The Irish government decided to deploy its elite counterterrorism unit to Mali as part of the United Nations (U.N.) peacekeeping effort in the region.

A team of 14 operators from the Army Ranger Wing (AWG), also known as the Irish Army Rangers, will be attached to the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission in Mali (MINUSMA). The AWG is an elite, “Tier 1” unit that specializes on Counterterrorism (CT), Hostage-Rescue (HR), Direct Action (DA), Counterinsurgency (COIN) and Special Reconnaissance (SR) operations.

The Irish SOF detachment will mainly conduct SR operations. It will be part of a larger German-led Special Operations reconnaissance and intelligence-gathering force that will roam the West African country in search of terrorist activities.

Paul Kehoe, the Minister of State at the Department of Defence – a junior position to the Defence Minister – said in a press statement that the Irish commandos’ deployment will secure stability in the war-torn region and “will be contributing to the security and stability of the wider G5 Sahel region. The region is a source of much criminality including people-trafficking and smuggling. Such criminal activities threaten security in the entire region and beyond, including the European Union.”