The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon, UNIFIL, mission is the main overseas mission in which Defence Forces personnel are currently deployed with a total of 356 personnel. Brigadier General Patrick Phelan was appointed deputy force commander UNIFIL in April 2012.
The 106th infantry battalion, comprising some 332 personnel, deployed to UNIFIL in May 2012. The Irish battalion has been working alongside a contingent of 170 personnel of the Finnish armed forces as part of a joint Irish-Finnish battalion with effect from 1 June 2012. Both Ireland and Finland previously served together in the Lebanon mission in 2006-07 and more recently in the UN operation in Chad. A further 16 personnel are deployed to the force headquarters in Naquora and eight personnel at the UNIFIL sector west headquarters in Shama.
The joint Irish-Finnish Battalion is based in a sector west of UNIFIL’s area of operations, currently centred on the major towns of Tibnin and Bint Jubayl, and with two posts on the "Blue Line", which separates Lebanon and Israel. The battalion is tasked primarily with patrolling and occupying static posts while operating in close co-ordination and co-operation with the Lebanese armed forces in sector west of UNIFIL’s area of operations. The battalion’s mission is progressing well.
Following a review of the UNIFIL mission deployment by the force commander, the battalion is currently in the process of moving the Irish-Finnish battalion headquarters from current UN post 6-5 to UN post 2-45. UN post 2-45 is located south of Tibnin close to At Tiri in the centre of the Irish-Finnish battalion’s area of operations and closer to the observation posts manned by Ireland and Finland on the Blue Line. With this relocation, the battalion will be able to provide a more rapid response capacity to reinforce these posts should that be required. The move is expected to be fully completed during October 2012.
The security situation in the area in which the Irish-Finnish battalion operates remains calm but tense. The battalion implements force protection measures appropriate to the prevailing operational and security developments in the region. The security situation in Lebanon will continue to be kept under review by the Defence Forces.