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Irish Defence Forces

Cabinet clears way for Irish Defence Forces to send 174 troops to German-led EU Battlegroup

The Battlegroup will be on standby to respond rapidly to major humanitarian incidents and peacekeeping work.

THE GOVERNMENT HAS approved the participation of the Irish Defence Forces in a German-led EU Battlegroup.

The Cabinet cleared the way for the involvement and will see Irish troops, understood to be a mechanised infantry unit, joining the Battlegroup in 2024 and 2025. 

This will be the eighth occasion on which the Defence Forces have been part of the initiative and the first since 2020.

The military concept has a total strength of 2,000 personnel and is a two-year commitment. The military initiative will be on standby for the entirety of 2025 and respond on a European basis to UN mandated interventions.

The EU said they can also respond to humanitarian crises and act as a Quick Reaction Force to deploy to a hotspot before the arrival of a permanently positioned military unit. 

Micheál Martin TD, Tánaiste and Minister for Defence and Foreign Affairs, said it was a welcome move to increase Ireland’s involvement in overseas military operations.

“Experience has shown that Ireland’s previous participation in EU Battlegroups has enhanced the Defence Forces’ ability to work with other nations in a multinational environment and has served to enhance the Defence Forces reputation as a provider of a credible military capability for peacekeeping operations.

“Moreover, the Defence Forces participation in Battlegroups supports Ireland’s efforts in securing partners for UN blue hat operations due to the close civil and military relationships built through our participation,” he said. 

It is anticipated that the total number of the proposed Defence Forces contribution to the Battlegroup will be 174 personnel, largely comprised of a Mechanised Infantry Company together with a National Support Element.

Germany will lead the group while other participating members will include Austria, Croatia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Sweden.

Ireland has previously participated in the Nordic Battlegroups in 2008, 2011 and 2015, the UK-led EU Battlegroup in 2016 and the German-led Battlegroups in 2012, 2016 and in 2020.

The 2015 White Paper on Defence outlined that Ireland’s participation in the EU Battlegroup would show Ireland’s commitment to the development of EU capabilities in the area of Crisis Management Operations.

The Chief of Staff of the Defence Forces Lt General Seán Clancy had outlined how the Battlegroup would work while talking to delegates at the recent Representative Association of Commissioned Officers conference.

He said that as part of the EU Strategic Compass, a security planning document devised by the EU, there was development of a Rapid Deployable Capacity (RDC).

This is a Brigade Strength Multinational unit that can respond rapidly to the Petersburg Tasks or Crisis Management Operations up to 6,000km away from Europe.

There will be a minimum of two exercises, possibly in Europe in 2025 involving a Mechanised Infantry Company of 138 personnel and a national support element.

Along with that the Defence Forces has offered ten Officers and Non Commissioned Officers to the Force HQ in Strasbourg, France for one year commencing in January 2025.

The Chief of Staff said that it will be dealt with similar to the current international deployment by Irish Troops to locations such as Syria and Lebanon. 

People Before Profit TD Paul Murphy, who has been vocal in opposition to any foreign military involvement by Irish troops “condemned” the move.

“This is a blatant move by the Irish government, yet again to erode Irish military neutrality which continues the creep towards participation in a European army. 

“Ireland, as a supposedly neutral country, should have no participation in EU Battlegroups. This is part of the militarisation drive we are seeing from the government.

“This is an unacceptable move for a government representing a country that cherishes its neutrality,” he said.  

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