Connect December 2017

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visit us at O n my own behalf and that of the General Staff , I am delighted to extend season's greetings to the men and women of Óglaigh na hÉireann. I want to express my sincere gratitude to all members of the Defence Forces for your work and dedication over the past year. As we approach the Christmas season it is timely to refl ect upon the year gone by, and in doing so prepare ourselves for the New Year. 2017 has been a challenging year for the Defence Forces and its members. During my visits and town hall meetings at home and abroad in recent months, I have listened to many diffi cult personal stories, which resonated deeply with me. What I have learned in these visits and from various surveys in the main tallied with what I have heard from the Commanders on the ground. I want every member of the Defence Forces to know that we are addressing these challenges. We are already making real progress in a number of diff erent areas and I expect more progress in the New Year. As we face these challenges it is important to remember that Óglaigh na hÉireann is a key component of the Security architecture of our State, which underpins our sovereignty, strengthens our civil society and provides the military capability to defend Ireland and our assigned interests internationally. Domestically, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, Defence Forces' soldiers, sailors, and aircrew uphold our sovereign rights and support An Garda Siochána and the Civil Authorities, responding to natural disasters and other crises. Concurrently, Óglaigh na hÉireann continues to make a signifi cant contribution to international peace and security. Over 600 military per- sonnel are serving in twelve diff erent countries around the world and on one sea. Since 1958, the Defence Forces have a continuous presence on United Nations mandated peace support operations. This commit- ment to international peace sees around 1,500 personnel rotated annu- ally through the most troubled parts of the world. The Defence Forces contribution to Irish society is immense. Your professionalism, loyalty and dedication to your country and profession makes all this possible. Foremost in my thoughts during the Christmas season, are the mem- bers of Óglaigh na hÉireann who will be spending Christmas away from their families serving their country at home, or overseas in the cause of peace. I want to thank you for making this sacrifi ce and for your loyalty and devotion to duty. The role that your family and loved ones play in enabling your service abroad must also be commended, they too serve. Christmas is a time for us to remember those who have gone before us. We remember our former colleagues, former members, their families and friends who have died in the past year. Our thoughts and prayers are with their families and friends at this time. Go ndéana Dia trócaire orthú. In conclusion, I would like to thank every member of Óglaigh na hÉireann for your devotion to duty in 2017. I wish you and your families a safe and happy Christmas and best wishes for the New Year. Nollaig Shona daoibh go léir. Chief of Staff 's Christmas Message Christmas Message to Members of the Defence Forces from Paul Kehoe, T.D., Minister with Responsibility for Defence O n my behalf and that of all my Govern- ment colleagues, it is again an honour to wish you the members of the Defence Forces and your families a Happy Christmas and a peaceful New Year. As Minister with Responsibility for Defence, I have the opportunity to regularly witness the professional and dedicated commitment of the members of the Defence Forces as you go about your duties, and the justifi able pride you have in wearing the uniform of Óglaigh Na hÉireann, one of the oldest institutions of the State. In 2017, Defence Forces personnel were involved in wide and varied deployments overseas, which included the Mediterranean, Africa and the Middle East. Over 1,500 personnel were committed to overseas missions and a range of international organisations and national representations. I had the opportunity to visit Defence Forces person- nel operating under the UNIFIL and UNDOF mandates and was again impressed by the excellent work being done. I am aware that the Defence Forces consistently display this com- mitment to excellence in undertaking a broad range of tasks on a day to day basis across the Air Corps, Army and Naval Service. This included important Aid to the Civil Authority functions, from assist- ing the Principal Response Agencies to fi ght the gorse fi res in May, to mitigating the eff ect of the fl ooding in Donegal in August, Storm Ophelia and again for the recent fl ooding towards the end of Novem- ber. This work brings the members of the Defence Forces into direct contact with the civilian population, and you are a welcome sight for many people during their times of need. During this, the most family oriented time of the year, I would also like to send a special word of appreciation to the men and women of the Defence Forces who fi nd themselves serving abroad or on duty during Christmas. I sincerely thank their loved ones whose ongoing support is an invaluable contribution to enabling them to carry out their tasks. Féadfaidh aimsir na Nollag a bheith an-deacair dóibh siúd a chaill baill teaghlaigh i rith na bliana agus ba mhaith liom nóiméad a ghlacadh chun cuimhneamh ar phearsanra de chuid Óglaigh na hÉireann ar scor agus ar seirbhís a fuair bás in 2017, agus chun a rá lena dteaghlaigh go bhfuilim ag smaoineamh go mór orthu agus go bhfuilim ag guí ar a son. Tá súil agam go mbeidh sibh in ann méid áirithe sásamh a bhaint as an bhféile le linn na tréimhse saoire, agus geallaim daoibh nach bhfuil dearmad déanta ar bhur ndaoine muinteartha. Foremost in my thoughts at this time of year are the families, friends and colleagues of retired and serving personnel of Óglaigh na hÉireann who have passed away in 2017. I off er my heartfelt condolences and hope that you experience some of the joy of the Christmas season. Guím sonas agus sábháilteacht do chomhaltaí na bhFórsaí Co- santa agus da muintir an Nollaig seo agus san Áthbhlian. Go raibh maith agaibh. Finally, to all members of the Defence Forces and your families, I send best wishes for a peaceful, happy Christmas and every success in the New Year. COS Vice Admiral Mark Mellett Paul Kehoe, T.D. Minister with Responsibility for Defence

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