A special unit of the Irish Armed Forces called the Army Ranger Wing has already been written in our magazine earlier. The unit's official name in Irish is Sciathan Fianoglach an Airm. Of course, this is a modern translation, since Fianoglach is a Gaulish word borrowed from the ancient Fianna - legendary Irish warriors. Ancient military traditions are observed in the military.
Today we will talk in more detail about how the selection and training of personnel of this elite unit is organized.
Anyone can become a candidate for the Army Ranger Wing (ARW), regardless of age, since the command does not consider age as a restriction for participation in trials. The oldest Wing soldier is 44 years old, the average age of the unit's personnel is 31 years. When operating in East Timor, the command, when forming groups, staffed them with soldiers of different ages, which made the units more stable and reliable in operation. Therefore, the main criterion for eligibility is only the physical condition of the candidate. To determine it, candidates will have to take an annual Ranger selection course. Each year, 40 to 80 candidates arrive to participate in the selection course. Usually, after 4 weeks of testing, no more than 15 percent remains in service. Each candidate has the right to attempt to complete the Ranger Selection Course no more than three times.
These 4 weeks are organizationally divided into two phases.
At the first stage, everyone starts from scratch - the instructors explain the basic requirements for candidates. Beginners will have to pass a large number of physical tests, work out confident behavior in the water, take a course in assault actions and individual navigation tests, as well as an eight-kilometer march. During the tests, candidates sleep no more than 4-5 hours and are subjected to constant psychological pressure from the instructors. If the candidate is unable to complete more than three of the nine basic tests, he returns to his military unit where he came from. The third and fourth weeks consist of an extended reconnaissance patrol, which includes not only testing, but also training of personnel. Candidates are taught the tactics of spetsnaz actions, the basics of reconnaissance, organizing and conducting observation, collecting information, as well as organizing reconnaissance of enemy troops and conducting ambush operations. Candidates reach their highest stress during the 45-kilometer march, which completes the selection.
All candidates who have successfully completed the ranger course are presented with a shoulder patch with the inscription: "Fianoglach". The recruitment of officer and sergeant positions is also carried out on the basis of qualifying tests. On average, officers serve in the unit for 3-4 years.
It is worth paying attention to the fact that during the qualifying course, the tests offered to candidates are the same for privates, non-commissioned officers and officers. During the selection process, neither the titles of the candidates, nor the positions held by them before, matter, only the quality indicators are important when passing the tests.
Those who are fortunate enough to pass the qualifying tests have a long way to master a new military specialty. For six months, they take a basic skills course, being part of a training squad, where they wear black berets. Here, beginners study all the weapons and equipment that are at the disposal of the rangers, as well as acquire other skills that will be useful to them in order to successfully integrate into the unit. And only after completing this course, candidates who successfully complete it are entitled to wear a green beret, indicating that they belong to the Army Ranger Wing. The newcomers who have passed the selection and training course are part of the assault teams, in which they master the art of conducting reconnaissance during long-distance patrols and throwing into the deep rear of the enemy, acquire the skills of scuba diving in special light-diving equipment, parachute jumping and demolition work.
All Rangers acquire a skydiving qualification after completing five parachute jumps, after which they must certify it annually by completing at least five programmed jumps per year. Fighters of the assault teams learn to shoot accurately from all types of weapons at their disposal, master the tactics of assault on various vehicles: a bus, a railway carriage or a train, as well as an aircraft. In the future, depending on the position held in the group, they undergo specialization courses: first aid (with all personnel undergoing basic first aid training at the medical school of the Defense Forces), scuba diving, the device and conduct of demolition work, extreme driving car.
Each Wing Ranger undergoes an advanced first aid course under the guidance of the Army Medical Corps. The training program includes basic trauma care, intravenous administration and oxygen therapy.
In the course of combat operations, as well as in classes and exercises, the entire list of medical equipment is in readiness to provide medical assistance to both the personnel of the rangers and other victims.
The unit has full-time employees who monitor the condition and readiness for use of the Wing's medical equipment.
ARW uses digital communication technology and speed mode to transmit information and images.
ARW is armed with SINGCARS and RACAL radios. Rangers study the materiel of communications and learn to communicate both with the Wing headquarters and within the team when completing missions.
The Wing's communications with the headquarters of the defense forces are carried out by communications specialists.
As soon as a candidate is selected for service in the unit, he is immediately instructed on the rules for handling weapons. Particular attention is paid to the acquisition of marksmanship skills from all types of standard weapons: pistols, submachine guns, rifles. Accurate shooting from these types of weapons is the norm for the bulk of the rangers. The most trained shooters master the art of sniper shooting.
Unit sniper training
One of the basic military skills that an Irish Ranger must possess is sniper training. Up to half of the Wing's personnel have sniper qualifications. This high level of training provides the command with more opportunities in the distribution of roles in the group in accordance with professional qualifications.
Those wishing to become snipers must complete a seven-week basic sniper course. During it, trainees are taught various special disciplines, such as firing from sniper rifles of various models at various distances both day and night, the art of camouflage and camouflage, orienteering with and without a map, as well as laying routes and moving on different terrain along the selected route. After completing the training, the ranger receives the qualification of a sniper.
For personnel selected as snipers, intensive training is conducted, sometimes in conjunction with specialists from foreign special forces. The unit also has a special anti-terror sniper course, which includes the following disciplines: improved shooting techniques, camouflage in the city, coordinated firing procedures, and computer data transmission.
Positioning, observing, and reporting on identified targets are essential skills for an ARW sniper to master. The Wing's sniper personnel gained the necessary combat experience in performing these important functions during the Irish battalion's participation in the UN mission in southern Lebanon.
Advanced Navigation Course
From the moment of enrollment in the unit, each ranger undergoes an orienteering course. Confident determination of its position in various terrain, including highly rugged and mountainous, both day and night, is the main guarantee of success in performing combat missions. This requires a deeper knowledge of topography and the ability to navigate. The participation of Wing military personnel in military orienteering competitions helps to hone the skill that is required to achieve the set goals.
To solve these problems, a wide variety of devices and objects are used - from an ordinary working map and a compass to a more complex electronic navigator Global Positioning System with a computerized interface.
Use of explosives for intervention operations
Special intervention operations involve the use of explosives and explosive devices to penetrate the premises occupied by the enemy. Usually explosive charges are placed in order to destroy the door. In order not to harm neighbors or random people, the calculation of the weight of the explosive is done very carefully.
Experts at the Army Ammunition Corps consider the ARW sapper team to be the best trained in the army in the area of ammunition detection and disposal. ARW personnel are familiar with the various improvised explosive devices that are widely used by terrorist groups in Ireland, rebels in southern Lebanon, and in other parts of the world where Irish rangers have had to take part in UN peacekeeping missions. The experience gained from humanitarian missions is important as it helps to adjust and develop the training curriculum for mine clearance and blasting specialists, taking into account the new products used by terrorists and insurgents in various regions of the world.
Organization of parachute training
Mastering the parachute training program is mandatory for all rangers. All Wing servicemen must complete at least five jumps from a height of 600 meters with a round T10 parachute in order to earn the corresponding "Parachutist Wings" badge. The best skydivers go on to master the program of free-fall jumps with a delayed opening of the parachute. Those rangers who achieve the highest skill in this are sent to master the program, which according to NATO standards is called HALO (High altitude low opening) and HAHO (High altitude high opening). During this program, Rangers learn to jump from high altitude with a canopy at low altitude, as well as jumping from high altitude with a chute at high altitude and then glide to a predetermined landing area.
Most of the wing's parachutists were awarded prizes received at various sport parachutism competitions, including parachute jumps for precision landing and group aerial acrobatics. The Army Rangers Wing Team represents the Irish Defense Forces in the annual World War Parachuting Competition.
Diving training unit
Individual rangers receive the combat swimmer specialization. To do this, they must complete a two-week preliminary light diver course under the supervision of specialists from the ARW Diving Section. It allows you to acquire the basic skills of a light diver and master diving equipment. The trainees adapt to the aquatic environment in a variety of conditions and prepare for the next phase of the course, which is being delivered by the Irish Naval Service.
Diving section based on the Navy
This three-week course is analogous to the Navy Diving Course, in which trainees master compass scuba diving, finding sunken ships, deep diving, working in a caisson chamber and navigating small boats.
The final phase consists of a seven-day training period for the combat swimmer under the supervision of experienced specialists from the ARW diving section.
During this time, the trainees master the exploration of the harbor and the coast, as well as covert boarding on board the ship (Covert Ship Boarding). The phase ends with a naval exercise involving all of the Wing's combat swimmers.
As part of the ongoing training of its personnel, the Wing is conducting events aimed at exchanging experiences with special forces and intervention units from other countries, including the Royal Danish Marines, the French Gendarmerie GIGN, Italy's CIS, Germany's GSG-9 and the Swedish SSG. The exchange of experience in the course of international cooperation allows you to both assess your own level against the background of other special forces, and acquire new special skills and knowledge. ARW personnel, who have passed a special selection, undergo specialization according to the distribution of roles in the unit in such specialties as a combat swimmer, sniper, paratrooper, medic or demolition man.
Creation and preparation of combat swimmers section
In order to ensure that the Irish Ranger unit meets international standards, a diving section was created within ARW in 1982. The personnel selected for it and having experience in diving descents under water were tasked with preparing a list of necessary diving equipment. It was delivered shortly thereafter and included eight complete sets of diving equipment, including an underwater watch, waterproof equipment bags and a gasoline compressor for scuba diving. The first boats were ordered from the UK in the city of Avon. These were 5, 5m Sea-Raiders with twin outboard YAMAHA 60 motors. These boats were the first of their kind in Irish waters and were therefore used not only by the diving section, but also to transport ground units on lakes and during maritime operations.
As soon as the equipment arrived, training of personnel began. Even before the first ARW Combat Swimmer Course was conducted by the Navy from June 20 to July 8, 1983, the section personnel attended lectures on diving and diving experience. These classes were organized and conducted by their comrades who had experience of launching under water.
The Light Divers Section of the Navy Service sought to transfer its expertise to a new division of army divers. Long runs in dry suits, mud running and bridge jumping have become a daily routine for beginners. If army divers were going to receive a combat swimmer's insignia, then it had to be earned. During all courses, they adapted to the dark cold water of the pool, submerged under water for a long time in order to understand their capabilities and get used to a new environment for many.
It soon became clear to the specialists of the light divers section of the fleet that army divers must have a high professional level and have many additional knowledge and skills, since they were to perform tasks as a special purpose unit. During that period, a close relationship was established between the section of naval divers and the section of army divers ARW.
Combat swimmer course
So far, ARW frogmen candidates are taking a four-week course at the Navy base. It consists of the following activities: lectures, physical training - surface swimming with fins, swimming for survival to the maximum range, swimming in unloading vests, searching for sunken ships and search technology, underwater orientation day and night, going out under water using a compass to a given section of the coast and training in coastal clearance, small craft management.
Subsequently, the number of training hours in underwater orientation was increased. Also in the curriculum was included the topic "The use of explosives under water."
The set of individual diving equipment for each combat swimmer of the section includes: a four-millimeter dry-type diving suit of black color, a Commando unloading vest, a Mark 10 breathing apparatus (scuba diving) with an R190 regulator, a console with three instruments: a clock, a depth gauge and a compass, weapons and a special Sealed bag for packing an MP5 D3 submachine gun or Steyr rifle and communications equipment.
Advanced parachute training
In 1980, the first Defense Force paratrooper courses were opened at ARW. For the training of the first set of courses, C-9 parachutes were used - former parachutes of The Curragh unit from the US Air Force.
In a short period of time, the unit conducted a selection of candidates to study the material part of the parachute and parachute equipment, as well as to perform training parachute jumps. Over time, the need for new parachutes arose, and in 1987 the state purchased thirty new T-10 military parachutes with a round dome for the unit.
This allowed the creation of Air Force courses in the Irish city of Gormanston. In addition to delivering ARW and Defense Force courses, instructors formed a parachute team for demonstration performances. Wing Paratroopers usually represent the Irish Defense Forces in international competitions.
The showcase team of parachutists has always been the face of the unit. Since the early years, ARW personnel have been involved with the Defense Force Demonstration Team "The Black Knights" in demonstration performances at a very high level.
In addition to the demonstration performances, Wing personnel often represented the Irish Defense Forces team in parachuting competitions, winning national precision landing competitions several times. Since 1991, the Wing Parachute Team has represented the Defense Forces overseas in various international military competitions. Over the past decades, ARW parachutists have grown significantly in professional terms, new military parachutes have been purchased, which have a reduced area and a special shape that allow them to perform free fall while practicing the HALO (high altitude low opening) program. In addition, they have real combat experience.
Despite the fact that the ARW is part of the regular army, it is rather isolated. This is due to the specifics of the tasks facing him and the level of training of personnel. Whatever combat operations the Irish Rangers have to carry out, each time they receive very flattering assessments of their activities from the higher command. An example is the opinion of the commander-in-chief of the international forces in East Timor (INTERFET). Speaking about the Irish, he first of all noted their high professionalism, which is surprisingly combined with the modesty and reliability of each of the rangers subordinate to him.