Tuesday, 26 February 2019
Department of Defence
European Defence Agency
37. To ask the Taoiseach and Minister for Defence the specific role the Defence Forces will play in the proposed European Defence Agency Project - Military Search Capability Building; if the role is in line with the normal peacekeeping role; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9424/19]
In accordance with the Defence (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009, the Government and Dáil approval was received on 21st February 2019 for Ireland to participate in a European Defence Agency (EDA) project in relation to Military Search Capability Building. This Project will develop common processes, techniques and procedures for military search for participating Member States.
The Defence Forces engage extensively in specialist military search activities, dealing with unexploded ordnance, improvised explosive devices and ensuring a safe and secure operating environment for military operations. Specialist Search and Clearance teams are regularly deployed on both home and overseas operations. There are currently two specialist search teams overseas operating in a peacekeeping capacity in UNDOF and UNIFIL. These teams are an essential force protection asset in overseas peace support operations. They conduct route searches and area clearances in advance of vehicle or foot patrols to ensure that the area is free from unexploded ordnance, improvised explosive devices and mines. At home, the Defence Forces also provide this capability to An Garda Síochána in support of Aid to Civil Power operations during high profile visits by foreign VIPs and for searches for bodies and weapons.
The Defence Forces do not have search teams at an advanced search capability level to enable them to conduct Hazardous Environment Search, Working in Confined Space and operating in Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear environments. Participation in this project addresses this capability gap and will assist the Defence Forces in their peacekeeping roles. The training element to Instructor level, within this project, will ensure that this requirement may be met from within the Defence Forces going forward and assist with future training for peacekeeping duties.
This project, as with all other EDA projects that Ireland participates in, supports the development of Defence Forces capabilities for peacekeeping and international crisis management operations.