Why you have never heard of Ireland’s elite green beret-wearing warriors


“Glaine ár gcroí, Neart ár ngéag, Agus beart de réir ár mbriathar.”

To those who don’t speak Gaelic, it means “The cleanliness of our hearts, The strength of our limbs, And our commitment to our promise.”

Cool as it sounds, this is more than some cliche phrase one would find in a tattoo shop. No, this is the motto of Ireland’s elite Army Ranger Wing, the premier special operations force of the Irish Defence Forces.

Established in 1980, their actual troop numbers of the ARW are classified, they are reported to only have around 150 operators and pool talent from the Irish Army, Naval Service and Air Corps. Despite their small size, they are incredibly well-trained and versatile enough to handle whatever trouble comes their way- be it within or outside the Emerald Isles.

The ARW evolved from the findings of Irish troops who attended US Army Ranger School in the late 1960s and early 1970s, holding the first Irish Ranger School in 1969. Organized into Special Assault Groups of 40 Rangers each, eventually rising to a force strength of about 300 Rangers by the mid-70s.

After the 1972 Munich massacre in West Germany and trouble with the Provisional IRA terror cells at home, the Rangers were reorganized into the Army Ranger Wing in 1980. By 1991, they were given their distinctive green berets.

The ARW sees about 40-80 candidates attempt selection annually, with recruits going into a 40 week course to determine their eligibility. While selection has been open to women since 1984, none have been able to complete the course.

The Rangers have deployed several times since 1980, with their first mission in 1993, landing them as peacekeeping forces in Somalia. Since then, they have been to East Timor, Lebanon, Cyprus, Iraq and the Western Sahara.

When not performing “green” duties abroad, the ARW serves as a counter-terror unit at home, performing their “black” role.

Only three Rangers are confirmed to have been killed since 1980, with only one overseas casualty.

Armed with everything from Steyer AUGs to AW50 sniper rifles, the ARW are prepared to take the fight to Ireland’s enemies- wherever they are.

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