Joint Chiefs Chairman Briefed on Irish Defense Capabilities
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
DUBLIN, Ireland, July 20, 2005 The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff visited with his counterpart here today and learned about the capabilities of the Irish military and its worldwide operations.
Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers met with Irish Chief of Defense Forces Army Lt. Gen. James Sreenan and continued conversation they had in May when Sreenan visited Washington.
The Irish chief took the opportunity to discuss the military's capabilities and operations. Irish soldiers are participating, for example, in the U.N. mission in Liberia. About 450 Irish soldiers are among the 15,000 soldiers involved in peacekeeping operations there. The U.N. mission there has been in place since September 2003, and has included troops from about 45 countries.
Irish soldiers also are participating in peacekeeping operations in Lebanon, Bosnia, Kosovo and Afghanistan. Myers placed a wreath at the royal hospital here in commemoration of the fallen members of the Irish defense forces.
Myers expressed his appreciation for the good military-to-military relationship between the two countries, and emphasized the U.S. desire to continue training opportunities with the Irish military. Officers and noncommissioned officers from both countries routinely attend professional military education together. The militaries also work together under U.N. auspices.
Myers got a closer view of the Irish capabilities at McKee Barracks here. He saw some special operations forces equipment Irish soldiers used when they first went into Liberia and spoke with officers and soldiers who operated that equipment.
For example, he viewed Irish explosive ordnance disposal equipment and spoke to some specialists. "The Irish defense forces have a world-class EOD effort," an official traveling with Myers noted.
All in all, the Irish military is not large - about 11,000 soldiers, airmen and sailors - but it has many areas of expertise. The Irish military has a deserved reputation for crisis management, said Army Col. Paul Flynn, U.S. defense attache here.
Ireland is part of NATO's Partnership for Peace program and all Irish systems and training meet or exceed NATO standards, said an Irish officer. "Interoperability is very important to us," he said. Much of the equipment would be familiar to American servicemembers, he added.
Myers told Irish officials he was impressed with the professionalism, motivation and morale of the soldiers he met. He participated in a video teleconference with the Irish commander in Liberia and told him he could be very proud of what he, his soldiers and his country are doing for peace.