A national exercise evaluation of the Irish Defence Forces is taking place in Kilworth Camp in Cork this week, under the supervision of NATO.
The 1 Brigade Artillery Regiment is being assessed by NATO to ensure that its tactics, techniques and procedures are in line with best practice and prescribed NATO standards.
The military exercise evaluation is part of NATO’s Operational Capability Concept programme, a voluntary programme that the Irish Defence Forces have been involved in since 2016.
Involvement with the programme is primarily about standardisation of equipment and procedures, and the Irish Defence Forces have already had three exercise evaluations involving our land, maritime and special forces.
“OCC is designed to assist those NATO partner nations who aspire to improve their national militaries by measuring their performance against a wide catalogue of NATO standards,” said a spokesperson for the Irish Defence Forces.
“A nation which engages in NATO OCC military exercise evaluation is improving its overall military capability, is reinforcing its force protection measures and is ultimately strengthening its national defence,” they added.
This week, from 6 to 9 June, the 1 Brigade Artillery Regiment conducted a Defence Forces led self-evaluation known as a ‘SEL’.
They will continue their training until November, when they will undergo a NATO led evaluation known as an ‘NEL’.
This evaluation will be led by NATO Joint Force Command Brunssum (JFCBS), located in the Netherlands, which has geographical responsibility for Ireland.
A Combat Engineering Company is next to be evaluated in 2023, and an Infantry Company will undergo the process in 2024.
Ireland’s role as a NATO partner dates back to 1999 when Ireland joined NATO’s Partnership for Peace (PfP) programme and the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council.
The Defence Forces spokesperson said that participation in PfP is “seen as fundamental to Ireland being able to meet its obligations in providing professional peacekeepers for international crisis management and peacekeeping operations mandated by the UN, and in enhancing the Defence Forces’ interoperability with other professional military forces”.
Cooperation between NATO and Ireland is governed by Ireland’s Individual Partnership and Cooperation Programme (IPCP), which is jointly agreed for a two-year period.
Ireland is currently a participant in a NATO led and UN mandated PSO mission in KFOR (Kosovo).