Monday 18 December 2017

Defence Forces look to double number of women in army - and increase strength of elite Ranger Wing

Members of the Defence Forces take part in the commemoration ceremony at Glasnevin
Cemetery yesterday
Members of the Defence Forces take part in the commemoration ceremony at Glasnevin Cemetery yesterday
Tom Brady

Tom Brady

The strength of the Army's special forces unit, the Ranger Wing, is to be increased substantially.

This is one of a series of key initiatives, signalled in the Government approved white paper on defence, which is being published later today.

Simon Coveney
Simon Coveney

The unit's expansion, which will bring numbers to well over a hundred, will allow for an increasing role by the rangers in tackling potential terrorist attacks at home and greater participation in dangerous peacekeeping deployments overseas.

The white paper also sets out a goal of doubling the number of women in the Defence Forces from the current six per cent.

The paper, which lays out defence policy for the next decade, is only the second to be published in the history of the State.

The initiatives will also pave the way for the military to play a major role in the multi-agency fight against cyber crime.

Defence Minister Simon Coveney
Defence Minister Simon Coveney

Defence Minister Simon Coveney, who is launching the document, has described it as providing a policy framework, which would provide the necessary flexibility to respond to a very dynamic security environment.

Mr Coveney was given the go-ahead by the Cabinet in July after a lengthy consultation period, which included a comprehensive conference at Farmleigh in the Phoenix Park last May.

The paper commits the government to purchasing three new ships for the Naval Service, including at least one with the capacity for a helicopter, as well as replacements for the Cessna and Casa aircraft for the Air Corps and new Mowag armoured personnel carriers and other upgraded equipment for the Army.

It also proposes the direct involvement of the Defence Forces in a new employment support scheme, which will be aimed at people in the 18-24 age group.

This scheme will be used to encourage people from disadvantaged areas to seek jobs with the military and other sectors.

An institute for peace support leadership will also be established at the Defence Forces training headquarters in the Curragh to focus on international education in peacekeeping and conflict resolution and the creation of military units to develop alongside garda specialist units for deployment in countries overseas where gender based violence, such as rape and sexual violence as used as weapons of war.

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