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Update - ADF Contribution To Op Astute

Department of Defence Media Mail List

CPA 102/06
Sunday, 28 May 2006

Update - ADF Contribution To Op Astute

The Australian Defence Force (ADF) is continuing its rapid build up in Timor Leste. The arrival of HMAS Manoora yesterday and HMAS Tobruk today has delivered additional vehicles and logistics support, which has further enhanced the responsiveness of ADF forces.

The deployment under the command of Brigadier Michael Slater now includes approximately 1300 ground troops. Ground forces are actively engaged in security operations in Dili, including acting against outbreaks of communal and gang violence.

There are currently 3000 ADF personnel working in direct support of Operation ASTUTE. Of these, approximately 2000 are deployed in the Timor Leste area as part of the ground forces, air support element, or on supporting ships. The remainder are performing important support functions in places like Darwin, Townsville and Sydney.

As well as securing key areas in Dili, the Australian forces have continued to facilitate the evacuation of Australian and other approved foreign nationals. To date Australian forces have assisted in the repatriation of 491 Australians and other foreign nationals, while simultaneously continuing to provide a vital air bridge between Darwin and Timor Leste.

The ADF has successfully secured priority areas that include the Comorro Airport, the UN Headquarters and the Police Headquarters. ADF forces have also been deployed to the Presidential Palace and Parliamentary Complex to counter localised violence.

The Dili wharf precinct is secure and under ADF control. In securing the port a number of weapons from gangs in the area were confiscated. The weapons included hand-made knives, swords and small arms. Disembarkation of follow-on forces and equipment arriving by sea continues within the wharf precinct.

As well as direct military action, ADF personnel are visiting churches and other areas where displaced Timorese citizens have gathered for safety, to inform them of ADF intentions.

A current break up of key forces now deployed to Timor Leste includes:

* An Infantry Battalion Group based on the 3rd Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment;

* A Commando Company Group from the 4th Battalion (Commando), The Royal Australian Regiment;

* Eight Australian Army Black Hawk helicopters and crews;

* Two Royal Australian Navy Sea King helicopters and crews;

* The Amphibious Landing Ship HMAS Kanimbla is on station in Dili Harbour. It is able to provide medical, communications, accommodation and logistics support as required;

* The Amphibious Landing Ship HMAS Manoora and the Heavy Landing Ship HMAS Tobruk are in Dili Harbour. They continue to unload personnel and equipment, including armoured personnel carriers, trucks and associated support vehicles;

* The Landing Craft Heavy HMAS Balikpapan is situated to the north of Dili and her sister ship HMAS Tarakan is currently preparing in Darwin.

* Both the Guided Missile Frigate HMAS Adelaide and the Auxiliary Oiler HMAS Success have completed their assigned tasks and are returning to routine operations not linked to Operation
ASTUTE.

The rapid deployment of ADF forces to Timor results from the high state of readiness of ADF personnel and the effective preparations and pre-deployments during the previous three weeks.

A major logistics campaign is ongoing to ensure that the efforts of ground forces can be sustained.

DEFENCE MEDIA RELEASE


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