Defence Forces


The Defence Forces are the armed forces of Ireland. They consist of 3 Permanent Defence Forces and a Reserve Defence Force. The permanent forces are:

  • The army
  • The air corps
  • The naval service

The President is the supreme commander of the Defence Forces. Defence Forces officers are commissioned by the President, while the Minister for Defence acts on the President’s behalf and reports to the Government. The Chief of Staff is Lieutenant General Seán Clancy.

The Defence Forces’ headquarters are in Newbridge, Co. Kildare.

The roles of the Defence Forces

The roles of the Permanent Defence Forces are set out in the Government White Paper on Defence. They are:

  • To defend the State against armed aggression
  • To assist the Garda Síochána when requested
  • To participate in peacekeeping missions in support of the United Nations
  • To contribute to maritime security, including the delivery of a fishery protection service
  • To provide ceremonial services on behalf of the Government

For more information on the Defence Forces, visit their website.

Permanent Defence Forces

The 3 services of the Permanent Defence Forces are:


The army is the largest service in the Defence Forces. It organises and trains ground forces and air defence units to carry out all roles assigned by the Government. There are two brigades or subdivisions of the army, one based in Cork and the other in Dublin. There is also a training centre based in the Curragh Camp, Kildare.

Air Corps

The air corps is the air component of the Defence Forces and is based at Casement Aerodrome, Dublin. It organises and trains airborne command and control units. The primary role of the air corps is to support the army in maintaining the security of the State. It is also responsible for the Ministerial Air Transport Service which provides air transport for the President and Government.

Naval Service

The naval service, or navy, protects the State at and from the sea. It is based on Haulbowline Island in Cork. Among its duties are to defend the State’s territorial seas, conduct maritime surveillance and provide a specialist diving team.

For information on a career in the Permanent Defence Forces, visit their website.

Reserve Defence Force

The Reserve Defence Force is a part-time volunteer force. Its primary role is to increase the capacity of the Permanent Defence Force to carry out its roles in crisis situations. In non-crisis situations it trains to carry out this duty. It is made up of 3 services:

  • First Line Reserve
  • Army Reserve
  • Naval Service Reserve

The Reserve Defence Force also provides logistical support, armed escorts and performs ceremonial duties at State events. For further information on the Reserve Defence Force, visit their website.

Further information and contacts

Defence Forces Headquarters

Station Road
W12 AD93

Page edited: 12 July 2022