Elite Army Ranger Wing personnel pose for picture with Defence Minister
The Irish Defence Forces made efforts to protect the identities of its elite counter-terrorism unit during a visit to the Curragh Camp by Defence Minister Paul Keogh.
Usually, official visits like these are marked with group photos of regular members of the Defence Forces smiling cheerfully at the camera.
However, an unusual photograph was taken yesterday featuring the Minister and 13 members of the Army Ranger Wing (ARW).
What was notably different was that the entire unit's faces were blurred out to protect their identities.
The ARW functions as the elite special operations unit of the Defence Forces with personnel drawn from the Army, Naval Service and Air Corps.
Its training is so demanding that qualified ARW personnel rank alongside the UK's SAS, Germany's GSG9 and France's GIGN as among the most elite counter-terrorism forces in the world.
The unit, founded in 1980 and based at the Curragh Camp in Kildare, is highly secretive of both its training methods and force size.
It is understood to have a total unit strength of about 150 and can undertake operations by land, sea and air.
On his arrival at the Camp the Minister was greeted by the Chief of Staff, Vice Admiral Mark Mellett and the Deputy Chief of Staff (Operations), Major General Kieran Brennan. The Minister also met with members of the Army Ranger Wing (ARW).
The Minister used the opportunity of the visit to receive a briefing from the Officer in Charge of the ARW on the roles, capabilities and operational effectiveness of the Unit.
He was also afforded the chance to view ARW operatives preparing for a mission, to examine the wide range of equipment available to execute such a mission, and to witness a demonstration of the particular skills of the Unit in responding to a simulated domestic terrorism incident and a hostage rescue incident.
The Minister went on to say: “I am satisfied that on-going coordination and liaison meetings take place between the Defence Forces and An Garda Síochána to ensure that the security of the State is given top priority.
In recognising the dynamic nature of the security environment, initiatives to enhance and support interoperability include the development of agreed protocols, joint seminars on response to a terrorist attack and exercises on crisis management."