Ireland’s Army Ranger Wing Celebrates 30th Anniversary

The Ireland Defence Forces’ Army Ranger Wing doesn’t get a lot of publicity, so it might surprise you to know that its been around for 30 years!


Written by Steve Carroll

A HIGHLY trained wing of the Defence Forces offered a rare public demonstration of its skills with a range of lethal weapons and high-tech equipment to mark its 30th anniversary.

Members of the Army Ranger Wing (ARW) showed their proficiency in leading anti-terrorist assaults, combat diving, sniping, explosives, high-altitude parachuting and special reconnaissance work at the army base in the Curragh, Co Kildare.

The ARW was established in March 1980 to protect the State from terrorist activity, which had surged in the preceding years, as existing military and police tactics were deemed unsuitable for dealing with the threat.

“The kidnapping of politicians and businessmen as well embassy sieges and the hijacking of air and seagoing craft were a cause of considerable concern to democratic governments worldwide,” a Defence Forces spokesman said. “Ireland was not immune to such threats.”

The ARW initially focused specifically on developing the capability to act directly against terrorist threats and to respond to hijackings and siege situations.

Its capabilities have evolved to include the full spectrum of Special Forces functions on land, at sea and in the air.

The unit has since been deployed to regions as diverse as the jungles of East Timor (1999), the plantations of Liberia (2003) and more recently to the deserts of Chad (2008).

Information regarding the numerical strength of the ARW and the identity of its personnel has always been restricted, the spokesman said.

However, he said only the most determined, physically able and mentally robust candidates have successfully completed the gruelling three-week selection course for would-be recruits.

Only 15 per cent of candidates pass the test and before they are granted ARW status, and the green beret which sets the unit apart from the wider Defence Forces, a six-month probationary period must be completed.

“Their ethos of relentless determination and pursuit of excellence provides the Defence Forces with a very potent, niche Special Forces capacity which is at the forefront of Irelands military capability,” the spokesman added.

Official Homepage of the Army Ranger Wing:

Unofficial site:


Photo gallery (various sources)



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