Search our content

KFOR  /  Media Center  /  Archive  /  Chronicles  /  Chronicle 2022  /  Special Edition   /  Irish Soldier

Irish Soldier

As a serving Irish Army officer, it gives me a great sense of pride to introduce this Special Edition of the KFOR Chronicle which outlines Ireland's contribution to KFOR since 1999. This article focuses on the Irish soldier, their arrival in KFOR and some significant events that occurred within this theatre of operations. - Comdt. McDonnell

No one has ever became a soldier in order to become a full-time peacekeeper. A soldier is a warrior, whose primary skill is in the taking of life. To do that efficiently they must obey orders and accept the hierarchy that administers them. These ingredients – the ability to deliver lethal force and a culture of command and submission – enables armies to have other functions that are beyond the scope of most civilian organisations. One of these is peacekeeping, but this is a secondary role and it is one of the misfortunes of the Army of the Republic of Ireland, that this secondary duty is now widely perceived as its primary function. 

It most emphatically is not. Those who wear the uniform of the Republic of Ireland are its true embodiment. They are its soldiers, who accept lawful commands of the state in its protection and in its service. But what underwrites and enables these duties is the ability and willingness of the soldiers of the Republic to take life in its service, and to place their own in harm's way. 

Many men and women like danger. The truth is that large numbers of Irishmen, in the service of many states, have always courted death. This is one reason why Irishmen make great soldiers. But it is the willingness to obey and to use disciplined violence that transforms what might otherwise be a thrill seeking rabble into an army. And an army is only an army when its members enter a contract that is predicated on killing, and its associated skills. 

The many peacekeeping missions that the Irish Army has undertaken for nigh-on sixty five years has usually been free of the situation that invoke the killing contract. But that is in large part because armed locals who might otherwise be tempted to use force are usually in no doubt about the consequences if they do. In the absence of violence, a good army will display its martial skill in surrogate but very visible ways: vigilance, discipline, obedience and an easy confidence in the bearing of firearms. These are vital signals that prevent an armed but passive wittiness becoming an active player. 

When these messages fail to communicate their underlying purpose, or are ignored, the Irish peacekeeper must revert to their primary duty, the one he or she, by nature, likes best; that of being a soldier whose weapon safety catch is off, looking for a target. When this happens, the enemy will see a quite different soldier from the affable, smiling Irish person who was so obliging at roadblocks and who help the administer inoculations. This character will, if need be, kill you. 

Peacekeepers are not social workers with guns, through whom the local militia would drive with scorn. They can only keep the peace because they can also end it.

Search our content:


KFOR HQ Pristina
Camp Film City
10000, Pristina

Media Operations

Public Affairs Office
Camp Film City
10000, Pristina