE: last African deployment, forgot Eritrea)
    Last edited by pym; 31 May 2007, 11:05.


    • #3
      This seemed as good a thread as any to ressurect:

      'He died who loved to live,' they'll say,
      'Unselfishly so we might have today!'
      Like hell! He fought because he had to fight;
      He died that's all. It was his unlucky night.