Force Reserve Company (FRC) Medal Parade - 25 Sept 2020
On the 25th September 2020, Irish Defence Forces soldiers serving with the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) in Syria were presented with their UNDOF service medal by Force Commander UNDOF, Major General Ishwar Hamal. The 129 personnel of the 61st Infantry Group which deployed to Camp Faouar on the Golan Heights last April provided the mission with the Force Reserve Company, a highly robust, mobile and mechanised element which constitutes a Quick Reaction Force (QRF) capable of responding to any incident throughout the UNDOF area of operations 24/7. The 61st Infantry Group carried out many operations during their tour of duty ranging from Area Domination Patrols (ADPs) to the search and clearance of UNDOF positions and routes with suspected ERW/UXOs (Explosive Remnants of War, Unexploded Ordnance).
The members of 61st Infantry Group have between them accumulated over 300 previous individual tours of duty overseas spanning a wide range of missions across the globe including; UNTSO (Middle East), UNDOF (Israeli Occupied Golan and Syria), UNIFIL (Lebanon), SFOR (Bosnia), KFOR (Kosovo), EUFOR (Bosnia), EUTM (Mali), MINURCAT (Central African Republic and Chad), EUFOR (Chad), EUTM (Somalia), INTERFET+UNTAET (East Timor), UNMIL (Liberia), ISAF (Afghanistan), EU NBG Sweden, UNMEE (Ethiopia and Eritrea), UNAMIR (Rwanda), Irish Honduran Support Group (IHSG). A total of forty-two individuals deployed on their first tour of overseas duty which equates to 31% of the 61st Infantry Group personnel.
Separately, on 2nd October 2020, forty-two members of the 61st Infantry Group on their first tour of duty were presented with their United Nations peacekeepers medal. In 1989 the medal to be known as “The UN Peacekeeper’s medal” was introduced in the Irish Defence Forces. It may be awarded to a member or former member of the Irish Defence Forces who qualifies or has qualified for the award of a medal in respect of service with the United Nations mission or United Nations mandated mission and who is otherwise eligible for the award of the UN Peacekeeper’s medal. The United Nations peacekeepers medal is presented to serving Irish Defence Forces at the end of their first tour of duty overseas in a UN mission and is a significant milestone in a soldier’s career. Medals were presented to the forty-two first-timers by DFC, UNDOF Brigadier General Maureen O’Brien in a short ceremony at FRC HQ, Camp Faouar. The unit rotated on the 7th October 2020 with the 62nd Infantry Group replacing the 61st as the Force Reserve Company following a successful six month tour of duty.