Monday 24 April 2017

Elite units train for combating terrorist attack

The elite unit training is the latest in a series of courses held since the ‘Charlie Hebdo’ attack in Paris in January last year. Photo: PA
The elite unit training is the latest in a series of courses held since the ‘Charlie Hebdo’ attack in Paris in January last year. Photo: PA
Tom Brady

Tom Brady

Elite units from the gardaí and the Defence Forces are set for a major training exercise on combating a terrorist attack.

It is aimed at boosting the capability of key agencies to respond to and manage a major emergency.

The table-top course is a joint initiative by the gardaí and the military, and is described as a critical part of the state of readiness to cope with an incident like a terrorist atrocity.

It is the latest in a series of courses held since the 'Charlie Hebdo' attack in Paris in January last year, and will be held at the Garda College in Templemore, Co Tipperary, next week.

The course will be attended by officers from the Emergency Response Unit and the Army Ranger Wing, among others.

It follows an international course on developing a comprehensive approach to a terrorist-style gun attack, which Ireland was asked to host at the military training centre at the Curragh last November.

That week-long course was held shortly after the Bataclan theatre and other terror attacks in Paris but had been planned several months earlier.

The training was funded by the Nato voluntary national contribution fund. Ireland was invited to host the course because of the reputation of the Defence Forces in disposing of improvised explosive devices, as well as the nation's membership of the Partnership for Peace programme.

Those taking part included special operations personnel from the Ranger Wing, explosive ordnance disposal teams, the Air Corps and the Garda Emergency Response Unit.

Representatives from 24 countries, including 22 EU states and the United States, also took part in the course.

Previous courses last year had been aimed at coping with what the Army describes as "marauding terrorist firearms attacks", including lone-wolf and random shootings.

But since the Paris incidents, there has been focus on planning a co-ordinated response to a well organised assault.

The exercise in Templemore will also concentrate on the roles to be played by the gardaí, the Defence Forces, the fire service and the ambulance service, in the minutes immediately after an emergency.

This is designed at streamlining and co-ordinating the interaction between the agencies and establishing the chain of command.

One officer said: "It is crucial that each agency knows and understands what the other is doing and is acquainted with the equipment being used."

The threat level here was raised to moderate after the 'Charlie Hebdo' attack, which means that a terror attack is possible but is not likely.

Irish Independent

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