Army Ranger Wing - Ireland's Special Forces Unit Turns 30


Verified Military
Verified Military
Oct 24, 2006
Congrats Lads..

The formation of the ARW came about as a result of a dramatic increase in International Terrorism during the 1970s. 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. Conventional military and police tactics were deemed unsuitable for dealing with the escalating threat, and many countries moved to establish special units to deal with so-called
'special situations.' Ireland was not immune to such threats, and hence the ARW was formally established on the 16th of March 1980.

Much of the unit's initial training focussed specifically on developing the capability to act directly against terrorist threats and to respond to hijackings and siege situations.Specialist skills and techniques were developed, including rapid insertion methods, building assault and advanced weapon skills.The unit has evolved considerably since its inception 30 years agohowever.The ARW's capabilities now include the full spectrum of Special Forces functions on land, at sea and in the air. The roles of the unit are divided into a Conventional Warfare role (Green role) and a Specialist 'Aid to the Civil Power' role (Black role).

In the 'Green Role,' the ARW trains for conventional tasks such as Long Range Patrolling, manning Covert Observation Posts, Special Reconnaissance, Ambush patrols and ‘Direct Action’ missions. A ‘Direct Action’ normally involves a deliberate, well-planned attack on a pre-designated target, such as a military or terrorist base, an individual, a vital installation such as a communications facility, or equipment of significant military value. The skills needed to carry out these tasks include specialised high altitude parachuting, combat diving, boat handling, specialist reconnaissance, explosives, sniping and advanced communications skills.

The 'Black Role' or anti-terrorist function of the ARW is primarily concerned with the skills required to resolve siege and hijack situations.These includes techniques to rapidly gain access into vital installations, buildings, aircraft, etc. to neutralise threats, secure hostages and evacuate casualties. In order to prepare for this role, ARW teams undergo rigorous training in advanced urban combat, demolitions, specialist combat shooting, sniping, VIP protection, surveillance and advanced medical skills.The ARW has served with distinction overseas, both as an Initial Entry Force (IEF) tasked with preparing the way for larger Defence Forces deployments, and as a Special Operations Task Group (SOTG) charged with conducting Special Operations in the mission area. Such deployments have taken the unit from the Jungles of East Timor in 1999 to the plantations of Liberia in 2003, and more recently the deserts of Chad in 2008.

Although the capabilities and equipment of the ARW have evolved during their 30-year existence, one aspect of the unit has remained constant; that is the maintenance of the exceptionally high standards which the original Rangers established. Only the most determined, physically able and mentally robust candidates will successfully complete the grueling three-week selection course in order to be accepted for further training with the Special Forces.The course is designed to test the individual’s physical ability, determination and capacity to think and perform decisively under pressure. A mere 15% of each cohort will pass selection, at the end of which a further probationary period of 6 months awaits. Only on successful completion of probation will a Ranger be awarded the coveted Green Beret, which sets the unit apart from the wider Defence Forces.

Information on the numerical strength of the Army Ranger Wing and the identity of its personnel is restricted. Members are obliged to reside within a defined radius of the Curragh Camp, where the unit remains at a high state of readiness for deployment within the State or overseas, in response to a crisis.

Members of the ARW undertake extensive training abroad with other Special Forces in order to ensure that the unit maintains the highest possible international standards. Such cross training, in addition to their performance on operational deployments overseas, have earned the unit the respect and admiration of the wider international Special Forces community.

During their 30-year existence, the ARW has made a substantial contribution to the Defence Forces and to the State. 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 very forefront of Ireland's military capability.