1.0 Introduction

This article provides an overview of the Irish Defence Forces (IDF), the armed forces of the Republic of Ireland.

Competition for recruitment into the IDF, known as Competitions, is very intense. In 2016, 665 recruits were inducted, across the regular and reserve forces, of which 510 were for the Army (DOD, 2016). There were “4,807” officer cadet applications, with a total of 100 inducted, 73 being for the Army (DOD, 2016, p.39).

On 31 December 2016, the regular forces of the IDF had a strength of “9,126” against a planned liability of 9,500 (DOD, 2016, p.38):

  • 7,332 Army personnel (against planned liability of 7,520);
  • 704 Air Corps personnel (against planned liability of 886);
  • 1,090 Naval Service personnel (against planned liability of 1,094).

The reserve forces had a strength of 2,297, of which 280 were women (DOD, 2016):

2.0 What is the Role of the IDF?

The IDF has a variety of roles including:

  • To defend the State against armed aggression; this being a contingency, preparations for its implementation will depend on an ongoing Government assessment of the security and defence environment.
  • To aid the civil power (meaning in practice to assist, when requested, the Garda SÁochána, who have primary responsibility for law and order, including the protection of the internal security of the State).
  • To participate in multinational peace support, crisis management and humanitarian relief operations in support of the United Nations and under UN mandate, including regional security missions authorised by the UN.
  • To provide a fishery protection service in accordance with the State’s obligations as a member of the EU.
  • To carry out other such duties as may be assigned to them from time to time, e.g. search and rescue, air ambulance service, Ministerial air transport service, assistance on the occasion of natural or other disasters, assistance in connection with the maintenance of essential services, assistance in combating oil pollution at sea.

3.0 Hierarchy of the IDF

The IDF sits within the Department of Defence (DOD) led by the Minister with Responsibility for Defence, a civilian, which is co-located with the Defence Headquarters (HQ) in Newbridge. The Secretary-General of the DOD is the senior civil servant.

The professional head of the IDF, an OF-8 level officer, is known as the Chief of Defence of the Irish Defence Forces or Chief of Staff (COS) Defence Forces General Staff.

The COS is assisted by two deputies and one assistant:

  • Deputy Chief of Staff Operations (D COS Ops), an OF-7 level officer, is tasked with operational matters.
  • Deputy Chief of Staff Support (D COS Sp), an OF-7 level officer, is tasked with military support matters.
  • Assistant Chief of Staff Support (ACOS Sp), OF-6 level officer, is tasked with military support matters.

4.0 Organisation of the IDF

The IDF, which can trace its roots to 1913, is a volunteer force and is composed of:

  • Permanent Defence Force (PDF) which is a standing force that provides the primary capabilities for joint military operations at home and combined military Peace Support Operations abroad. The PDF consists of the:
    • Army;
    • Air Corps; and
    • Naval Service.
  • Reserve Defence Force (RDF) provides the necessary contingent conventional military capability to augment and assist the PDF, when necessary. The RDF consists of the:
    • First Line Reserve (FLR) composed of former PDF personnel;
    • Army Reserve (AR); and
    • Naval Service Reserve (NSR).

From an administrative and operational perspective the country is divided into three areas, each containing an Infantry Brigade. Each brigade is supported by the naval service and air corps.

  • 1 Brigade:
    • Responsible for the Southern region of the country.
    • Led by the General Officer Commanding (GOC), a Brigadier General (OF-6).
    • HQ is located at Collins Barracks, Cork.
  • 2 Brigade:
    • Responsible for the Northern region of the country.
    • Led by the GOC, a Brigadier General.
    • HQ is located at Cathal Brugha Barracks in Rathmines, Dublin.
  • Defence Forces Training Centre (DFTC):
    • Responsible for training, education and logistical units.
    • Led by the GOC, a Brigadier General.
    • HQ located in Curragh Camp, County Kildare.
  • Air Corps:
    • The Air Corps is the air component of the PDF.
    • Led by the GOC, a Brigadier General.
    • HQ located at Casement Aerodrome in Baldonnel, Dublin.
  • Flag Officer Commanding the Naval Service:
    • The Naval Service is the naval component of the PDF.
    • Led by the Flag Officer Commanding the Naval Service, a Commodore (OF-6).
    • HQ located at Haulbowline in Cobh, Cork.

5.0 Useful Links

6.0 References