The defense (2007) comprises about 10,500 men enlisted. The reserves amount to about 15,000 people. The army, 8,500 men, is organized into three brigades. The fleet disposes of eight combat ships and the Air Force 15 armed helicopters.
Ireland contributes to UN peacekeeping operations in 14 countries with observers and in Serbia with a company (KFOR). Ireland is alliance-free. Defense costs decreased in 1985-2007 from 1.8% to 0.4% of GDP. To see related acronyms about this country, please check ABBREVIATIONFINDER where you can see that IRL stands for Ireland.
Ireland has no military service; all military personnel are permanently employed or recruited for at least three years at a time. Ireland has been a member of the NATO Partnership for Peace since 1999. The combined force figures for Ireland’s armed forces are 9350 active personnel, with a reserve of 4050 personnel (2018, IISS).
The forces are easily equipped, and Ireland does not have fighter jets. NATO provides combat aircraft and personnel.
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The army has a workforce of 7500 active personnel. Heavy equipment includes six light trucks and 101 armored personnel vehicles. The air component has a personnel force of 880, two maritime patrol aircraft, five light transport aircraft, eight training aircraft and eight helicopters. The sea component has a personnel force of 1100, eight patrol vessels and two auxiliary vessels.
Ireland participated in 2018 with UN peacekeeping forces in Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) with four personnel, in Lebanon (UNIFIL) with 353 personnel, in the Middle East (UNTSO) with 13 observers, in Syria/Israel (UNDOF) with 126 personnel and in Western Sahara (MINURSO) with three observers.
In addition, Ireland participated, among others, in the NATO operation in Serbia (KFOR) with 12 personnel. In 1988, the two governments clashed after London refused to investigate members of the Northern Irish Police, the RUC, accused of shooting at suspected terrorists, without making any attempts to arrest them. In return, investigations against the Ulster Defense Regiment (UDR) initiated the deaths of 6 IRA members in 1982.
In the first months of 1989, violence broke out again. In April, three members of the Ulster Defense Association (UDA) were detained in Paris along with a South African diplomat. It was suspected that South Africa provided them with weapons to receive secret missile technology that the UDA had stolen from a British factory in Belfast.
In September 1989, the Irish government demanded a full investigation of the UDR – the main Protestant volunteer force among the security forces in the north. Its purpose was to uncover its contacts with paramilitary Protestants and, in particular, its transfer of secret intelligence documents. Britain agreed to the request, and the following month 94 UDR soldiers were arrested.
In April 1991, in Belfast, multi-party negotiations began in a new attempt to solve Northern Ireland’s political problems. These were the first lengthy negotiations since 1974. The participants were the political parties of the area – the Protestant Unionists, the Catholic Nationalists and the Alliance Party – and the government in London. Sinn Fein who is the provisional IRA’s political branch was specifically excluded from the negotiations. The reason for this was that the party refused to condemn the violent actions of the IRA, and in return demanded immediate withdrawal of all British troops, disarmament of the RUC and full reunification between Ireland and Northern Ireland.
Opinion polls published in London at the start of negotiations revealed that a majority of the British were prepared for British forces to be withdrawn from Ulster. At the same time, the IRA launched one of its largest military offensives – both in Northern Ireland and the United Kingdom. In early 1992, Republican supporters of independence conducted a series of fire attacks on industrial and commercial companies.
From the end of 1991, an escalation of the attacks on Catholics by the Protestant paramilitary groups was also recorded. These groups declared that they would implement an “eye for eye, tooth for tooth” policy against the IRA’s actions.
In response to requests from Protestant politicians and the rising violence, London sent hundreds of fresh troops as reinforcements to Northern Ireland. They joined the 11,000 British troops already stationed in the area, the 6,000 RUC volunteers and the 12,000 police officers.