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Sunday 24 September 2017

Troops put through their paces before deployment to Lebanon

Sarah Stack

Sarah Stack

TROOPS have been put through their paces before deployment to Lebanon next month.

Father and son Sergeant Anthony Jinks and Private Corey Jinks will be among 330 members of the Defence Force who will serve as peacekeepers in the Middle East.

They took part in a mission readiness exercise at the Glen of Imaal where they faced a series of scenarios involving simulated explosive strikes, air mobile helicopter drills, anti-ambush tactics using a variety of advanced weapons systems, detailed planning and traditional peacekeeping methods.

Major General Ralph James, Deputy Chief of Staff (Operations), said he was impressed by the standard of training, professionalism and leadership that he witnessed in the robust and realistic exercise.

"I know that this unit will continue the long and proud tradition of Irish soldiers putting themselves in harm's way for peace and security overseas," he said.

The members of the 107th IrishFinn Battalion have been undergoing the final phases of an intensive training exercise in preparation for their mission with the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (Unifil).

The battalion will occupy a new post, which will be renamed Camp Shamrock, south of the village of At Tiri and around seven kilometres from the Blue Line boundary between Lebanon and Israel.

Some 177 Finnish soldiers deployed by their country are an integral part of the mission, with five taking part in the training exercise.

The 107th IrishFinn Battalion will be commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Dave Dignam, a native of Dublin but who is based in Donegal.

"I am looking forward to the challenge of leading this joint Irish and Finnish unit in such a potentially volatile area," he said.

"We have a tough six months of duty ahead of us, including Christmas away from home, but I have full confidence in my multinational team to get the job done."

Irish officers were first sent to Lebanon as observers in 1958, with the first battalion sent as part of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (Unifil) in 1978, formed after Israeli troops occupied the region.

A total of 47 Irish soldiers have lost their lives while on peacekeeping duties in the country.

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