HUNDREDS of Irish soldiers have entered the final stages of their training before they head to Lebanon on a peace-keeping mission.
The 123rd Infantry Battalion, which is made up of 334 Irish Defence Force Soldiers and nine Armed Forces of Malta soldiers, is in the final phase of preparation for their deployment to the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) next month.
They will arrive at a time of high tension in the region, which they deem a “volatile mission area”.
Violence has flared between Israel and Hezbollah militants in Lebanon following the conflict that has erupted in the Middle East due to the ongoing Israel-Hammas war.
The battalion, which features soldiers and officers on their first deployment as well as highly experienced senior Non-Commissioned Officers (NCOs) and commanders, is currently training in the Glen of Imaal, in Co. Wicklow.
During a mission readiness exercise held yesterday, commanders and soldiers faced a series of scenarios which reflected the current situation in the Middle East and were based on potential threats that they may encounter there.
During the session troops faced simulated explosive strikes, were asked to secure, extract and evacuate personnel and undertook anti-ambush tactics and detailed operational planning.
The group also fired three Javelin anti-tank missiles as part of the training.
A man-portable, ‘fire-and-forget’ anti-tank guided missile (ATGM) system, the Javelin is designed to defeat heavily armoured vehicles such as main battle tanks and lighter-skinned military vehicles.
It has a range of 2.5 km.
Speaking from Wicklow, Lieutenant Colonel Stephen Mac Eoin, commanding officer of the 123rd battalion, said his colleagues in Lebanon have described the current conditions as “tense”, but said his soldiers were “ready to go and do their job”.
They will deploy to south Lebanon in early November and take over duties from the 122nd Infantry Battalion who have been serving with UNIFIL since May.