Army/Navy/Air Corps

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Army/Navy/Air Corps
The Army, the Naval Service, the Air Corps and the Reserve Defence Force all fall under the umbrella of The Irish Defence Forces (Óglaigh na hÉireann). The Irish government delegated certain duties and responsibilities to the Defence Force which are to defend the state against armed aggression, to assist the Gardaí, to participate in peace support and humanitarian relief missions with the UN and to carry out other duties such as search and rescue, air ambulance and ministerial air transport.
There is a wide range of career opportunities available including army, naval service and air corps recruits, cadetships and apprenticeships. There is a big difference between the career paths of people who enlist as a recruit or apprentice and those who apply for cadetships; read on to learn more about this important distinction.

Recruits are accepted into the Defence Forces as required, and opportunities are advertised in the national press. Candidates must be between 17 and 27 years of age. Both male and female candidates should be over 5’2” and pass a stringent medical examination and tough physical fitness test. You need to submit an application form along with two references from responsible people such as a teacher, Garda or priest.

Army Recruits in the Permanent Defence Force undergo an initial training period lasting 16 weeks. This training includes arms drill, foot drill, first aid, fieldcraft, rifle marksmanship, and tactical and physical training. When the training period is completed, the recruit becomes a two star private. After a further eight-week course, the recruit becomes a three star private and is assigned to a unit within the Permanent Defence Force.

Naval Service Recruits in the Naval Service, like army recruits, begin with 19 weeks of training. This training covers basic military training and naval subjects such as boat handling, rope work, seamanship and communications. After basic training, the seaman will be assigned for further training and subsequent employment onboard a ship in one of the following specialisations: seaman gunner, communications operator, mechanics and catering or supply.

Air CorpsAn air corps cadet completes a 21-month course – 7 months at The Cadet School in the Curragh, followed by 14 months at the Basic Flying Training Wing in Dublin. Upon successful completion of training, cadets join the commissioned ranks as an air corps officer/pilot.

Cadetships are like management or officer training for the Defence Forces. The purpose of cadet training is to develop character and leadership skills and to instil a sense of duty and responsibility.

Candidates for cadetships need to be between 17 and 28 years old (for army cadetships), and must have already obtained a third-level degree, or else gained at least three Grade C3 marks at higher level and three Grade D3 marks at ordinary level subjects in the Leaving Certificate. They must also be in excellent physical and mental condition, with good teeth, eyesight and hearing.

The selection process includes a preliminary interview, physical fitness test, psychometric tests and group assessment. This is followed by a final interview where candidates must demonstrate their communication, teamwork, leadership and decision-making skills, as well as their personal motivation to become an army/navy or air corps cadet. Candidates who already have a third-level degree are at an advantage.

Army cadet training
This takes place in the Curragh Camp and takes 15 months to complete. The cadet is instructed in weapons handling, arms and foot drill, tactics, military engineering, military law, human resources management, communications skills, IT systems and academic subjects including psychology, history and politics. Cadets are required to take an active interest in sport.
Army equitation cadets undergo the same training as other cadets, also receiving horsemanship instruction. Air corps cadets first undergo basic training with other cadets, and then move to Casement Aerodrome for flying training. Navy cadets are divided into Operations Branch and Engineering Branch. Navy training takes place in Haulbowline in County Cork, and includes seamanship, navigation, gunnery and weapons control systems.

A cadet who satisfactorily completes the prescribed course of military training and who passes all examinations and tests is eligible for appointment as a commissioned officer (CO). Cadets may decide to pursue third-level education after completion of initial training, and the Defence Forces generally pay for fees and accommodation while the cadets are gaining their degrees.

Navy cadet training
Candidates for navy cadetships must be aged between 18 and 28. There are two separate cadetships available for applications: Operations Branch Cadet and Engineering Branch Cadet.

The Operations Branch Cadet is involved in the efficient running of a ship and is responsible for the officers, the communication system and any weapons on board. Another element of this branch is bridge watch keeping which is fundamental for the safe navigation of a ship. Captains can only be derived out of this group.

The Engineering Branch involves training with a view to fulfilling the role of Marine Engineering Officer who concentrates on everything involved in keeping the boat afloat and moving.
Both cadetships have a duration of two years. The first three months of the first year is spent in the Curragh, and the following nine months of first year focus on Naval Training both at sea and at the Naval Base in Cork.
The second year involves cadets taking part in the first leg of a degree programme in the National Maritime College of Ireland (NMCI) in Ringaskiddy Co. Cork. The Operations Branch study Nautical Science and the Engineering Branch undertake Marine Engineering. On graduating after two years, most cadets become officers.

Apprentices in the Defence Forces receive training for their chosen trade, as well as military training. Apprenticeships are available in the trades of Aircraft Mechanic, Heavy Vehicle Mechanic and Fitter Armourer. Defence Forces apprenticeships run in association with FÁS. Apprentice candidates should be between 17 and 20 years old and have received Grade C (Ordinary) or Grade D (Higher) in at least three subjects in their Junior Cert. They must also pass a rigorous physical test. Selection is by interview. Apprenticeships combine classroom instruction and practical instruction in a workplace situation. Apprentices also undergo military training and physical training similar to that of recruits. The entire training lasts four years and apprentices live together in barracks.
On completion of training, apprentices are assigned to units and can expect to progress upwards through the non-commissioned ranks.

The Work

Whether you enter the Defence Forces as a recruit or a cadet, and whether you join the army, navy or air corps, your basic duties and responsibilities are the same.

The roles of the Defence Forces are:

Defend the State against armed aggression; this being a contingency, preparations for its implementation will depend on an ongoing Government assessment of the security and defence environment

Aid the civil power (meaning in practice to assist, when requested, the Garda Síochána, who have primary responsibility for law and order, including the protection of the internal security of the State)

Participate in multinational peace support, crisis management and humanitarian relief operations in support of the United Nations and under UN mandate, including regional security missions authorised by the UN

Provide a fishery protection service in accordance with the State’s obligations as a member of the EU

Carry out such other duties as may be assigned to them from time to time, e. g. , search and rescue, air ambulance service, Ministerial air transport service, assistance on the occasion of natural or other disasters, assistance in connection with the maintenance of essential services, assistance in combating oil pollution at sea

Candidates for the Defence Forces need to be strong – both mentally and physically. Communication and teamwork skills are required, as is a taste for physical exertion. Cadets need to have good leadership skills, and the capability to cope with the academic parts of the course.

Did you know?
The shortest war was that between the United Kingdom and Zanzibar, from 9:02 am to 9:40 am on 27 August 1896.

Further Resources

The Defence Forces: www. military. ie

National Maritime College of Ireland: www. nmci. ie

EUFOR – EU peacekeeping force in Bosnia and Herzegovina: www. euforbih. org is a national database of universities, colleges, institutes and providers of third level and PLC courses in Ireland. We operate a national search database of courses at certificate, diploma and degree level as well as providing information about career paths and directions.
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