Irish Army Rangers: Wikis


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Sciathán Fiannóglach an Airm
Shoulder flash of Sciathán Fiannóglach an Airm
Active March 16, 1980[1] - Present
Country Ireland
Branch Army
Type Special Forces
Size Classified[2]
Garrison/HQ Curragh Camp, County Kildare[3]
Motto Glaine ár gcroí, neart ár ngéag agus beart de réir ár mbriathar
(The cleanliness of our hearts, the strength of our limbs and our commitment to our promise)[4]
Shoulder Tab RANGERS.jpg

The Irish Army Ranger Wing (ARW, Irish: Sciathán Fianóglach an Airm)[4] is the special forces unit of the Irish Defence Forces.

The ARW trains and operates with many international special operations units worldwide, including the US Army Rangers,[3] Delta Force[3] and Navy SEALs, French GIGN,[5] German GSG 9,[5] Canadian Joint Task Force 2 Swedish SSG,[5] Italian COMSUBIN,[5] Australian SAS[3] and New Zealand SAS[3] among others.

The Army Ranger Wing is the Republic of Ireland's premier hostage rescue unit, and trains closely with the specialised firearms service of An Garda Síochána (known as the Emergency Response Unit or ERU).[3] In any major hostage incident the Ranger Wing would be involved with the ERU in a supporting role.[3]



Members of the ARW in a Ford F350 SRV mounted with a Browning M2 .50cal HMG

‎In the late 1960s and early 1970s a small number of Irish Defence Forces personnel attended the United States Army Ranger School at Fort Benning, Georgia, USA.[3] On their return, these personnel organised similar courses with the goal of bringing standards of training throughout the Irish Defence Forces into line with accepted international standards. The first course was conducted in the Military College in the Curragh Army Camp in 1969 with 12 officer students. Students on these courses were selected from among all ranks and units of the Army, Air Corps and the Naval Service[3][6] and covered physical endurance, marksmanship, individual military skills and small unit tactics.

Formalising these standards and creation of the Army Ranger Wing resulted from the increase in international terrorism in the late 1970s and 1980s.[7] The increased skills and endurance training of 'Ranger'-trained personnel provided the basis for the creation of a new specialist unit to counter these threats.[7] The Army Ranger Wing (ARW) was formally established, in accordance with the Defence Act, by Government order on March 16, 1980.[6][1]


The unit's official name is "Sciathán Fiannóglach an Airm", which roughly translates into English as "Army Ranger Wing".[4]

"Fiannóglach" (representing "Ranger") is an amalgamation of two words. "Fiann" is closest to the English word "warrior", and refers to the ancient band of warriors known as Na Fianna in Irish Mythology. "Óglach" (literally 'young hero') means "soldier" and refers to the name of the Defence Forces in Irish: Óglaigh na hÉireann. Na Fianna were purportedly expert warriors, so the addition of the word Fian- before Oglaigh denotes an elite element to the wing.


The ARW has a wide variety of roles, covering conventional warfare, anti-terrorist warfare and training for the Defence Forces including:[3][8]

  • Offensive Operations behind enemy lines, e.g. Securing of vital objectives, Long Range Patrolling - Raids - Ambushes - Sabotage, Capture of key personnel, Diversionary Operations.
  • Defensive Operations, e.g. VIP Protection, Counter-insurgency.
  • Specialist Aid to the Civil Power (Anti-Terrorist Tasks).
  • Standards, e.g. Testing and evaluation of military equipment, conducting specialist courses.
  • Returning highly-skilled personnel to the Defence Forces on completion of service in the ARW.

Training and selection

Selection for the ranger wing lasts 3 weeks,[9] plus on success of completion, another 6 months continuation where basic skills such as LRRP, parachuting are taught - which takes place annually,[9] usually in October. Course candidates must be serving members of the Defence Forces,[9] but are not subject to an age limit.[10] The 3 week course is organised into 2 distinct phases. Selection is open to females, although none have passed the initial training course.[11]

In the first phase, instructors demonstrate the basic requirements to become a Ranger and candidates must pass a number of initial physical tests - including: water confidence training, assault course training, individual navigation tests as well as a 10 km combat run test.[10] If a candidate fails more than 3 out of the 9 basic tests they are returned to their home unit.[10] A selection course may only be attempted 3 times by any candidate.[10]

In the second phase, candidates are taught special forces tactics such as long range reconnaissance patrolling, surveillance, intelligence gathering, search tactics, and ambush organisation.[9] The course culminates in a 40 km group march which must be completed in a set time.

In all, candidates must complete assessment in the following areas:

  • Abseiling - Assesses a student's confidence when working at height.
  • Bridge jump - Tests confidence in water.
  • River crossing - Evaluates ability to work in a team.
  • Claustrophobia - Tests a student's ability to work with their equipment in confined spaces.
  • Gym tests - Assesses muscular endurance and strength while performing a set number of exercises.
  • 10 km run - Tests cardiovascular endurance over a set distance and time.
  • Mountain walk - Tests endurance over a set uphill march, while carrying a medium load.
  • Hill circuit - Assesses stamina and strength over a set cross-country course, while carrying a light load.
  • Forced march "cross-country" - Assesses stamina and strength over a set cross-country course and time while carrying a medium load around 15 kg.
  • Forced march "road" - A group test to assess the student's tolerance of pressure over a set course and time, while carrying a medium load, the distance is between 35–40 km.
  • Route march - A group test to assess overall stamina, endurance and strength during a forced march over the mountains while carrying a medium load.

Of the 40 to 80 candidates that start the annual Ranger selection course, only 15% remain at the conclusion.[10] All candidates who successfully complete the Ranger course are presented with the Fianóglach shoulder flash.[10]

If a student passes selection at this stage, they are sent on a further six-month ranger skills course. This course includes long range reconnaissance and survival training, unarmed combat, anti-terrorist and close quarters combat skills, advanced first aid, advanced combat shooting and parachuting.[10] Upon passing this selection course and probationary period they then earn the right to wear the prestigious Green beret.

Some other Rangers are chosen to specialize in various fields like combat diving.[12] Some parts of the combat diving training course are done under the supervision of the Naval Service's Naval Service Diving Section.[12]

The ARW also has its own purpose built tactical training facility, including "shoot houses", training ranges and various urban settings. The facility is known as "Tac town".

Command and communications

ARW operators conducting vehicle counter assault drills

The Officer Commanding the Army Ranger Wing is responsible for the Administrative, Disciplinary and Operational control of the unit, and is in turn directly under the command of The Chief of Staff at Defence Forces HQ.[13] The Army Ranger Wing is on immediate call for operations throughout the State.[13]

The ARW is equipped with state of the art ITT SINCGAR, RACAL and Harris communications equipment,[13] all of which have an inbuilt encryption and frequency hopping systems. It is also equipped with satellite communications, though it should be noted that Ireland is a neutral state and therefore does not have its own military satellites.


ARW training - prior to deployment to Liberia

The Army Rangers have seen active service assisting peacekeepers in Chad, Liberia, East Timor, Somalia and Lebanon, as well as operations at home in the 1980s against the Provisional Irish Republican Army and other armed groups.


The ARW was deployed in Liberia following the Second Liberian Civil War as part of a peace-keeping contingent of more than 400 troops from the Irish Defence Forces, in turn part of the mixed Irish/Swedish Force Reserve Battalion of the United Nations mission in the country, UNMIL.

One of their most successful missions during this deployment was the rescue of a group of civilians captured by gunmen from renegade Government of Liberia forces.[14] Acting on intelligence, twenty heavily armed Rangers were dropped by helicopter into the town of Gbapa.[14] To avoid casualties among the hostages, the Rangers implemented a policy of non-lethal intervention and, after surrounding a 40-foot container containing the 35 hostages, rescued them.[14][15] The incident raised international prestige for the Irish military.[16]

An Army Ranger named Sergeant Derek Mooney was killed while conducting peacekeeping duties in Liberia.[17]

East Timor

In 1999, the Dáil voted to send the ARW to serve with the United Nations International Force, East Timor (INTERFET).[18] Mandated under a UN Security Council resolution, INTERFET was a peacekeeping force deployed to restore security in the region, support and protect the UN Mission in East Timor, and to facilitate humanitarian assistance operations. The detachment of 30 ARW personnel was involved in peacekeeping duties with Canadian and New Zealand troops near the West Timor border.[18][19]


As Ireland's premier hostage rescue unit, operators from the ARW were deployed to Iraq alongside Arabic-speaking members of G2 (the military intelligence branch of the Irish military), after Irish journalist Rory Carroll was abducted in 2005. The Rangers were charged with liaison with U.S. Special Operations Forces in regard to a possible rescue operation, and to provide security to the Irish Government representatives who were attempting to negotiate his release. Their assistance was not required however, as Mr. Carroll was released a short time later.[20][21]


An ARW force of 54 was deployed in 2008 in Chad[22] as part of the peacekeeping European Union Force (EUFOR TCHAD/RCA). The ARW arrived on 19 February 2008 and completed reconnaissance missions to select a mission base for the Irish Defence Force deployment (later named "Camp Ciara").


ARW operator with M3T shotgun


In addition to standard issue weapons of the Irish Defence Forces, weapons used by the ARW include:

Squad weapons

Support weapons

Ford F350 SRV

Vehicle-mounted weapons

Specialised equipment


  1. ^ a b "Unofficial Army Ranger Wing Motto Page". Retrieved 2009-09-28.  
  2. ^ Irish Department of Defence. "Army Ranger Wing Ethos". Irish Defence Forces. Retrieved 2009-04-13.  
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Unofficial Irish Army Ranger Wing Page". Retrieved 2009-04-13.  
  4. ^ a b c Irish Department of Defence. "Irish Defence Force's ARW Page". Irish Defence Forces. Retrieved 2009-04-13.  
  5. ^ a b c d "Irish Paratroopers". Retrieved 2009-04-13.  
  6. ^ a b Irish Department of Defence. "Army Ranger Wing History". Irish Defence Forces. Retrieved 2009-04-13.  
  7. ^ a b "Specwarnet's Irish Army Ranger Wing Page". Retrieved 2009-04-13.  
  8. ^ Irish Department of Defence. "Army Ranger Wing Roles". Irish Defence Forces. Retrieved 2009-04-13.  
  9. ^ a b c d Irish Department of Defence. "Army Ranger Wing Training". Irish Defence Forces. Retrieved 2009-04-13.  
  10. ^ a b c d e f g "Unofficial Army Ranger Wing Selection Page". Retrieved 2009-04-13.  
  11. ^ Dáil Éireann. "Written Answers - Defence Forces Deployment.". Oireachtas. Retrieved 2009-10-01.  
  12. ^ a b "Unofficial The Irish Defence Forces Army Ranger Wing Combat Diving Page". Retrieved 2009-10-01.  
  13. ^ a b c Irish Department of Defence. "Army Ranger Wing C3 Function". Irish Defence Forces. Retrieved 2009-04-13.  
  14. ^ a b c Tom Brady (2004-01-08). "Crack troops rescue hostages from gunmen in daring raid". Irish Independent. Retrieved 2009-04-13.  
  15. ^ "Smith praises Irish UN rescue in Liberia". Radio Telefís Éireann. 2004-01-08. Retrieved 2009-04-13.  
  16. ^ Ruairi Kavanagh. "Liberia: Waking from the Nightmare". Retrieved 2009-10-01.  
  17. ^ James McKenna (2003-11-28). "Irish Army Ranger killed in Liberia". Retrieved 2009-10-01.  
  18. ^ a b "Overseas Operations - UNAMET, INTERFET, UNTAET & UNMISET". Irish Defence Forces. Retrieved 2009-10-01.  
  19. ^ Dáil Éireann. "Written Answers - Army Ranger Wing.". Oireachtas. Retrieved 2009-10-01.  
  20. ^ Tony Harnden (2005-10-23). "Westerners face new fears as Rory returns to his delighted family". Irish Independent. Retrieved 2009-04-13.  
  21. ^ Ewen MacAskill and Vikram Dodd (2005-10-28). "Iraqi police praised as four arrested over abduction". The Guardian. Retrieved 2009-04-13.  
  22. ^ "50 Irish troops arrive in Chad". Radio Telefís Éireann. 2008-02-21. Retrieved 2009-04-13.  
  23. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m "Unofficial Army Ranger Wing Weapons Page". Retrieved 2009-04-13.  
  24. ^ "Remington 870 Combat Shotgun". Retrieved 2010-01-09.  
  25. ^ a b c "Irish Military Online - Weapons".  
  26. ^ "Unofficial The Irish Defence Forces Army Ranger Wing Weapons Page". Retrieved 2009-10-01.  
  27. ^ Gourley, S.; Kemp, I (November 2003). "The Duellists". Jane's Defence Weekly (ISSN: 02653818), Volume 40 Issue 21, pp 26-28.
  28. ^ "New ARW Weapons". D&I Magazine (July 2004)


External links

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