The Irish Army (Irish: Arm na hÉireann) is the main branch of the Irish Defence Forces (Irish: Óglaigh na hÉireann).
From February 1922, the Provisional Government of the Irish Free State began recruiting its own armed forces, which it referred to as the National Army. Due to the outbreak of the Irish Civil War, in mid 1922, this force had to be rapidly expanded without formal legislation. The Irish Defence Forces were legally established, in the aftermath of the Civil War, on 1 October 1924.
At this time the Army was the only branch of this new force - as the Air Corps was still an Army Corps and the Naval Service was not formed until 1946.
Roles of the Irish Army:
The roles of the Irish Army are:
To defend the State against armed aggression.
To give aid to the civil power (ATCP). This means that the Irish Army assist, when requested, the Garda Síochána, who have primary responsibility for law and order in Ireland.
To participate in multinational peace support, crisis management and humanitarian relief operations in support of the United Nations Peace Keeping Missions, and EUFOR (UN sanctions Peace keeping Missions only).
To carry out other duties which may be assigned to them from time to time. For example, assistance on the occasion of natural disasters, assistance in connection with the maintenance of essential services, etc.
Beginning of the Irish Army:
The Defence Forces, including the Army, trace their origins to the Irish Volunteers founded in 1913. The Volunteers later became known as the Irish Republican Army (IRA), the guerilla organisation that fought the Irish War of Independence. In February 1922, the Provisional Government began to recruit volunteers into the new "National Army".
The Provisional Government was set up on 16 January 1922 to transfer power from the British regime to the Irish Free State. On 31 January 1922, the first unit of the new Irish National Army, a former IRA unit the Dublin Guard took over Beggars Bush Barracks - the first British barracks to be handed to the new Irish Free State. Michael Collins envisaged the new Army being built around the IRA but over half of this organisation rejected the compromise of the Treaty in favour of upholding the revolutionary Irish Republic of 1919-1921.
So from January 1922 until late June and the outbreak of the Irish Civil War, there existed two antagonistic armed forces - the National Army, built from a nucleus of Pro-Treaty IRA units - armed and paid by the Provisional Government, and the Anti-Treaty IRA, who refused to accept the legitimacy of the new state.
The Irish title Óglaigh na hÉireann, that had previously been used by both the Irish Volunteers and the IRA, is also the official title of the Irish Defence Forces.
Civil War period:
The Irish Civil War broke out on June 28, 1922. The Pro-Treaty Sinn Féin party, in power in the Provisional Government, had won an election, legitimising its existence, in June. The British were applying increasing pressure on the Government to assert its control over the Anti-Treaty IRA who had occupied the Four Courts in Dublin and this garrison had kidnapped JJ O'Connell, a General in the National Army.
In the early weeks of the Irish Civil War, the newly formed National Army, was mainly composed of pro-Treaty IRA units, especially the "Dublin Guard", whose members had personal ties to Michael Collins.
Its size was estimated at about 7,000 men. However, the Free State soon recruited far more troops, the army's size mushrooming to 55,000 men and 3,500 officers by the end of the Civil War in May 1923. Many of its recruits were war-hardened Irishmen who had served in the British Army during the First World War. W.R.E. Murphy, a second in command of the Army in the civil war (from January-May 1923) had been a Lieutenant Colonel in the British Army, as had Emmet Dalton. Indeed, the Free State recruited experienced soldiers from wherever it could. Two more of its senior generals in the Civil War had served in the United States Army - John T. Prout and J.J. "Ginger" O'Connell.
The British government supplied the new army with uniforms, small arms, ammunition, artillery and armoured units, which enabled it to bring the Civil War to a relatively speedy conclusion. Dublin was taken from Anti Treaty IRA units (or "Irregulars") after a week and a half of street fighting in July 1922. The Anti-Treaty IRA were also dislodged from Limerick and Waterford in that month and Cork and county Kerry were secured after seaborne landings in August.
The remainder of the war was a counter-insurgency campaign against Anti-Treaty guerrillas - concentrated particularly in the south and west. National Army units, especially the Dublin Guard, were implicated in a series of multiple atrocities against captured Anti-Treaty fighters. The National Army suffered about 800 fatalities in the Civil War, including its commander in chief, Michael Collins. Collins was succeeded by Richard Mulcahy.
In April 1923, the Anti-Treaty IRA called a ceasefire and ordered their fighters to "dump arms" in May - effectively ending the war.
After the Civil War:
Following the Irish Civil War, the National Army had grown too big for a peacetime role and was too expensive for the new Irish state to maintain. In addition, many of the civil war recruits were badly trained and undisciplined -making them unsuitable material for a full time professional army.
Richard Mulcahy, the new Irish Defence Minister, had to reduce the army to about 20,000 men in the immediate post Civil War period. This nearly provoked a mutiny among National Army officers in 1923-24, particularly among former IRA officers, who perceived that former British Army officers were treated better than them.
The Establishment of The Defence Forces:
On 3 August 1923, the new State passed the Defence Forces (Temporary Provisions) Act, putting the existing armed forced on a legal footing. This Act formally raised "an armed force to be called Óglaigh na hÉireann (hereinafter referred to as the Forces) consisting of such number of officers, non-commissioned officers, and men as may from time to time be provided by the Oireachtas." The date of the establishment of the Forces was 1 October 1924.
The Army had a new establishment, organisation, rank markings, head dress and orders of dress. The National Army's Air Service became the Air Corps and remained part of the Army unit the 1990s. An all Irish language speaking unit was created - An Chéad Chathlán Coisithe (English: The First Infantry Battalion) was established in Galway, and functioned exclusively through the medium of the state's first official language.
The Emergency Period:
Ireland remained neutral for the Second World War, which was referred to as "The Emergency" by the Irish government.
However despite the Irish neutral stance the Irish Army was greatly expanded during the war. In fact the Irish Army grew from about 10,000 men up to about 40,000 by the end of the war (with more recruited to reserve forces). By early 1941, this comprised an all-volunteer force of two infantry divisions and two independent brigade, as well as coastal artillery and garrison units. This expansion was enforced in order to ward off potential invasions from either the Allied or Axis powers (Both of whom had actually drawn up contingency plans to invade Ireland).
In 1939, the remnants of the IRA stole a large quantity of the Irish Army's reserve ammunition from its dump at the Magazine Fort in Dublin's Phoenix Park. While this was seen as an embarrassment for the Irish Army, most of it was recovered.
Moreover, as the War went on, more and newer equipment was purchased from Britain and the United States. For the duration of the war, Ireland, while formally neutral, tacitly supported the Allies in several ways. German military personnel were interned in the Curragh along with the belligerent powers' servicemen, whereas Allied airmen and sailors who crashed in Ireland were very often repatriated, usually by secretly moving them across the border to Northern Ireland.
G2, the Irish Army's intelligence section, played a vital role in the detection and arrest of German spies, such as Hermann Görtz. From 1942 G2 was headed by Colonel Dan Bryan.
Since joining the United Nations in 1955, the Irish Army has been deployed on many peacekeeping missions. The first of these missions took place in 1958, when a small number of observers were sent to Lebanon. A total of 86 Irish soldiers have died in the service of the United Nations since 1960.
The first major overseas deployment came in 1960, when Irish troops were sent to the Congo as part of the UN force ONUC. The Belgian Congo became an independent Republic on 30 June 1960. Twelve days later, the Congolese government requested military assistance from the United Nations to maintain its territorial integrity. On the 28th July 1960 Lt-Col Murt Buckley led the 32nd Irish Battalion to the newly independent central African country. This was the most costly enterprise for the Irish Army since the Irish Civil War, as 26 Irish soldiers lost their lives. Nine died in a single incident called the "Niemba Ambush", in which a small party of soldiers was almost totally wiped out. A "Niemba Ambush commemoration" is hosted annually by the Irish Veterans Organisation (ONET) in Cathal Brugha Barracks, on the nearest Saturday to the actual date of the ambush. One of the largest ONUC engagements in which Irish troops were involved, was the Siege of Jadotville. During this action, a small party of 150 Irish soldiers was attacked by a larger force of almost 4,000 Katangese troops, as well as French, Belgian and Rhodesian mercenaries, and supported by a trainer jet. The Irish soldiers repeatedly repelled the attackers, and knocked-out enemy artillery and mortar positions using 60mm mortars. An attempt was made by 500 Irish and Swedish soldiers to break through to the besieged company, but it failed. The Irish commander eventually surrendered his forces. 5 to 7 Irish soldiers were wounded, but none were killed. It is estimated that up to 300 of their attackers were killed, including 30 white mercenaries, and up to 1,000 wounded. A total of 6,000 Irishmen served in the Congo from 1960 until 1964.
Cyprus and the Sinai:
Starting in 1964, Irish troops have served as UN peacekeepers in Cyprus (UNFICYP). Over 9,000 Irish personnel have served there to date, without suffering casualties.
In 1973, an infantry group and some logistical troops were pulled out of Cyprus at short notice to serve in the Sinai desert between Egypt and Israel as part of the UN force that supervised the ceasefire that ended the Yom Kippur War.
From 1976 to 1981, UNFICYP was commanded by an Irish officer, Major-General James Quinn.
From 1978 to 2001, a battalion of Irish troops was deployed in southern Lebanon, as part of the UN mandate force UNIFIL. The Irish battalion consisted of 580 personnel which were rotated every six months, plus almost 100 others in UNIFIL headquarters and the Force Mobile Reserve. In all, 30,000 Irish soldiers served in Lebanon over 23 years.
The Irish troops in Lebanon were initially intended to supervise the withdrawal of the Israel Defense Forces from the area after an invasion in 1978 and to prevent fighting between the Palestine Liberation Organization forces and Israel. Another Israeli invasion in 1982 forced the PLO out of southern Lebanon, and occupied the area. The following 18 years, up until 2000 saw prolonged guerrilla warfare between Israeli forces, their allies in the South Lebanon Army and Hezbollah. UNIFIL was caught in the middle of this conflict. The Irish battalion's role consisted of manning checkpoints and observations posts and mounting patrols. A total of 47 soldiers were killed and more wounded during the conflict. In addition to peacekeeping, the Irish also provided humanitarian aid to the local population - for example aiding the orphanage at Tibnin. From 25 April 1995 to 9 May 1996, Brigadier General P. Redmond served as Deputy Force Commander of UNIFIL - a period that coincided with the Israeli Operation Grapes of Wrath offensive in 1996.
Most Irish forces were withdrawn from the area in 2001, following the Israeli evacuation of their forces the previous year. However 11 Irish troops remained there as observers. They were present during the 2006 Lebanon War. After this conflict, UNIFIL was reinforced and a mechanised infantry company of 165 Irish troops was deployed to southern Lebanon. Their role there was to provide perimeter protection for a Finnish Army engineering unit. After 12 months, the 1st Finnish/Irish Battalion ceased operations and was stood down from duty after having completed its mandate with UNIFIL. A small number of Irish personnel remain in service at UNIFIL HQ in Southern Lebanon.
Iran and Iraq:
From August 1988 until May 1991, Irish soldiers were deployed, under the UN force UNIIMOG, on the border between Iraq and Iran to supervise the withdrawal of both side's troops back to within their respective borders after the end of the Iran-Iraq War. The Irish provided 177 of the 400 UNIIMOG personnel involved with the mission. The mission came to an end in 1991, when Iran and Iraq completed the withdrawal of their troops. A small number of Irish observers were also stationed in Kuwait since from 1991 to 2002 as part of UNIKOM.
Somalia and Eritrea:
In 1993, 100 troops forming a transport company were deployed in Somalia, as part of UNOSOM II peace-enforcing mission. In December 2001, 221 Irish soldiers were also sent to Eritrea as part of UNMEE, and were tasked with the defence of the UN headquarters there.
Bosnia and Kosovo:
In 1997 a military police unit and some other troops were deployed to Bosnia as part of SFOR (1995-2005) and EUFOR (December 2005 to present). The MP company was based in SFOR HQ in Sarajevo and policed the 8,000 SFOR troops based in the area. From 1999 until 2010, a Company of Irish troops were stationed in Kosovo as part of KFOR.
In 1999, Irish Officers were sent to East Timor as part of the UNAMET observer group (Timorese Independence Refurendum). Later in the year, a platoon of Rangers (1 Ircon) were sent as part of the INTERFET peacekeeping force. The Irish Army Rangers (the Army's special forces unit) were deployed in East Timor alongside the Australian SASR for a 4 month tour. This marked the second time that the Irish Army's elite force were officially deployed operationally outside of the state, the first being to Somalia in 1993. INTERFET handed over to UNTAET during 2 Ircon's tour in 2000. The third contingent to Timor (3 Ircon) marked a new departure for the Defence Forces, as all the infantry sections were drawn from the 2nd Infantry Battalion. Late 2000 saw the 12th Infantry supply 4 Ircon. Nine contingents in total were deployed including the 4 Infantry Battalion, 5 Infantry Battalion, 28 Infantry Battalion, 1 Cathlan Coisithe, and finally the 6 Infantry Battalion under UNMISET.
After November 2003, Irish troops were stationed in Liberia as part of UNMIL. The Liberian mission was the largest Irish overseas deployment since Lebanon and consisted of a single composite battalion. The UN force, UNMIL, was 15,000 strong and was charged with stabilising the country after the Liberian Civil War. The Irish troops were based in Camp Clara, near Monrovia and were tasked with acting as the Force Commander's "Quick Reaction Force" (QRF) in the Monrovia area. This meant the securing of key locations, conducting searches for illegally held weapons, patrolling and manning checkpoints on the main roads and providing security to civilians under threat of violence. The Irish deployment to Liberia was due to end in November 2006. However, at that time the deployment was extended for a further 6 months to May 2007. During the UNMIL deployment, a detachment of Irish Army Rangers successfully rescued a group of civilians being held hostage by renegade Liberian gunmen. Acting on intelligence, twenty heavily armed Rangers were dropped by helicopter, rescuing the hostages and capturing the rebel leader. In all the following battalions were involved in 2,745 cumulative missions under UNMIL:
90th Infantry Battalion (4 Western Brigade) - Nov 2003-May 2004
91st Infantry Battalion (2 Eastern Brigade) - May 2004-Nov 2004
92nd Infantry Battalion (1 Southern Brigade) - Nov 2004-May 2005
93rd Infantry Battalion (4 Western Brigade) - May 2005-Nov 2005
94th Infantry Battalion (2 Eastern Brigade) - Nov 2005-May 2006
95th Infantry Battalion (1 Southern Brigade) - May 2006-Nov 2006
96th Infantry Battalion (4 Western Brigade) - Nov 2006-May 2007
In August 2007, the Irish government announced that 200 Irish soldiers would be sent to support the United Nations effort as part of EUFOR Chad/CAR. As of 2008 500 troops had been deployed - 54 of whom were Irish Army Rangers. In announcing the mission, the Minister for Defence recognised the regional nature of the crisis, involving instability in Darfur, Chad and the Central African Republic. In accordance with their terms of reference, the deployment of Irish forces was confined to Chad. Ireland contributed the second largest contingent of soldiers to EUFOR Chad/CAR, after France, as part of the mission to establish peace in Chad and to protect refugees from neighbouring Darfur. The Irish soldiers conducted operations concerned with the delivery of humanitarian aid, protection of civilians, and ensuring the safety of UN personnel. There were a number of deployments to the mission, rotating every four months, with the final contingent completing their tour in May 2010:
97th Infantry Battalion - June 2008-Oct 2008
98th Infantry Battalion - Oct 2008-Jan 2009
99th Infantry Battalion - Jan 2009-May 2009
100th Infantry Battalion - May 2009-Oct 2009
101st Infantry Battalion - Oct 2009-Jan 2010
102nd Infantry Battalion - Jan 2010-May 2010
Border duties and aid to the civil power (1969-1998):
At home, the Army has been occasionally deployed to aid the Gardaí (Irish Police) along the border with Northern Ireland during the conflict there known as the Troubles (1969-1998). In the early 1970s, it was suggested that the Irish Army might cross the Border to protect the nationalist community within Northern Ireland. However this was never acted upon, although units were moved to the Border in 1969-70, during the Battle of the Bogside, in order to provide medical support to those wounded in the battle.
One Irish soldier was killed in the Troubles. This happened on December 16, 1983, when the PIRA kidnapped a supermarket executive named Don Tidey. He was traced to Ballinamore in County Leitrim and in the subsequent shootout, a trainee Garda and an Irish Army soldier were killed. Recently, the Army has been used to back up the Gardaí in arresting and seizing the assets of smugglers along the border, many of whom have links with Republican paramilitaries.
The Army provides 24 hour armed security at the maximum security Portlaoise Prison and also armed escort for the Prison Service transporting Irelands most dangerous criminals.
A by-product of the Troubles has been the assignment of Irish soldiers to so called "cash in transit" patrols. Large shipments of cash within the Republic are provided with armed military escorts. The purpose is not a police function per se e.g. to prevent theft by criminal elements but is specifically to pre-empt paramilitaries from obtaining funds for more weapons.
Irish Army personnel are currently serving in Kosovo (KFOR & UNMIK), Bosnia Herzegovina (EUFOR BiH), Western Sahara (MINURSO), Congo (MONUC), Afghanistan (ISAF), Chad (MINURCAT), Côte d'Ivoire (UNOCI), Lebanon (UNIFIL) and the Middle East (UNTSO).
The largest deployments include:
Bosnia (EUFOR Althea) - MNTF (Finland)
Middle East (Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Israel) (UNIFIL) Staff Officers, peace-keeping mission
All enlisted members of the Permanent Defence Forces (PDF) undergo 16 weeks recruit training, after which they become a 2 Star Private. They then undergo a further 12 weeks of advanced training, after which they pass-out as a 3 Star Private, Trooper or Gunner depending on their respective Corps. During this 28 weeks of training they are required to live in barracks. The Army recruits both men and women - female recruits receive the same training alongside their male counterparts.
Recruit training includes foot drill, arms drill, field-craft, medical, radio operation, rifle marksmanship, unarmed combat, tactical and daily physical training (PT) etc. During this stage of training they are also given weapons training on the Steyr Rifle, General Purpose Machine Gun and grenade.
On completion of recruit training, soldiers become 2 Star Privates and begin 3 Star training. This includes more advanced training of everything covered by recruit training plus riot training, navigation, CBRN, helicopter drills, survival, live fire tactical training, etc. They are also receive further weapons training on the M203 Grenade Launcher and Short Range Anti-Armour Weapon.
Throughout their service, soldiers must complete courses to advance their skills and for promotion.
The Army of Ireland has an establishment of 8,500 personnel and consists of a single division sized element made up of three infantry brigades, each responsible for a geographical area of the country:
1 Southern Brigade
HQ 1 Southern Brigade
3 Infantry Battalion
4 Infantry Battalion
12 Infantry Battalion
1 Field Artillery Regiment
1 Cavalry Squadron
1 Field Engineer Company
1 Field CIS Company
1 Brigade Military Police Company
1 Logistics Support Battalion
1 Brigade Training Centre
2 Eastern Brigade
HQ 2 Eastern Brigade
2 Infantry Battalion
5 Infantry Battalion
27 Infantry Battalion
2 Field Artillery Regiment
2 Cavalry Squadron
2 Field Engineer Company
2 Field CIS Company
2 Brigade MP Company
2 Logistics Support Battalion
2 Brigade Training Centre
4 Western Brigade
HQ 4 Western Brigade
1 Infantry Battalion
6 Infantry Battalion
28 Infantry Battalion
4 Field Artillery Regiment
4 Cavalry Squadron
4 Field Engineer Company
4 Field CIS Company
4 Brigade MP Company
4 Logistics Support Battalion
4 Brigade Training Centre
Defence Forces Training Centre:
In addition to the three brigades in the Irish Army, there is also the Defence Forces Training Centre (DFTC). This element is responsible for providing professional training to the Irish Army through three separate colleges:
Combat Support College (Cavalry/Engineering/Signal Schools)
Combat Service Support College (Transport/Ordnance/Military Police/Medical/Admin/Catering (in Dublin) & Physical Fitness Schools)
There are also several units located at the DFTC that are not part of the brigade structure:
Army Ranger Wing (Sciathán Fianóglach an Airm)
1 Air Defence Regiment (AD)
1 Armoured Cavalry Squadron
B Company, 3 Infantry Battalion
Supply and Services Unit
Defence Force Logistics Base
DFTC Military Police Company
The operational units fall under the direct command of the Defence Force HQ, and may be deployed either in support of brigade units or separately on any operation.
The Infantry corps represent the largest component and are the operational troops of the Irish Army. They must be prepared for tactical deployment in any location at short notice. In wartime this means that they will be among the front line troops in the defence of the State. In peacetime they can be seen daily performing operational duties in Aid to the Civil Power such as providing escorts to cash, prisoner or explosive shipments, patrols of vital state installations and border patrols, including check points.
The Artillery Corps provides fire support as required by infantry or armoured elements. The Corps was founded in 1924 and today consists of two main branches: Field Artillery and Air Defence. Between them, the two branches of the Corps provide several vital services;
Fire support of Infantry or Armoured troops.
Ground to low level air defence.
Light field battery support to Irish overseas battalion.
Aid to the civil power duties.
Each brigade has a single regular field artillery regiment, supported by a reserve field artillery regiment, while the army's permanent air defence regiment is based at the Defence Force Training Centre, with reserve batteries stationed around the country.
The Cavalry Corps (In Irish an Cor Marcra) is the army's armoured formation.
The Engineer Corps (or An Cór Innealtoiri in Irish) is the combat engineering unit of the Irish Defence Forces. The Engineer Corps is responsible for all military engineering matters within the Defence Forces. Engineering originated as a military function, and in today's army an Engineer has a most demanding role.
The responsibility for the procurement and maintenance of all ordnance equipment is vested in the Ordnance Corps and encompasses a spectrum of equipment ranging from anti-aircraft missiles and naval armament to the uniforms worn by military personnel. The corps is also responsible for the procurement of food and provision of commercial catering services. These tasks are of a technical nature and the corps personnel are appropriately qualified and with the expertise to afford technical evaluation of complete weapon systems, it also includes embracing weapons, ammunition, fire control instruments and night vision equipment. The Ordnance Corps provide the only Explosive Ordnance Disposal service within the state, in support of the Garda Siochana. The Corps must keep abreast of current developments in international terrorist devices and the equipment needed to counteract these devices. Courses are conducted for its own personnel and for students from the military and police of many other nations. Ordnance Corps personnel continue to serve in overseas missions and are an essential component of missions involving troops.
The Transport Corps is responsible for the procurement, management and maintenance of all soft skinned vehicles, and the maintenance of all armoured vehicles within the Defence Forces. It is also responsible for the driver training, testing, certification, maintenance of driving standards and provision of vehicle fuels, oils and lubricants. The Transport Corps provides heavy lift capability for the Defence Forces.
The Army Medical Corps has the responsibility of maintaining health and preventing disease in the Defence Forces and providing treatment of its sick and wounded. While these functions are of prime importance in time of war they also continue in peacetime. The Corps provides Dental as well as medical care for all personnel. The service provided includes surgery, physiotherapy and nursing. Their personnel have served in all the major UN missions providing medical and dental support. They also fill an important role in the provision of humanitarian assistance to the local civilian population giving medical aid in circumstances in which local medical services are unlikely to function adequately.
Military Police Corps:
The Military Police (Irish: Poilini Airm) are responsible for the prevention and investigation of offences, the enforcement of discipline and the general policing of the Defence Forces. In wartime, additional tasks include the provision of a traffic control organisation to allow rapid movement of military formations to their mission areas. Other wartime rules include control of prisoners of war and refugees. Traditionally, the Military Police have also had a considerable involvement at state and ceremonial occasions. In recent years the Military Police have been deployed in many UN missions (e.g. Iran /Iraq) and later in the former Yugoslavia (SFOR). They enjoy a very close working relationship with An Garda Síochána at national and local levels. The Gardaí assist in providing specialist police training to the Military Police in the field of crime investigation. Also known as the PAs in Irish Army slang (Poilini Airm).
The CIS corps is a support corps responsible for installing, maintaining and operating telecommunications equipment and information systems.
The rank structure of the Irish Army is organised along standard military rank and command structures. These consist of the following ranks:
Enlisted and other ranks:
2 Star Private
3 Star Private/Trooper/Gunner
Company/Battery Quartermaster Sergeant
Battalion/Regimental Quartermaster Sergeant
Battalion/Regimental Sergeant Major
The Irish Army has historically purchased and used weapons and equipment from other western countries, mainly from European nations and especially from Britain. Generally all equipment is of NATO standard design. Ireland usually doesn't produce its own armaments and has a very limited arms industry (almost non-existent).
In the beginning, the Army used the British Lee-Enfield Rifle, which would be the mainstay for many decades after independence. In the 1960s some modernisation came with the introduction of the Belgian-made FN FAL 7.62 mm assault rifle.
Currently the standard weapon for an Irish Army soldier is the Austrian made Steyr AUG 5.56 mm assault rifle (used in the other branches of the Defence Forces). The Steyr began to replace the older FAL in 1988, although some of the Reserve Force continued to use the FAL until 2002.
Other weapons in use by the Irish Army are the FN MAG, known as the "General Purpose Machine Gun" (GPMG), the FGM-148 Javelin Anti-tank guided missile (replacing the MILAN).
The Irish Army has historically preferred Light vehicles to the heavy armour types used by other European nations, and this preference continues today. The most recent completed purchase involved a large number of the Swiss made Mowag Piranha Armoured fighting vehicles - which have become the Army's primary vehicle in the Mechanized infantry role. Most of these are equipped with 12.7 mm HMGs, but recently the army has ordered an additional number of Piranhas with a mix of weapons systems, including the Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace "remote weapon station" with a 12.7 mm heavy machine gun and Oto Melara 30 mm Autocannon equipped vehicles. The army has ordered 27 RG-32M light tactical armoured vehicles with the first 2 delivered in 2010. The Irish Army's only tank type vehicle is the British made FV101 Scorpion light tank, with a 76.2 mm main gun. Other vehicles include the Panhard AML (with 90 mm gun).