Given the recent positive media coverage of the advance deployment of the Army Ranger Wing to Chad, I feel it is an opportune time to highlight some issues which need to be aired if this highly skilled and respected group is to continue to provide such a valuable role for our Defence Forces.
In the past eight years, the Army Ranger Wing has lost almost half of its Assault Team Members -- these are the men in potentially hostile, foreign, inhospitable areas preparing the ground for regular Defence Force members of different nationalities.
There are two main reasons for this decline in numbers -- firstly, little difference in pay between unit members and comparative ranks in the conventional army and secondly, a lack of promotional prospects within the Army Ranger Wing.
The Army is currently under review and the Government expects to publish a White Paper by 2010 which will include proposals for how the force should be structured into the next decade and beyond.
Now is the time to debate and influence how best to secure the future of the Army Ranger Wing by addressing the issues concerning the men on the ground.
New members need to be encouraged and enticed to join the unit by offering appropriate remuneration and opportunities for career growth while carrying out a difficult and increasingly essential role.
A member of the Irish Army