1.0     Introduction

This article provides an overview of the Irish Army Ranger Wing (ARW), the Special Operations Force (SOF) of the Irish Defence Forces (IDF).

“The Rangers constitutes the [Irish] Defence Forces’ special forces capability.” (Murtagh, 2016).

Within the Irish Defence Force there is a unit known as “Sciathan Fhiannoglaigh an Airm” (English translation Irish Defence Forces’ Army Ranger Wing). Formed in 1980 from Ranger-trained IDF personnel, the Irish Army Ranger Wing (ARW) is the Republic of Ireland’s military special operations force (SOF) and counter-terrorist (CT) force. The unit is based at Curragh Camp, in County Kildare.

Members of the ARW are officially known as ARW Assault Team Operators.

Part One of this article looks at women and the ARW, then discusses the difference between tier 1 and tier 2 forces and highlights the methods of entry. It then outlines the roles and tasks of the ARW before finally providing a brief history on its origins. Part Two looks at the organisation of ARW, including political and military oversight, and the role of the Commander ARW. Part Three provides an outline of the selection and training undertaken by ARW candidates. Finally, Part Four provides some useful links and identifies other articles the reader may find useful.

1.1     Aim

The aim of this article is to provide an overview of the selection and training process of the Irish Army Ranger Wing (ARW).

1.2     Women and the Irish Army Ranger Wing

Although women have been able to apply for the ARW since 1984 (Popular Military, 2017), no women have so far volunteered for the selection and training programme.

“But the Wing has yet to acquire a female member. “We have never had a woman apply to join,” a senior officer explained. “Maybe there is a perception that they might not be welcome here but that is certainly not true”.” (Brady, 2014).

1.3     Tier 1 and Tier 2 Special Forces

The Irish Army Ranger Wing is sometimes referred to as a ‘Tier 1’ SF unit because they are the unit that is usually tasked with direct action. Other special operations forces are referred to as ‘Tier 2’ units as they, usually, fulfil a supporting role for the Tier 1 units.

1.4     Method of Entry

The ARW is not a direct entry role, meaning civilians cannot join the ARW directly. The ARW recruits members directly from the IDF for a variety of roles.

1.5     Roles and Tasks

The role of ARW is divided into conventional warfare role and Aid to Civil Power (ATCP) roles, as outlined below (IDF, 2018c):

  • Specialist ATCP Operations:
    • Counter-terrorism (CT) is the primary, and most important, role of the ARW.
    • Anti-Hijack Operations: aircraft, ferry, ship, bus, train.
    • Hostage rescue (HR) operations.
    • Airborne and seaborne interventions.
    • Search operations: difficult or dangerous specialist tasks on land or at sea.
    • Pursuit operations over any terrain.
    • Recapture of terrorist-held objectives: vital installations, embassies, airports, summit venues, broadcasting and government facilities, and gas and oil rigs.
    • VIP security operations/close protection (CP) of VIP’s.
    • Contingency planning to counter terrorist/subversive threat.
  • Offensive Operations:
    • Securing of vital objectives.
    • Long range reconnaissance patrols (LRRP) in support of conventional forces.
    • Raids, ambushes, and sabotage.
    • Capture of key enemy personnel.
    • Diversionary operations.
    • Intelligence gathering.
  • Defensive Operations:
    • VIP protection.
    • Counter-insurgency.
    • Foreign Internal Defence (FID): Training in and conduct of specialist operations, i.e. training a host country’s police or military CT/HR unit(s).
    • Delay operations.
  • Advancement of Defence Forces Standards:
    • The ARW contributes to the improvement of standards in military and related skills throughout the Defence Forces by:
      • Testing and evaluation of certain military equipment for the Defence Forces.
      • Organising and participating in Defence Forces training exercises.
      • Conducting specialist courses.
      • Returning highly skilled ARW personnel to all Corps of the Defence Forces on completion of service in the ARW.

Within the ARW/IDF, the above operations are divided into (O’Regan, 2018):

  • Green Role’ which involves LRRP, direct action, sabotage etc. These would be operations conducted abroad.
  • Black Role’ which involves CT and HR, as well as VIP protection. These would be operations conducted domestically.

Although ARW’s domestic involvement in Ireland remains secret, they have been officially deployed under the umbrellas of NATO (Partnership for Peace), the United Nations and the European Union (EU).

Deployments include ‘peacekeeping’ engagements in Western Sahara, Somalia (1993-94), Eritrea, Liberia (2003), Central African Republic, Chad (2008), Lebanon, West Timor (Indonesia) and East Timor (‘Timor-Leste’), Cyprus, Croatia, Kosovo, and Bosnia-Herzegovina (Thompson, 2013; Brady, 2014).

The ARW are also credited with limited involvement in the Sinai Desert (Egypt & Israel), the Iran-Iraq border, and in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Generally, ARW’s deployments are part of a larger contingent, either from Ireland or with international forces.

1.6     Brief History of the ARW

The Army Ranger Wing or ‘Sciathán Fianóglach an Airm’ in Gaelic, maintains a link with its Irish ancestors. The term ‘Fianóglach’ harkens back to ‘Na Fianna’ (‘The Warriors’ in English), who were legendary and can also be seen on the ARW’s shoulder-tab insignia. The Fianna were early hunter-warrior bands of Irish, Scottish and Manx history, mythology and folklore. You can read more about their history here.

The ARW can trace its modern lineage to a small group of IDF personnel who were selected to attend US Army Ranger training at Fort Benning, Georgia, between 1968 and 1971 (Cusack, 2004). The group was drawn from senior non-commissioned officers (NCO’s) and officers of all branches of the Irish armed forces.

“During the 1960s with tension mounting in Northern Ireland, the Government tasked the Defence Forces with the establishment of the Special Assault Groups (SAG) to meet the security challenges from across the border.” (Bourke, 2009, p.16).

Early graduates of the US Army Ranger training programme formed the initial training cadre at the Irish Ranger School, located at Curragh Camp, County Kildare, designing and delivering the first Irish Ranger course in 1969. This course had 12 students (Lavery, 2009) and was the precursor of the ARW Selection Course. The Irish course emphasised the same skills taught to US Rangers, including small unit tactics, endurance, survival, and marksmanship.

By the mid-1970s, the IDF had over 300 Ranger-qualified personnel who conducted special support operations on the request of An Garda Síochána. The newly established SAG’s in each command had 40 Rangers in all-arms, engineering, and ordnance techniques (Bourke, 2009). Although one former Ranger noted “…I was also in Oak Leaf, which was around before the SAG. So I have seen our special forces evolve right from the start.” (Bourke, 2010, p.12).

Volunteers were required to pass a gruelling four-week selection course, with survivors of the selection course then advancing to the six-month-long basic skills course. The course provided instruction in:

  • Combat medicine;
  • Weapons and explosive handling;
  • Hostage rescue training and tactics;
  • Close-quarter battle (CQB) and precision shooting survival training;
  • Mountaineering;
  • LRRP; and
  • A basic parachute course.

Upon completion of initial training Ranger-qualified personnel could then progress to more specialised training courses conducted by the unit and other services. Personnel who successfully completed the demanding course were awarded a black and gold ‘Fianoglach’ or Ranger tab.

The evolution of the ARW resulted from an increase in international terrorism in the late 1970s and 1980s. The kidnapping of politicians and businessmen, as well as the hijacking of air and seagoing craft, was of considerable concern to democratic governments. European and other countries realised that conventional police and military tactics were not suited to dealing with this escalating threat.

With this rise in terrorism, the then Irish Government felt it would be prudent to have members of the military receive more specialised training (Bennett, 2011). As a result:

  • Several members of the Irish Ranger training programme received CT training from the Royal Netherlands Marine Corps (RNLMC). The RNLMC first elite CT unit was called the Bijzondere Bijstandseenheid Mariniers (BBE-M) and was formed in 1973 in response to the Munich Olympics terrorist incident.
  • After conducting a review of international HRT/CT units and the SAG in 1978 (Bourke, 2016), the Irish Government directed the formation of a new military SOF unit.

Operational on 16 March 1980 (Bourke, 2016), the Irish Army Ranger Wing became the Republic of Ireland’s military SOF and CT force, operating under the direct control of the Chief of Staff, the Irish Army’s professional head. The skills and training of Ranger-qualified personnel provided the perfect basis for this new specialist unit.

“Only three Rangers are confirmed to have been killed since 1980, with only one overseas casualty.” (Popular Military, 2017).

In 1981, the ARW received its colours; Black, Red, and Gold signifying secrecy, risk, and excellence (Bourke, 2010).

In 1984, ARW selection was opened to women (Popular Military, 2017).

The Rangers have deployed several times since 1980. “Since the Republic of Ireland is a neutral state, ARW deployments outside of Ireland have been for “peacekeeping missions.” The first of these was to Somalia in 1993, when members of the ARW were deployed to provide convoy security.” (Thompson, 2013).

“A decade later in 1991, the unique nature of the unit was recognised when the ARW where granted permission to wear the Green Beret.” (Bourke, 2010, p.11).

During the Second Liberian Civil War (1999–2003), approximately 40 ARW operators (Brady, 2004) deployed with a contingent of more than 400 IDF troops to give the ARW a SOF capability. Among their missions in Liberia was a successful rescue of hostages taken by renegade Liberian troops. In 1999, 30 members of the ARW were sent to East Timor to operate alongside New Zealand and Canadian troops along the West Timor border (McDonald, 2001). A larger ARW deployment of 54 operators took place in Chad in 2008, where the ARW operators conducted reconnaissance missions to select a secure base for the larger IDF deployment that followed.

In conjunction with the security and intelligence unit of the Garda (An Garda Siochana, the national police force), the Army Range Wing conducts regular counter-intelligence surveillance (Cusack, 2004).

On 19 June 2009, the ARW celebrated their 40th anniversary by putting on a display at their base at Curragh Camp (Lavery, 2009). The event was attended by Lieutenant General Dermot Earley, the then lasting serving member of the first Ranger Selection Course (Lavery, 2009).

In 2014, the ARW selection and training process is revamped with the introduction of the Special Operations Force Qualification (SOFQ) Course.

In 2017, “the Army Ranger Wing, are to be given a more direct and high-profile role in responding to the threat of international terrorism spreading to Ireland.” (Murtagh, 2017). This would entail increased co-operation and training with the Garda’s Emergency Response Unit (ERU) and the Armed Response Unit (ARU), to include enhanced joint training exercises and large scale public exercises.

In 2018, the ARW “won the overall international categories – making them the best sniper team in the world.” (Ryan, 2018). The ARW won the event at the US Army’s international sniper competition hosted in Fort Benning, Georgia, USA. They made history by being the “first non-USA team to win an international sniper competition.” (Ryan, 2018).

On 10 February 2018, the ARW learned that it would form a significant element within a 148-strong military detachment of a German battle-group that would be on standby from 2020, taking part in a live joint training exercise prior to this (Brady, 2018).

The ARW would spearhead a special operations task group as part of the deployment, comprising a special operations platoon, bomb disposal, and a security platoon. It would be the first active overseas deployment since 2008, and tasks would include long-range reconnaissance, gathering intelligence and target acquisition (Brady, 2018).

“The thirty years has seen the ARW move from a primarily antiterrorist (black role) unit to operating as a Special Operations Group (green role) on Defence Forces overseas missions; such as in Somalia, East Timor, Liberia and Chad.” (Bourke, 2010, p.11).

1.7     Motto

Glaine ár gcroí (the cleanliness of our hearts)
Neart ár ngéag (The Strength of our limbs)
Agus beart de réir ár mbriathar (and our commitment to our promise)

The Unit motto is taken from an old Fianna poem and continues the link with which the name is associated. It is written in the Irish language.

1.8     Internal Security

A Defence White Paper, published in August 2015, noted that the Department of Justice and Equality and An Garda Síochána have primary responsibility for protecting the internal security of the Republic of Ireland. The IDF provide, on request, supports in aid to the civil power of an ongoing and contingent nature.

As such, An Garda Síochána can request a broad range of supports from the IDF, including explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) teams and the ARW.

Ongoing co-ordination and liaison meetings take place between the IDF and An Garda Síochána. Based on ongoing threat assessments, the Garda and the IDF liaise with regard to possible IDF supports required for a range of contingencies. As part of this co-operation, initiatives to enhance support and interoperability include the development of agreed protocols, joint seminars on response to a terrorist attack and table-top exercises on crisis management.

With regards to dealing with internal threats, for example, a terrorist attack, the Irish Government has two specialist units:

  • An Garda Síochána’s Emergency Response Unit (ERU); and
  • The IDF’s ARW.

An Garda Síochána is first in line to respond to any internal threat with the ARW providing second-line response when requested. With this in mind, the decision to seek support from the IDF is an operational matter for An Garda Síochána. Between January and June 2017, the IDF performed 167 ‘aid to civil power’ duties at Shannon Airport (Houses of the Oireachtas, 2017), largely to do with foreign military aircraft.


2.0     Introduction

The Irish Defence Forces consist of the:

  • Permanent Defence Force (PDF), who are full-time soldiers, and includes the Irish Army, Naval Service and Air Corps; and;
  • Reserve Defence Force (RDF) who are part-time and train on a voluntary basis.

Although the President of the Republic of Ireland is the supreme commander, it is a largely symbolic role. Practical military command is exercised by the Irish Government through the Minister of Defence.

ARW operates under the direct control of the Army Chief of Staff, the Irish Army’s professional head, who reports to the Minister of Defence.

2.1     Defence Forces Training Centre

The Defence Forces Training Centre (DFTC) is located in The Curragh Camp, County Kildare, and consists of (IDF, 2018a; 2018b):

  • A HQ element;
  • All Defence Forces training, education and logistical units;
  • 1st Mechanised Infantry Company;
  • 1st Armoured Cavalry Squadron; and
  • The Army Ranger Wing.

2.2     What is the Size of the ARW?

“Its precise strength is never disclosed, but it is believed to be significant by international standards.” (Murtagh, 2016).

In 2014, it was reported that:

“IRELAND’S elite military unit, the Army Ranger Wing, has increased in strength by almost one-third. The move allows the Rangers to expand their roles overseas and at home as well as prepare for fresh tasks in line with international developments. The 30pc increase in numbers pushes the overall strength of the Wing to well over a hundred, although the military are reluctant to state an exact figure.” (Brady, 2014).

In August 2015, a Defence White Paper stated that the ARW would double in size (Murtagh, 2017).

General consensus states there are between 100 and 150 operators within the ARW. The unit was reported to be “120-strong” in 2016 (O’Toole, 2016).

“By the mid-70s, the Defence had over 300 fully trained Rangers who conducted special support operations on the request of An Garda Síochána.” (Bourke, 2009, p.16).

In December 2017, it was stated that “there has been little or no expansion in the specialist unit since Mr Coveney made the promise. In fact, the ARW is far smaller than it was during the height of the Troubles.” (O’Riordan, 2017).

2.3     Organisation of the ARW

Popular Military (2017) suggests the ARW was “Organized into Special Assault Groups of 40 Rangers each…” in the mid-1970s.

Montes (2013) suggests that, in 2004, the ARW was composed of:

  • “…two assault platoons, each comprising five assault teams of 3 or 4 commandos.”
  • One support platoon, with attached aviation EOD assets.

2.4     Commander ARW

The normal military chain of command applies from junior leader upwards. The Officer Commanding (OC) the ARW is responsible for the administrative, disciplinary and operational control of the unit.

The OC ARW in turn is directly under command of the Chief of Staff at Defence Forces HQ.


3.0     Introduction

This part of the article outlines the selection and training undertaken by candidates for the ARW.

Previously, candidates undertook a 4-week selection course followed by, for those who were successful, a 6-month Basic Skills Course, which was in effect a probationary period. Both these courses have since been superseded by the Special Operations Force Qualification (SOFQ) Course. The syllabus of all three is outlined in this part of the article.

3.1     Who Can Apply to the ARW?

“Army, Naval Service and Air Corps personnel who complete training for the Ranger Wing are regarded as the fittest, most motivated and most able members of the Defence Forces who are capable of operating under extreme pressure.” (Murtagh, 2016).

3.2     The ARW Selection Course

The first Ranger Selection Course was held in 1969 with 12 students (Lavery, 2009), and was the precursor of the ARW Selection Course.

The ARW Selection Course took place annually, usually in October, and was 4-weeks in duration.

It was divided into two phases.

  • Phase 1, lasting 3 weeks, consisted of physical test and assessments;
  • Phase 2, lasting 1 week, consisted of psychological evaluation.

Approximately 40 to 80 candidates would attend the ARW Selection Course, although in October 1999 there were 98 candidates (Allen, 2016). In 2006, the course reduced to 3-weeks.

The rigorous physical tests a candidate faced included:

  • Water confidence;
  • An assault course;
  • Land navigation; and
  • A 6.4 mile (10 km) combat run.

A candidate’s aptitude for special operations was also assessed, including LRRP, surveillance, intelligence gathering, ambush and counter-ambush, and a timed 28 mile (45 km) group march. Other tests included:

  • Abseiling/Rappelling: Assessed a candidate’s confidence to work at height.
  • Bridge Jump: Jumping from a bridge into water to test confidence in the water.
  • River Crossing: Evaluated ability to work in a team.
    Operating in confined spaces: To test candidate’s for claustrophobia.
  • Gym Tests: Assessed muscular endurance and strength while performing a set number of exercises.
  • 10 km Run: To be completed in less than 50 minutes. Tested cardiovascular endurance over a set distance and time.
  • Mountain Walk: Tested endurance over a set uphill march, while carrying a medium load.
  • Hill Circuit: Assessed stamina and strength over a set cross-country course, while carrying a light load.
  • Forced March (Cross-country): Assessed stamina and strength over a set cross-country course and time while carrying a medium load (20 kg over a distance of 25km to be completed in less than 6 hours 30 minutes).
  • Forced March (on road): A group test to assess the candidate’s tolerance of pressure over a set course and time, while carrying a medium load (20 kg over a distance is between 35 and 40 km at speed of 4 km per hour).
  • Route March: A group test to assess overall stamina, endurance and strength during a forced march over the mountains while carrying a medium load.

If a candidate failed 3 or more (out of 9) basic tests they were RTU’d (returned to unit), with approximately 15% of candidates successfully completing the ARW Selection Course. The ARW Selection Course could only be attempted three times.

In 2014, the 4-week ARW Selection Course was subsumed into the new Special Operations Force Qualification Course. The ARW Selection Course is now module 1 of the SOFQ Course, known as Assessment & Evaluation.

3.3     The Basic Skills Course

Those who passed, or survived, the ARW Selection Course moved on to six months of training in ranger skills, known as the Basic Skills Course.

Training included:

  • Combat survival;
  • LRRP;
  • CQB;
  • Unarmed combat;
  • Advanced land navigation;
  • Combat medicine;
  • Explosive entry;
  • HRT/CT tactics;
  • High-speed driving;
  • Close protection;
  • Sniping;
  • Small-boat operations;
  • Combat diving; and
  • Parachuting.

Candidates who successfully completed selection and training were awarded the Green Beret.

In 2014, the 6-month Basic Skills Course was subsumed into the new Special Operations Force Qualification Course. The Basic Skills Course is now modules 2 to 5 of the SOFQ Course.

3.4     The Special Operations Force Qualification Course

“Potential candidates for the Ranger Wing must now undergo a five-module course, lasting a total of 34 weeks.” (Brady, 2014).

Introduced in 2014, the Special Operations Force Qualification (SOFQ) Course is the combined selection and training programme for ARW candidates, and is targeted at officers, NCO’s and soldier of the PDF.

In 2014, the SOFQ Course was noted as being 34-weeks in duration (Brady, 2014), although the IDF noted it as 40-weeks in duration by 2015 (IDF, 2015), down to 36-weeks in 2018 (IDF, 2018d).

The SOFQ syllabus is designed to test and assess all aspects of the candidate’s character, military skills, ability, and general suitability to become a member of the ARW and provide the potential unit member with all the skills and knowledge necessary to function, in the role of SOF Assault Team Operator, on successful completion of the course.

The SOFQ course is 36 weeks long and is divided into five distinct modules:

  • Module 1: Assessment & Evaluation (3 weeks) (IDF, 2015).
  • Module 2: Skills & Leadership.
  • Module 3: SOF Terrorist Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures (TTPs).
  • Module 4: Counter Terrorism TTPs.
  • Module 5: Continuation training.

The aim of Module 1 is to assess the candidate’s levels of physical fitness, motivation and suitability to progress onwards to SOFQ Modules 2-5. During phase 1, all candidates must pass a series of fitness assessments, map reading and individual navigation assessments, claustrophobia, water confidence and psychometric testing, in order to progress to phase 2.

The candidate is then assessed further by a series of individual navigation exercises with set weights, but unknown distances and completion times, culminating in a 60km (37.3 mile) cross-country march carrying a 65lb (29.5kg) combat load.

Officer candidates are also subjected to rigorous assessment of their planning and decision-making skills, to assess suitability, to achieve a command appointment in the ARW.

Modules 2-5 consist of further training and assessment in areas such as:

  • SOF weapons and marksmanship;
  • Live fire tactical training (LFTT);
  • SOF conventional and CT TTP’s;
  • Combat water survival;
  • SERE (Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape);
  • Communications; and
  • Medical training.

Candidates are awarded the ‘Fianoglach’ tab on successful completion of Module 3 and are assigned to the unit and awarded the distinctive ARW Green Beret on completion of Module 4.

On conclusion of the SOFQ course, candidates are posted to an operational ARW task unit as an Assault Team Operator and can expect to undertake numerous further training.

On 10 October 2015, the IDF announced that nine (9) “determined members of the Defence Forces successfully completed the first module of a 40 week selection and qualification course for service within the prestigious Army Ranger Wing.” (IDF, 2015). The IDF then went on to state that over the previous 3 weeks, the students had marched over 250 km, carrying up to half their body weight, on various assessments, which concluded with a 65 km loaded march in the “Dublin & Wicklow mountain ranges.” (IDF, 2015).

“Students on the ARW SOFQ (Special Operations Force Qualification) Course have completed 25 weeks of a gruelling 40 week assessment. Regarded as the most difficult career path in the Defence Forces, typically less than 10% of applicants will successfully complete it. On Thursday, the aspiring Rangers completed a 26 mile endurance march as a conclusion to a fortnight intensive exercise that assessed long-range reconnaissance, Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Extraction (SERE) skills and Special Forces direct action assaults. While the successful completion of this landmark will be welcomed by all, further training awaits in order to become a fully qualified ARW Operator and earn that coveted Green Beret.” (IDF, 2016).

“On 13th May 2016, on the Hill of Allen, the ancestral home of the Fianna, the soldiers of the ARW’s ‘Special Operations Force Qualification Course Yankee One’ received their much coveted Green Berets. A proud day indeed for the soldiers and their dedicated instructors. We wish them the best of luck in their new role.” (Lee, 2016).

3.5     What is the Pass rate for the SOFQ Course?

“While numbers vary, typically 85% of those that start the A.R.W Selection Course will not to make it to the final day.” (IDF, 2015).

It is estimated that 80-90% will dropout during module 1, with an estimated further 5% failing during modules 2 to 5.

  • In 1989, 10 out of 71 passed the ARW Selection Course, with 8 being accepted by the unit (Bourke, 2010).
  • In October 1999, only 9 of 98 candidates successfully completed the ARW Selection Course (Allen, 2016).

“Although I was 43 at this stage I decided to try for the US special forces, which meant I had to do selection all over again. Out of 300 guys, 110 of us passed selection…” (Bourke, 2010, p.13).

As of 2012, it was reported that since the unit’s inception less than 400 personnel had successfully completed training to become a Ranger out of an estimated 11,000 who had attempted it (Hostile Environment, 2012).

3.6     Further Courses for ARW Members

Further courses that can be completed by ARW members includes:

  • Military free-fall: High altitude high opening (HAHO) and high altitude low opening (HALO) parachuting.
  • Explosive ordnance disposal (EOD).
  • Fast roping and rappelling.
  • Close protection.
  • Combat diver course: military diving using special breathing equipment and training in small boat handling. The Naval Service Diving Team provides specialised training to the ARW in diving and underwater explosives and operations. In turn, ARW operators provide classes to those assigned to boarding parties.
  • Sniper training.
  • Advanced medical skills.
  • Advanced weapon skills.

3.7     What is the Difference between the ‘Patch’ and the ‘Tab’?

Prior to the introduction of the SOFQ Course, the Unit patch (or flash) was for all members of the unit and once they left they had to remove it from their uniform.

For those candidates who passed the ARW Selection Course, they were entitled to wear the Ranger ‘Tab’. However, candidates who successfully completed the Basic Skills Course wore the Green Beret and Tab with red boarder (denoting membership of the ARW).

With the introduction of the SOFQ Course, candidates are awarded the ‘Fianoglach’ tab on successful completion of Module 3 and are assigned to the unit and awarded the distinctive ARW Green Beret on completion of Module 4.

3.8     Enablers and Supporters

“The Rangers are the quarterbacks, but they need medics, bomb disposal and IED experts, IT specialists and not just phenomenal athletes,” said a military source.” (Murtagh, 2016).

ARW Assault Team Operators do not work in isolation, and require the support of a variety of military and civilian personnel to be able to perform their role.

As such, the ARW is supported by Defence Forces assets such as Air Corps aircraft, Naval Service Patrol Vessels, Army transport, and specialised all weather military kit and high tech equipment.

The availability of these assets enables the ARW to train for scenarios based on airborne as well as underwater and surface maritime operations. Training is carried out on gas and oil rigs off Ireland’s Atlantic coast, in remote rural areas and in the urban environment.


4.0     TV Documentaries

  • First aired on Monday 09 January 2012, episode 1 of the TV documentary Hostile Environment, narrated by Liam Cunningham, explored the world of Ex-Army Ranger Wing, now Private Security contractor, Paul Butler.

4.1     Useful Publications

  • Soldiers of the Short Grass: A history of the Curragh Camp by Dan Harvey, published by Merrion Press in 2016.
  • Unbowed: A Soldier’s Journey Back from Paralysis by Billy Hedderman, published by Mercier Press in 2018.

4.2     Useful Links

4.3     References

Allen, J. (2016) About. Available from World Wide Web: [Accessed: 24 October, 2018].

Bennett, R.M. (2011) Elite Forces: The World’s Most Formidable Secret Armies. London: Virgin Books.

Bourke, W. (2009) The ’69 Rangers’. An Cosantóir: The Defence Forces Magazine. 69(6), pp.16-17. Available from World Wide Web: [Accessed: 25 October, 2018].

Bourke, W. (2010) An Cosantóir: The Defence Forces Magazine. 70(30), pp.11-13. Available from World Wide Web: [Accessed: 25 October, 2018].

Brady, T. (2004) Crack Troops Rescue Hostages from Gunmen in Daring Raid. Available from World Wide Web: [Accessed: 25 October, 2018].

Brady, T. (2014) Frontline Forces: Elite Ranger Wing grows in size by One-third. Available from World Wide Web: [Accessed: 24 October, 2018].

Brady, T. (2018) Irish Ranger Wing handed key role in elite EU Battle-group. Available from World Wide Web: [Accessed: 24 October, 2018].

Cusack, S (Ed) (2004) Encyclopedia of Espionage, Intelligence, and Security. Farmington, MI: Thomson-Gale.

Hostile Environment. (2012) Hostile Environment TV Documentary about the Army Ranger Wing published by RTE 1 on Monday 09 January 2012. Available from World Wide Web: [Accessed: 25 October, 2018].

Houses of the Oireachtas. (2017) Dáil Éireann Debate. Available from World Wide Web: [Accessed: 24 October, 2018].

IDF (Irish Defence Forces) (2015) “The cleanliness of our hearts, the strength of our limbs and our commitment to our promise.” Available from World Wide Web: [Accessed: 24 October, 2018].

IDF (Irish Defence Forces) (2016) When political scientist Thomas Hobbes wrote about the State in 1651. Available from World Wide Web: [Accessed: 24 October, 2018].

IDF (Irish Defence Forces) (2018a) Organisation. Available from World Wide Web: [Accessed: 24 October, 2018].

IDF (Irish Defence Forces) (2018b) Defence Forces Training Centre. Available from World Wide Web: [Accessed: 24 October, 2018].

IDF (Irish Defence Forces) (2018c) Roles of the ARW. Available from World Wide Web: [Accessed: 24 October, 2018].

IDF (Irish Defence Forces) (2018d) ARW Selection Course. Available from World Wide Web: [Accessed: 24 October, 2018].

Lavery, M. (2009) Big Guns Turn Up for Elite Unit’s 40th. Available from World Wide Web: [Accessed: 24 October, 2018].

Lee, J. (2016) Army Ranger Wing exercise in the Irish Sea. Available from World Wide Web: [Accessed: 24 October, 2018].

McDonald, H. (2001) Elite Irish Troops on Standby to keep Peace in Afghanistan. Available from World Wide Web: [Accessed: 24 October, 2018].

Montes, J.A. (2013) Small Arms of the Irish Defence Forces. Available from World Wide Web: [Accessed: 24 October, 2018].

Murtagh, P. (2016) Army Ranger Wing to Double in Size due to Terror Threat. Available from World Wide Web: [Accessed: 24 October, 2018].

Murtagh, P. (2017) Army Ranger Wing to get Higher Anti-terrorist Profile. Available from World Wide Web: [Accessed: 24 October, 2018].

O’Regan, M. (2018) How elite Irish soldiers are earning €20k-amonth as Middle East ‘minders’. Available from World Wide Web: [Accessed: 24 October, 2018].

O’Riordan, S. (2017) ‘Ireland More at Risk of IS-Style Attack’. Available from World Wide Web: [Accessed: 24 October, 2018].

O’Toole, M. (2016) State Owes Elite Troops over €3 Million in Backpay. Available from World Wide Web: [Accessed: 24 October, 2018].

Popular Military. (2017) Why you have never heard of Ireland’s elite green beret-wearing warriors. Available from World Wide Web: [Accessed: 24 October, 2018].

Ryan, K. (2018) Watch American Media’s Shocked Reaction to Irish Snipers Making History. Available from World Wide Web: [Accessed: 24 October, 2018].

Thompson, L. (2013) Ireland’s Army Rangers. Available from World Wide Web: [Accessed: 24 October, 2018].