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Who are The Irish Army Ranger Wing Special Forces?

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Irish Army Ranger


The Irish Army Ranger Wing

In Ireland, the Special Forces of their armed services are called " The Army Ranger Wing" which in Gaelic is "Sciathan Fiannoglaigh an Airm" and abbreviated as "S.F.A.". They accept military personal from their Army, Navy, and Air Corps. They do work both in Ireland and overseas while reporting to the Chief of Staff. After being founded in 1980, their predominant function was to counter terrorism before they developed into also doing special operations. This change came about in 2000 after a cease of conflict in Northern Ireland. They train with Special Forces from around the world and have been involved in many peace keeping missions in Somalia, Liberia, Mali, East Timor, and Chad. Also, they train and deploy with national police of Ireland or the Garda Siochana (Gaelic) Specialist Armed Intervention Unit, or the Emergency Response Unit. The roles of the Armed Ranger Wing are divided into the green role which is wartime special operations and the black role which is anti-terrorism.

Green Role or Wartime Special Operations vs. Black Role or Counter Terrorism Duties

Green RoleBlack Role

procurring vital objectives

hotstage rescue operations


interventions that are either airborne or seaborne


anti-hijack operations


special search operations on land or on sea

capture of key personnel

operations of pursuit

gathering of intelligence

retaking of terrorist- held objectives

diversionary operations

security operations of U.I.P.

long-range recconnaisance patrol

planning against terror or subversive threats

delay operations


V.I.P. protection


training and conduct of special operations


counter insurgency


The History Behind the Irish Army Ranger Wing

The formation of this militant group started in the 1960's when the Defense Forces founded Special Assault Groups (S.A.P.) in the army in response to challenges in security along the border of Northern Ireland. Some officers in the Irish Army attended the United States Ranger School in Fort Benning, Georgia. These people came back to Ireland and began to conduct Army Ranger courses in Ireland in 1969. Of these founding officers was the present day Chief of Staff, Lieutenant General Dermot Early. The formation of the Special Assault Groups started with forty rangers who were trained in all arms, engineering, and ordnance techniques. The number of rangers in the Defense Forces grew to over 300 by the middle of the 1970's. The courses that people who were selected from the Army, Navy, or Air Corps took were in improved marksmanship, individual skills, small unit tactics, and physical endurance. By December of 1977, there was a counter terrorist unit called "The Special Task Force" that was formed. This Unit became known as the, "Emergency Response Unit". In 1978, after the Munich Massacre that happened in Germany in 1972 and a series of hostage takings by the Provisional Irish Republican Army, the Rangers went through an assessment of the S.A.G. and received training by the M-Squadron which is an elite counter terrorism branch of the Royal Netherlands Marine Corps before forming a new Special Forces unit that countered terrorism both nationally and internationally.


It was on March 16, 1980 that formally the Army Ranger Wing (A.R.W.) was established. In the year 1981, they received their official colors: Black, Red, and Gold which signified Secrecy, Risk, and Excellence. They were given permission to wear the Green Beret in 1991.


Name and Motto

The name "Sciathan Fiannoglaigh an Airm is Gaelic and in English means "Army Ranger Wing". "Fiann" means warrior and is used in reference to a group of warriors in Irish mythology that were called "Na Fianna". The rest of the word, "oglaih" means young soldiers and is commonly translated as "volunteers". This is the reason the Defense Forces are sometimes referred to as "Oglaigh na h Eireann" or Irish Volunteers.

Motto of Irish Army Ranger Wing

The Purity of our Hearts, the Strength of limbs, and our Commitment to our Promise.-derived from an old Fionna poem


Countering Terrorism and Hostage Rescue in Liberia

Due to the war in Northern Ireland which became known as "The Troubles" from the late 1960's to the late 1990's, before the year of 2000, approximately 85 % of Ranger training was dedicated to counter terrorism. Hostage rescue was considered to be a part of countering terrorism. One of the notable missions they did is when after the Second Liberian Civil War, they were deployed to Liberia as peacekeeping forces. When civilians were captured by the renegade Liberian Forces, a team of 20 Rangers was taken by helicopter and dropped in the town of Gbapa. They wanted to avoid casualties of the hostages, so they implemented a policy of intervention that was less lethal and surrounded a forty foot container holding 35 hostages. They then rescued the civilians and caught the rebel forces and their commander. There were no Irish casualties in this operation and it drew praise from the international community.


In conclusion, the Special Forces of Ireland known as the Army Ranger Wing have been trained for decades in counter terrorism both nationally and internationally and are a part of the European Union's defense against global terrorism. With an eighty five percent drop out rate for the first couple of weeks of training in this area of the Irish military, they only keep the better soldiers and train them to be a very fierce group of warriors. It can easily be said these are elite soldiers. The Irish Army Ranger Wing will continue to fight terrorism nationally and internationally in the years to come.


MG Singh emge from Singapore on March 08, 2021:

I don't know much about the Irish military. This was very interesting information.

Ezria Copper (author) on March 07, 2021:

I am glad that you liked it.

Louise Powles from Norfolk, England on March 07, 2021:

I've never heard of these before, so it was very interesting to read. Thankyou!

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