Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Figured since today is often celebrated in honor of the Patron Saint of Ireland we’d talk about some of Ireland’s more dangerous men – the Fiannóglach, or “Devils of Kildare.” The Irish Rangers.
Now somewhat analogous to our Combat Action Group (CAG), the British SAS, French GIGN, etc, they began as a cross-training exchange program with our 75th Ranger Regiment at Ft. Benning. The full spectrum of special operations/counter-terror role within the Irish Defense Force is now fulfilled by the ARW, Irish Army Air Ranger Wing, or Fiannóglach. There’s no literal English translation from the Gaelic, so the proper term for one of their operators is Ranger. They wear a tab much like the Ranger scroll that says FIANNOGLACH.
The Fiannóglach divide all operations into green (traditional special forces, recon, direct action, Foreign Internal Defense) or black (counter-terrorist, counter-espionage, high value target direct action, etc.). They are garrisoned in Curragh Camp, County Kildare (hence the nickname Devils of Kildare). Their motto is Glaine ár gcroí, neart ár ngéag agus beart de réir ár mbriathar: in English, the cleanliness of our hearts, the strength of our limbs and our commitment to our promise.
To get into the unit, potential operators (who can come from any branch of service) must undergo a rigorous five week long Selection course before earning the right to attend a six month basic skills course before moving on to their specific assignment. The ARW runs mission inside Ireland under the “Specialist Aid to the Civil Power” provision of Irish law as well as deployments everywhere regular Irish do on Peacekeeping operations and GWOT. Irish Rangers have deployed to a number of places in support of UN Peacekeeping missions, including Liberia, Chad, Mogadishu/Somalia, East Timor, Bosnia, Iraq and possibly Lebanon. They were at least alerted and put on standby to assist in the evacuation of civilians from Libya as well.
ARW equipment and training is largely what you’d expect it to be, and just as strenuous as you would expect of such a unit. All Rangers are Airborne qualified, many also HALO and HAHO, with maritime, diving , small boat handling and underwater demolition skills as well. Ireland’s geography dictates much of the most likely threat spectrum, so substantial amount of their training and preparation revolves on and below the water.
Weaponry is also what you might expect: MP5s, Sig P226s, etc. but instead of M4 variants they largely carry Steyr AUG A3s, with and without grenade launchers, the Accuracy International L96 Arctic Warfare Series sniper rifle, H&K 33/SG1s and for big jobs the Accuracy International AW50.