Operation Helvetic is the operational name for the British Armed Forces' residual[1] operation in Northern Ireland from July 2007 to the present day.

Operation Helvetic
Date31 July 2007 – Present
Irish republican dissidents Ulster loyalist paramilitaries

Background edit

It was the successor operation to Operation Banner after the end of The Troubles.[2] It consists primarily of support from Ammunition technical officers for the Police Service of Northern Ireland against an ongoing threat of bomb attacks from republican and loyalist dissidents.[3] The operation is also intended to provide military support to the PSNI in the event of serious public disorder or an environmental crisis.[4]

At the start of the operation the total British army strength was approximately 5,000 soldiers in ten locations.[5] By 2018 this had reduced to around 1,300 troops[6] only for training purposes.[7] Thus far two British soldiers have been killed by republican paramilitaries during the operation, both killed in the 2009 Massereene Barracks shooting.

In 2016 ATOs serving as part of Operation Helvetic dealt with terrorist bomb alerts roughly once a week. Of these 49% were classified as "serious threats". The lack of a General Service Medal for ATOs serving as part of Operation Helvetic was the subject of controversy in 2017 following the rejection by the cabinet office of a request for the award of the GSM to ATOs from Andrew Rowe, Northern Ireland's most senior army officer.[1]

In 2018 the operation was the subject of a freedom of information request brought by the Committee on the Administration of Justice, which was seeking the disclosure of the terms of reference for Operation Helvetic.[8] The request was opposed by the UK ministry of defence on grounds of operational secrecy. Though the Information Commissioner's Office found against the MoD, the MoD plans to appeal the decision.

The cost of Operation Helvetic was approximately £1 billion a year in 2019. By 2019 increasing numbers of specialist troops were being deployed as part of the operation due to an uptick in the activity of Republican dissidents.[9]

References edit

  1. ^ a b Preston, Allan (7 February 2017). "Outrage as Northern Ireland bomb disposal heroes denied bravery medal". The Belfast Telegraph. Retrieved 12 December 2018.
  2. ^ Keenan, Dan (9 March 2009). "Timeline: army demilitarisation". The Irish Times. Retrieved 12 December 2018.
  3. ^ Young, Conla (31 July 2017). "Ten years since end of Operation Banner - and start of Helvetic". The Irish News. Retrieved 12 December 2018.
  4. ^ Van der Bijl, Nick (19 October 2009). "Chapter 16". Operation Banner: The British Army in Northern Ireland 1969 – 2007. Pen and Sword. ISBN 978-1473855045. Retrieved 12 December 2018.
  5. ^ Goldschmidt, Michael (19 September 2009). Marching with the Tigers: The History of the Royal Leicestershire Regiment. Pen & Sword. ISBN 978-1781598665. Retrieved 12 December 2018.
  6. ^ Young, Conla (31 July 2017). "Ten years since end of Operation Banner - and start of Helvetic". The Irish News. Retrieved 12 December 2018.
  7. ^ "The Troubles | National Army Museum". www.nam.ac.uk. Retrieved 2020-06-19.
  8. ^ Young, Conla. "MoD to challenge Operation Helvetic ruling". The Irish News. Retrieved 12 December 2018.
  9. ^ Clonan, Tom (22 January 2019). "The Derry car bomb is part of a dissident republican resurgence over the last decade". The Journal. Retrieved 10 February 2021.