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Future of warfare (How should Ireland build their millitary)

  • 05-05-2022 2:59pm
    Registered Users Posts: 9,447 ✭✭✭

    I was just wondering what would be a logical way for Ireland to built its millitary power and/or its defence capabilities?

    If you look at the Ukraine war, all types of drones are proving to be very usefull. Russian flagship destroyed by land based missile.. etc etc

    What would boardsies choose as a realistic path froward for the Irish defence force?



  • Registered Users Posts: 16,556 ✭✭✭✭banie01

    We need to look at our current capability and expand what we do well. We have quite effective infantry who are well trained in small unit tactics aswell as a professional cadre of NCO's in the army. This offers at least an effective foundation for further capability to be built on. We need to consider creating a single state intelligence agency, combining Garda and G2 functions.

    That needs to be supported by a dedicated cyber war/defence unit and in that front? We have much to learn from Estonia.

    Our Air Corps is suffering from not having a credible doctrine. We need to decide what its purpose is. If it is to be a Maritime patrol and occasional ambulance and firefighting unit? It needs to be equipped to fill that role.

    I'd argue that our Air corps needs to fulfil 4 roles.

    1. the surveillance and control of Irish Air space with a primary radar and air policing ability. Air policing in an effective manner can only be done via manned aircraft this is IMO unaffordable in the short term but we should look towards allowing an EU partner to utilise SNN as an air policing base. It's an effective means of allowing us to gain knowledge in fast jet ops.

    2. Surveillance and control of our maritime area, the new C295s are a step in the right direction here. The newer Turkish drones as sold to Pakistan recently could also offer huge capability here.

    3. Support of the Infantry via helicopter ops that could hopefully expand to naval at some point. The ability to support overseas deployment and to ensure we have an independent medium lift capability. This capability in particular has been highlighted as sorely lacking in our COVID response and our reliance upon France & Finland in our Afghan evac.

    4. To provide aid to the civil power, to improve our air ambulance and fire fighting response and to develop the ability to take on ad-hoc roles as needed.

    Our naval service needs a similar review IMO. We will never be nor should we aim to be a naval power. However, common sense and geography dictate that we at least need the ability to offer something more than a 76mm cannon in opposition to any incursion in our EEZ.

    The NS has a multitude of responsibilities and a staffing issue. We should focus on the staffing issues 1st. Pointless adding capability or ships without the personnel to implement them.

    We could probably gain more from improved ships in terms of nominal surveillance and defence ability of adding ships such as the proposed European Patrol Corvette

    to our fleet. This wouldn't place an onerous manpower need on the NS but would add huge capability and also allow for sharing cost and design risk across the EU.

    We can't magically overturn the years of decline in our DF or the decades of budgetary stagnation. We can however start to address shortcomings and PESCO and partnership with Europe is a great way to start.

  • Registered Users Posts: 24,908 ✭✭✭✭Strumms

    Problem isn’t identifying a means of defending our country… the problem is finding the cash to pay for it and with people like Covney and co. the will to do it…

    we are an outlier of an island, vulnerable to attack from the air and sea if another state chooses to attack us. What assistance would EU states provide ? That scenario has never been tested. I wouldn’t be optimistic..

    geographically the nearest EU country to us is France… I say EU country not ally… we just happen to be members of the same Economic and political Union…

    an island nation without a single attack jet aircraft.

    ireland has been identified as a weak link courtesy of underspending, under resourcing of our defense forces…The Commission on the Defence Forces report a few weeks ago confirmed….

    billions per decade spent on overseas aid and now facilitating everyone else with everything else arriving here…but we cannot defend the country and its citizens…

    while we might not have any enemies our geographical position as an outlier island nation with no Air Force, limited marine defense capabilities and general understaffing leave us vulnerable in the extreme ….

    we need according to the report to triple our levels of spending…

    more personnel, ships, jet aircraft, primary radar… which has incidentally been mumbled about for 7 years yet nothing..

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,320 ✭✭✭Dohvolle

    If only the government would create some sort of body of experts, who would look in to this exact topic, and seek submissions from individuals, public and private bodies with an interest in the topic. Then maybe they might come up with some solutions....

    like this...

    SHH. - Commission on the Defence Forces (

  • Registered Users Posts: 16,556 ✭✭✭✭banie01

    I'd strongly argue that the geopolitical premises on which the Commission report and in particular it's recommendations are based have been upended.

    It's gone from LOA1,2 being the likely options in February and LOA3 being the extreme outlier, to now IMO at least LOA3 being the baseline for any future improvement.

  • Registered Users Posts: 23,858 ✭✭✭✭Larbre34

    Do we need this thread?

    We have one for the outcome of the CoD, which is effectively this discussion, as well as acquisition threads for the Navy and Air Corps. Suggest a merge.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 3,888 ✭✭✭sparky42

    I’d have to agree, the Commissions report pretty much covered the options and had suggestions for each level, not sure why we need a new thread, or at least one before we even know what the Government is going to adopt and on what timescale.

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,320 ✭✭✭Dohvolle

    So you have not read the report then, because that is exactly what it recommended.

  • Registered Users Posts: 9,447 ✭✭✭weisses

    I opened this thread using the situation in Ukraine as an example. I believe conventional strategies and perhaps equipment used by Russia seem outdated.

    Just to give an example. The Report of the Commission on the Defence Forces only mention the word drone 5 times in said report and only in a way as to how to counter them (terrorists). UAV is mentioned twice. We are all witnessing how effective these assts are in Ukraine both in capabilities and cost.

    I think the topic deserves its own thread with maybe some out of the box suggestions for the IDF based on the war in Ukraine.

  • Registered Users Posts: 23,858 ✭✭✭✭Larbre34

    The Irish Army and Navy both already operate UAVs. I'd pretty well assume they will continue to be an investment in any action plan to enact the pending recommendations to Cabinet for wholesale expansion.

  • Registered Users Posts: 9,447 ✭✭✭weisses

    Are they operating anything larger then orbiter 2?

    Would a globalhawk style/type UAV not be very beneficial in monitoring Irish waters?

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  • Registered Users Posts: 23,858 ✭✭✭✭Larbre34

    No, not really. As it is, the Air component of our Defence Forces doesn't even have basic capability like land and sea based air defence radar and intercept, or tactical lift, so I can't see any priority being given to the complex infrastructure needed to operate large UAVs.

    Besides, even leaving aside the cost of such infrastructure, one Globalhawk is about the same price as both of the two C-295s we having coming.

  • Registered Users Posts: 243 ✭✭ancientmariner

    Defence of Ireland at the outset is probably a partnership task. Our principle aim is to make it a difficult task to take and hold mainly by a Denial and Delay strategy. All Service elements need updating starting with a modern Surveillance systems and use also locally of UAV's with links to optronic info and target designation systems. Weaponised drones should also be available.

    Coastal Defence should be a mix of Strike Missiles, Landing denial by controlled seabed charges of about One Tonne each across shallow beach areas. Use also of gated mined approaches to key harbours. Denial in a Westerly or Easterly direction is available on the 120 mile stretch of the Shannon and it's key bridges. Arty needs a long range capability such as 155mm coupled with deployable mobile strike missile systems.

    Infantry units need an upscaling of inventory to modern demonstrated standards. Irish industry needs to be harnessed to manufacture controlled sea mines and AP mines for land based use.

    The Air side needs its MAP's, Rotary Gunships, and a range of interceptors/ fighters with some capable of torpedo attacks.

    The Navy needs to rejoin where it was in 1949 and in 1980's and add strike missiles to it's armoury, assist with mine laying, clearance tasks at sea and Harbours, develop ASW, homing torpedoes, and co-jointly consider a future role in use of submarines.

    We need to utilise MAXAR type systems and ensure that our systems are LINKED for integration of the common effort. Perhaps an EU mil linking system.

  • Registered Users Posts: 23,858 ✭✭✭✭Larbre34

    Sea mines, helicopter gunships and howitzers? Maybe stay off the Red Bull boss man!

    We aren't actually at war you know, we don't need fly barrage balloons and sink a few hulks in the nav channel to keep out the submarines!

    What we are looking at, even if LoA3 was fully adopted, is Navy ships with a good standard of sonar to find, paint and drive any sub-surface vessels, our two new CASAs and maybe a third for good MP coverage, an excellent primary air radar for the land territory of the State and a decent equivalent at sea aboard 2 or 3 ships, with maybe, just *MAYBE*, land and sea based anti-aircraft missile systems like the Aster or Sky Sabre for medium to long range targeting and engagement.

    Don't forget we're moving from a status where we can see and track basically nothing in the air or under the surface, to being able to say to any presence, we can see you, we can track you and if you have malign intentions, we can give you a bad headache. None of that needs battlefield weapons and really, if the CoD advice is fully taken, the Army isn't going to develop massively, except perhaps in comms and cyber, it'll be all about monitoring the seas and skies and putting the Navy and Air "Force" on parity as services.

  • Registered Users Posts: 243 ✭✭ancientmariner

    We have to be able to do more than wheel out a demo system to make a worthwhile impression on incursions OR provide a future defence. In world war 11, we had, I am told, a controlled mine field across the entrance of Cork harbour. It's cheap and easy to do with the right engineering skills-- watertight electrics and an energising set of buttons.

    Our problem continues to be no joined up Defence policy. We HAVE radar coverage out to 16 deg. west and we are part of Euro control, yet our military don't tap in to the Irish owned Radar system. We binned the Naval system owned by the Dept. of Defence and tied up an air capable ship. We have the INFOMAR mapping the seabed and all the wrecks there on which is a skill the Navy should be outfitted to do. We also binned the Helos that went with the ship.

    The Navy need passive and active sonar. Using two ships in passive sonar mode they could fix a submarine but would need a suitable aerial vehicle to drop a warning charge within the EEZ on the targets known position. The active sonar should be matched with 4 tubes for LRHTorpedoes.

    We are not at war but must be able to fight one. The Cruiser off our coast was the one sunk by Ukraine recently.

  • Registered Users Posts: 23,858 ✭✭✭✭Larbre34

    I think you're way off.

    Fighting a war in our own yard isn't even remotely likely. Its about sporadic and unpredictable threat, single or small numbers of craft or aircraft, potential sabotage, espionage, hijacking, terrorism; of assets, interests and resources of the State. Thats the ballgame.

    The Russians can't even fight a War properly over their own fence. Depending on how they come out of the Ukraine invasion, they might not put a blue water Navy to sea again for the foreseeable future.

    Yes, we must do better than we are now, but absolutely no, we do not need to prepare the national territory for an invasion.

    If it even gets to a full blown regional War, it will be nuclear and the only thing worth doing in that event, is finish the best whiskey and light a cigar.

  • Registered Users Posts: 243 ✭✭ancientmariner

    What you describe as a likely scenario has been ongoing for the last 53 years centred on the spin over from NI terrorism, coupled with arms ,and drugs smuggling and the growth of Gilligan, Kinihan and the kidnapping gangs etc. Other than interceptions at sea and the shoot out where some Army personnel were shot, the main thrust is being borne by Garda and Customs. DOD unfortunately took a a Peace dividend from the GFA and started closing down Barracks (Letterkenny) and shedding Brigades. Are you saying that Sweden, Norway, Finland, and other Baltic States have lost the plot. Every Nation on our side of the Fence from New Zealand and Australia to EU and the USA are increasing capability and mobility adding to Fleets. We are lost in an ATCP capability and had to ask some nice people what we should do next. We can find out by buying the freely available operational manuals on warfare from GOV.Uk or the US Gov. where many of our brightest were trained on prestige courses.

    There will be a lot of beef grinding before Nuclear war becomes a reality, as total war on that scale will kill off every nation, except the extreme ends of the Southern hemisphere. The temperatures in Europe would fall to -76deg Centigrade within 6 months.

  • Registered Users Posts: 23,858 ✭✭✭✭Larbre34

    I'm saying Finland and Sweden live next to Russia.

    Australia and New Zealand are on the edge of a massive area of a brewing conflict from the South China Sea to Polynesia. Only last week, the Solomon Islands took a huge wedge of cash from China, to essentially turn their security and their land over to the Chinese. The ANZACs are bloody horrified.

    There are very specific reasons for all of those nations doing what they are doing. We have a job of work to do too, but it's not the same job. And it's certainly not making the Country look like the north coast of France in May 1944.

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,888 ✭✭✭sparky42

    Another bit of fallout from the Russo-Ukraine war is the exposure of just how weak the Russian systems and combat culture actually is, coupled with the systemic weaknesses from corruption and reliance on Western Tech for high end systems both civilian and military, has anyone noticed the rash of industries on fire in Russia over the last few weeks? Those nations closest to Russia are naturally increasing defence spending, what with the war, however in the mid to long term does Russia have the ability to do something like this again? Virtually all of its combat forces have been exposed in one shape or another to be at best marginal at worst deathtraps (have you seen the leaks regarding the combat status of the Moskva?). The threat Russia poses to Ireland was always limited by the nature of having to fight through the heart of NATO to attack us, now however it's a open question as to what level of threat they pose.

    Long term the more likely conflict will be in the Pacific for a variety of reasons, and the US is likely to have to continue to pivot there, meaning Europe/EU should be taking on more capabilities to defend ourselves, and Ireland should be playing a part in that, but suggesting recreating Coastal defences is not an area that should be a high priority area.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1,916 ✭✭✭ronivek

    Personally I think there are two paths open to us. Either we:

    • Accept our Defence Forces are for civil and policing purposes and train/equip/re-organise them as such.
    • Seek to modernise as a military force in the context of a military alliance such as NATO.

    I don't think we have any reasonable option for transitioning our Defence Forces into a "proper" military without significant external support and expenditure that only the likes of NATO (or maybe some sort of EU force) would provide.

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,320 ✭✭✭Dohvolle

    A defence forces is not for civil and policing purposes. We did so because we were to cheap to arm our police appropriately. This has changed in the last 2 decades. Using Soldiers to guard cash and prisons is the act normally found in some banana republic. ATCP is not a normal peacetime military activity. ATCA may be, but that's very different.

    Dealing with crime is not a military PRIMARY task, and a military force should never be considered a standalone law enforcement force. We should not be designing vessels and orbats around ATCP taskings as a primary role. It should only ever be surplus capability.

    The army was hamstrung for decades because it's entire operational profile was designed around ATCP.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 1,916 ✭✭✭ronivek

    Which is more or less my point. Our Defence Forces are not a "military" by most measures. They are a product of a militarily neutral and geographically isolated country which has only ever treated its military as a civil defence, policing and counter-terrorism force; with the funding to match.

    If we genuinely want a capable military force then that can only realistically be accomplished in the context of a broader military alliance. We don't have the equipment, infrastructure, experience, or political impetus for a capable modern military. And that's even ignoring the amount of money it would require to modernise even with outside assistance.

    So to me the choice is:

    • Ireland remains militarily neutral with no domestic arms industry and no political necessity for a modern military. In which case call a spade a spade and laser focus on that remit and accept our Defence Forces are the Civil Defence Forces.
    • Ireland joins NATO (or some other EU or appropriate alliance) and modernises in that context. Hosting NATO/EU facilities built with NATO/EU funding, likely modernising and pumping funding into one or two areas such as naval/air/cyber.

    And to be clear I'm talking about systemic issues with the way the Defence Forces have been structured, used, and funded by successive governments; not making any judgements about the members who have to operate within that system.

  • Registered Users Posts: 243 ✭✭ancientmariner

    great ,full circle, CODF binned, last few out Board all the equipment and house the refugees.

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,320 ✭✭✭Dohvolle

    Neither option is realistic.

    Joining NATO isn't free. It would cost us more than even the most ambitious sums mentioned as a well equipped Neutral.

    A neutral state without a military become an occupied airbase in short time. Anyone who uses Costa Rica as an example of a Nation without military forgets that they sit within the defensive shadow of the US to the North, and the Numerous European military forces protecting the many islands east of them. They saw what happened in Grenada, when someone overthrew its govt, and brought foreign contractors to build an airbase. The US was in, defeated all opposition and occupied the island within 6 days.

    Ukraine has demonstrated that we could have no such assurances here. A nation in the process of becoming an EU member gets invaded by a neighbouring super power, and NATO sits on its hands.

    Ireland is an EU member that has actively resisted mutual EU security & defence. Why would anyone come to our aid?

  • Registered Users Posts: 4,491 ✭✭✭jackboy

    Who is going to invade us? Now that the Russian military is destroyed for decades to come we are safer than ever. Now if we were invaded, it would much likelier be by the EU or NATO (very remote chance) who we could not defend against anyway. Even if we bought some top class navy ships they would all be sunk in the first few minutes of an invasion. Any resistance would likely turn our population centres into Mariupol.

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,320 ✭✭✭Dohvolle

    What's the point of fire engines? My house never went on fire.

  • Registered Users Posts: 4,491 ✭✭✭jackboy

    A fire engine can put out a fire. Spending vast amounts of money on our military would not save us from invasion.

  • Registered Users Posts: 590 ✭✭✭Leonidas BL

  • Registered Users Posts: 4,491 ✭✭✭jackboy

    Ok, this analogy is confusing me now😂

    What I’m saying is I can’t see any benefit at all of spending lots of money beefing up our military to prevent invasion. Yes, in the future some superpower or military alliance may decide to invade us for some reason but if they do I can’t see us spending enough to make any difference. Maybe if some smaller country like Portugal or Denmark tried to invade us we could resist and win, but surely that is so unlikely that it’s not worth spending the money on.

  • Registered Users Posts: 590 ✭✭✭Leonidas BL

    So by doing our part within the EU, they will come to our aid in the future if something arises, just like it did in February when Russia decided they were going to play games inside our EEZ.

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  • Registered Users Posts: 298 ✭✭tippilot

    Just a thought, joining Nato could become a central point in the discussion on a united Ireland just like an NHS type universal health care system, new flag or national anthem. I can't imagine you would convince even fence sitting moderates to leave a secure defence umbrella in the short to medium term. It might just be one of those bitter pills the population will have to swallow.