120 Irish troops to join EU battle groupTuesday 28 September 2010 11.40
About 120 members of the Defence Forces, mostly from the Munster area, are taking part in exercises in Co Wicklow in preparation for their participation in an EU battle group next January.
The troops will be part of a 1,500 strong Nordic battle group, which will be on stand-by for six months for deployment at five days' notice to trouble spots around the world.
It is the second time Irish soldiers have been part of a battle group. They were previously involved in 2008.
The battle group concept was developed less than a decade ago to enable the EU to respond rapidly to emergencies and disasters.
They can be deployed to help stabilise crisis situations and contribute to humanitarian efforts.
This week's military preparations are taking place in the Glen of Imaal and further exercises will be held next week in Kilworth, Co Cork. The Irish soldiers will shortly undergo a month-long exercise in Sweden.
They will be providing a surveillance and reconnaissance contingent to the Nordic battle group, which will be on standby from January to June next year. Other countries participating in the group include Sweden, Finland, Norway and Estonia.
An additional 30 soldiers from Ireland will be based at the battle group headquarters in Sweden for the duration of the standby arrangement.
A second battle group will also be on standby during the same period.
The battle groups have yet to be called into action since their establishment.