Kiwi Deployment To East Timor Continues Smoothly
The airlift deploying elements of the New Zealand Defence Force moved into its third day today. A further 69 personnel left RNZAF Base Ohakea for Darwin this morning on Air Force transport aircraft.
This evening, there will be 218 soldiers in Darwin preparing to move forward to East Timor. The complete personnel elements of New Zealand’s Mechanised Company Group, and four M113 armoured personnel carriers will be at Robertson barracks by early next week. The MV Edamgracht, a Dutch cargo ship is scheduled to sail for Darwin 30 September. Cargo will include 21 Armoured Personnel Carriers, 25 non- military vehicles and the remainder of equipment for the company group.
The two Air Force Hercules aircraft that have been operating between Darwin and East Timor as part of Operation STABILISE have been re-tasked to assist in the New Zealand Australia airbridge. These aircraft will arrive at Whenuapai at 1030 and 1130 pm tonight.
The Air Force helicopter detachment of 4 Iroquois and 100 personnel will begin deployment on Friday 24 September. One Iroquois, 21 personnel and stores and equipment will depart from Whenuapai on an Air Force Hercules at 0815pm on Friday.
HMNZS Canterbury is enroute to Darwin and is expected to arrive on 25 September. HMNZS Te Kaha remains off the coast of Eat Timor as part of the multinational naval force. Te Kaha’s Seasprite helicopter is undertaking a range of activities in support of the naval force including surface surveillance.
In Dili, New Zealand soldiers are working alongside forces from Australia and the United Kingdom to secure key facilities and open local liaison. There has been no resistance to the arrival of INTERFET forces, and Commander INTERFET, General Peter Cosgrove, is pleased that the operation is going smoothly as planned. Over the next several weeks, the force on East Timor is expected to swell to a coalition force of around 7000 as international troops become available. The New Zealand Mechanised Company Group will move to East Timor to join this coalition when called forward by the INTERFET commander. While at Robertson Barracks outside Darwin, the New Zealand soldiers will acclimatise, prepare equipment and exercise with Australian soldiers.