The elite special operations force of the Irish Defense Forces, the military of Ireland. This Irish Army’s branch recruits soldiers from the Naval Service and Air Corps. The ARW operates both domestically and internationally, and reports directly to the Chief of Staff. The unit has over 150 members and based in Curragh Camp, County Kildare. It was established in 1980 and has been active for the past 36 years.
ARW operatives have been involved in many international peacekeeping missions, such as Somalia, East Timor, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Cyprus, Lebanon, Western Sahara, Liberia and Chad. The ARW mostly trains with the western special forces units, such as European and North American. The unit’s domestic duties are counter-terrorism, intelligence gathering, hostage rescue and close protection of the VIPs. The roles of Army Ranger Wing are split between conventional military and unconventional warfare and specialist Aid to the Civil Power duties.
From 1960 to 1980, a number of Irish Defense Force operatives went to the United States Army Ranger School in Georgia. When they returned, they created similar courses to bring the standards of training throughout the Defense Forces and meet international standards and demands to reach the level of NATO forces. Students on the first course were drafted from among all ranks and units of the Army. The increased international terrorist acts, such as Munich Massacre and hostage takings by the Provisional IRA resulted formalizing the standards of the training and formation of ARW. The first mission of the unit was deployment to Somalia, under the authorization of the United Nations in 1993.
Selection and training for the unit lasts 36 weeks. Special reconnaissance, combat diving, parachuting and other skills are taught during that time. The selection process is held annually, mostly in October, with three weeks of preliminary courses. The candidates must be members who are currently serving in the Permanent Defense Forces, from any of three branches (Army, Air Corps or Naval Services). There are no age restrictions, as well as a rank in the selection process. The selection is open to any gender, but no female candidate has passed the initial training course. If the students pass the selection, then they are sent on a half year special forces skills courses, that includes survival training, long-range penetration, mountaineering, counter-terrorism, urban warfare, advanced combat shooting, sniping, hand-to-hand combat, riot control and various other skills that are necessary to conduct missions anywhere. In 2016 the ARW improved and changed its selection and assessment procedures for successful students. Two ARW Selection and Basic Skills courses were merged and changed into ARW Special Operations Force Qualification Course. It is meant for those who already have high levels of physical fitness, personal motivation, navigation skills and aspiration to serve in the ARW. The new course lasts for 40 weeks.