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Irish Defence Forces
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Irish Defence Forces

The Irish Defence Forces are the army, navy and air-force of the Republic of Ireland. Their official Irish Gaelic title is Óglaigh na hÉireann, literally: "Volunteers of Ireland". The President of Ireland is the formal commander-in-chief of the Defence Forces, but in practice they answer to the Government via the Minister of Defence. The Defence Forces consist of the:

Irish Defence Forces
Military manpower
Military age17 years of age
Availability males age 15-49: 994,040 (2000 est.)
Fit for military service males age 15-49: 801,975 (2000 est.)
Reaching military age annually males: 33,303
(2000 est.)
Military expenditures
Dollar figure$732 million (FY98)
Percent of GDP0.9% (FY98)

Table of contents
1 Role
2 History
3 Strength
4 See also
5 External link


The Republic of Ireland's favourable geographical location, between the United States and the European Union, makes any external threat or invasion unlikely. The state also has a long-standing policy of non-belligerence in armed conflicts, that included neutrality in World War II. For these reasons, the Republic's military capacity is relatively modest. However, the state has a long history of involvement in United Nations peace-keeping operations. Functions of the Defence Forces include:


The Defence Forces trace their origins to the Irish Volunteers founded in 1913. This organisation was succeed, in 1919, by the Irish Republican Army (IRA): the guerrilla organisation that fought the War of Independence. Shortly after the creation of the 1922 Irish Free State, the IRA were succeeded by the modern Defence Forces. The Irish title Óglaigh na hÉireann, that had previously been used by both the Irish Volunteers and the IRA, was adopted by the Defence Forces as a claim of continuity with these organisations.


As of 2004, the Irish Army consists of 8,500 service members supplemented by reserves. The Naval Service operates eight off-shore patrol boats: seven ships of 1,000-1,500 tons displacement with crews of 39-45, and one of 1,900 tons with a crew of 85. The Air Corps operates reconnaissance planes, transport helicopters and a presidential jet. It has seven propellor-driven aerobatics planes with machine guns and missile capability. In January, 2004 the Republic of Ireland had almost 800 military personal deployed overseas in various UN and other missions.

See also

External link