Nine Offaly personnel are serving with the 108 IRISHFINN (Irish-Finnish) Battalion in UNIFIL (United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon) are part of the Irish force of 330 personnel deployed in Lebanon.
Amongst the nine is Lieutenant Aidan O’Reilly from Clara who’s brother Rory was a member of the 107 Battalion and returned to Clara in May following a 10 day overlap in Camp Shamrock.
The Irish Defence Forces have extensive experience of the culture, geography and people of South Lebanon. This is the third term of deployment of Irish troops to Lebanon
The Defence Forces first deployed to UNIFIL from 1978 to 2001 (23 years continuous service). UNIFIL II saw the deployment of Defence Forces to Lebanon again from 2006 to 2007.
The Defence Forces deployed for the third time in May 2011.
Forty-seven Defence Forces personnel have paid the ultimate price in the cause of peace while on active service in Lebanon. The Defence Forces has 55 years of continuous experience on peacekeeping operations in some of the most hostile countries of the world.
The 108th Irish Finnish Battalion consisting of 332 Irish and 176 Finnish personnel will deploy to the At Tiri area in South Lebanon with the following assets: one Mechanised Infantry Company, one Reconnaissance Company, one Battalion Support Group and one Battalion Headquarters.
Operations will be conducted on a high visibility, low profile basis. The capabilities of the 108th Infantry Battalion include: Civilian Military Co-operation (CIMIC), Humanitarian Assistance, Armoured Patrolling, Crowd Riot Control (CRC) in public order scenarios, Fire Support and Counter – Improvised Explosive Device Detection (C-IEDD), extraction and recovery capabilities.
The 108 Infantry Battalion operate out of three locations. The main body of troops are located in the vicinity of At Tiri in the new Headquarters at UN position 2-45, with Platoon size posts located South of Tibnin along the Blue Line, at UN Position 6-52 and UN position 6-50.
Although 76 members of the battalion are on their first overseas trip there are over 880 tours of duty completed by the remaining personnel in almost every mission the Irish Defence Forces have been involved in.
A number of those present including Company Sergeant Patrick Ryan who has completed 20 trips overseas and was a member of the 43 Infantry Battalion which was the first Irish Defence Forces Battalion deployed to Lebanon in 1978.