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S 3 - Selected Defence Media Releases

The following material was extracted from http://www.defence.gov.au/media/index.html

Please note that Defence media release use the word 'peacekeeping' in a generic sense. ADF Operations in East Timor are either warlike service or non-warlike service under the VEA.

1999 - First Deployment of Australian Peacekeeping Contingent

Media Release

The Hon. John Moore, MP

Minister for Defence

19 September 1999

The Minister for Defence, John Moore, today welcomed the initial deployment of a 2,000-strong Australian peace-keeping contingent to East Timor.

Speaking at Lavarack Barracks in Townsville, Mr Moore said that the initial Australian Defence Force (ADF) presence in east Timor will build rapidly to a total of 4,500 personnel pledged by Australia for the United Nation's INTERFET peace-keeping force.

“The Australian contingent will join personnel from more than 12 other countries to form a combined force of at least 7,500,” Mr Moore said.

“Operational security considerations preclude me from releasing further details of the Australian forces and equipment being deployed. I can say, however, that our contingent represents the largest, single, overseas ADF deployment in a generation.

“Australia faces a difficult task in East Timor, but our personnel are going there with a clear objective: to help restore peace in East Timor.”

Mr Moore said the rules of engagement for the Australian contingent would authorise the force to not only to defend themselves, but to use appropriate levels of force to fulfil the mandate given by the UN.

“Our troops go into East Timor in the knowledge that they have the full support of the Australian Government and the Australian people,” Mr Moore said.

“Our thoughts are with all Defence personnel involved in the mission, their families and their loved ones.

“I know that all Australians wish them a successful mission and a safe return.”

2000 - Rotation of Army Units in East Timor

Media Release

The Hon. John Moore, MP

Minister for Defence

04 Feb 2000

The Minister for Defence, John Moore, today announced that Brisbane-based battalion, 6 RAR, will replace 5/7 RAR in East Timor at the end of April this year, as part of Australia's contribution to the United Nations' UNTAET force in East Timor.

"5/7 RAR is currently deployed with INTERFET in East Timor and will remain there as part of our contribution to UNTAET. It will be relieved at the end of April this year and return to Darwin," Mr Moore said.

"This sequence ensures that Ready Deployment Force capabilities are maintained until Townsville-based 2RAR units are reconstituted following their deployment to East Timor. It is then expected that 6 RAR will be replaced by Townsville-based 1 RAR at the end of October 2000.

"These deployments deliver on the Government's commitment to UNTAET, the Sydney Olympics and the Bougainville Peace Monitoring Group, and maintain Australia's ability to respond at short notice to other contingencies," said Mr Moore.

Australia has committed a maximum of 1600 personnel to UNTAET including headquarters staff, a battalion group, combat support and combat service support elements. The Government also has made an additional 400 logistic personnel available to UNTAET for a limited time beyond the transition period.

1 RAR is the current on-line Ready Deployment Force battalion based in Townsville. 6 RAR is one of two battalions being raised to full readiness, as a result of a Government decision announced in November last year. The other battalion, 4 RAR, based in Sydney, is expected to be ready for deployment by the end of this year.

3 RAR and 5/7 RAR are the currently deployed Australian battalions in East Timor. 3 RAR will be replaced by a Jordanian battalion and return to Sydney by the end of February 2000.

2001 - RAAF September 1999-March 2001

Between September 1999 and March 2001 the RAAF managed 17,000 flights, 7 million pounds of cargo and moved more than 200,000 passengers. No 386 Expeditionary Combat Support Squadron RAAF (386 ECSS) based at Richmond (NSW) were part of the Comoro Airfield Support Group (CASG) in East Timor. They were assisted by a Caribou detachment from No 38 Squadron at Amberley (QLD).

The RAAF personnel were responsible for air traffic control, fire fighting, communications, security cargo handling and aero medical evacuations< With the demilitarisation the RAAF role was taken over by a consortium of Portuguese contractors.

2002 - Australian Defence Force contribution to peacekeeping in East Timor

Media Release

Senator the Hon. Robert Hill

Minister for Defence

20 May 2002 -

The Australian Defence Force should be proud of their contribution to the peacekeeping force that has enabled East Timor to celebrate its independence today, according to Defence Minister Robert Hill.

There are currently about 5000 people involved in the United Nations peacekeeping force in East Timor, about 1400 of whom are Australian. It has been one of Australia's most significant military undertakings.

Australia is taking a lead role in supporting the development of the East Timor Defence Force (ETDF). Australia is providing support to the ETDF through specialist infantry training, military and general equipment, the development of purpose-built training facilities and communications infrastructure and Australian Defence Force advisory and training staff.

A substantial ADF contribution will continue to be deployed in the post-independence mission - the UN Mission of Support in East Timor (UNMISET). It is expected to last two years.

Senator Hill, who is in Dili for the celebrations, said the Australian Defence Force was proud to be involved in East Timor's achievements.

"Independence marks the start of a long and challenging path of nation-building for the East Timorese people," Senator Hill said.

"The task will not be an easy one. Australian Defence personnel have been instrumental in maintaining peace and security to provide a stable environment. They have done a fantastic job and it is important to recognise their efforts and the bond they have developed with the East Timorese people."

"Beyond UN military involvement, Australia will continue to provide support to East Timor's defence force and advice and assistance through our Defence cooperation program to help our newest neighbour achieve its aspirations."

2003 - The report Australia's National Security: A Defence Update 2003

26 February 2003

The people of East Timor, the world's newest nation, will need our support and assistance. East Timor faces daunting challenges, not least in establishing effective national institutions and a productive economy. These challenges will strain its capacity to address security challenges - which are largely internal. Australia is making a significant contribution to stability and development in East Timor through our development assistance and defence cooperation programs. We also provide approximately 25 per cent of the UN peacekeeping force, though our contribution will draw down over the next two years. Australia will continue to assist East Timor when the peacekeeping operation comes to an end.