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ADF Operational Update - Op Astute

Department of Defence Media Mail List

CPA 105/06 Monday, 29 May 2006

ADF Operational Update - Op Astute

The Australian Defence Force operation to support the people of Timor Leste is entering its fifth day with around 2000 ADF personnel deployed either on the ground or with supporting air and naval elements.

The situation on the ground in Dili remains dangerous. Armed groups are continuing to destroy property and threaten people. Australian, along with New Zealand and Malaysian troops are responding with appropriate force.

A strong Australian presence has been established in and around Dili with 1300 ground troops conducting security operations.

Additionally, a robust logistics and support network comprising over 1000 personnel located in Darwin, Townsville and Sydney is supporting the deployed force.

The Chief of the Defence Force, Air Chief Marshal Houston, said the rapid deployment of this large ground force was a remarkable achievement.

"It highlights the professionalism and adaptability of our people and the high degree of readiness of our Defence force," he said.

"Australian forces are now working closely with the Timorese Government, the Timor Leste Defence Force and other deployed forces to continue to stabilise the security situation on the ground and facilitate the separation of the various conflicting groups back into safe and secure locations.

"The ADF is working closely with the Government of Timor Leste and non-Government aid agencies to help the innocent victims of this crisis.

"The most effective way the ADF can help, is to quickly stabilise the security situation, which remains our first priority. This will enable other Government and non-Government agencies such as the Police and AusAID, to move freely so that they can perform their required function.

"The Australian Task Force continues to expand its area of influence and control, and is disarming and countering attempts to delay or obstruct the re-establishment of law and order for the people of Timor Leste.

"This is the job at hand for Brigadier Slater and his Task Force, one that will be conducted with the same high degree of professionalism as displayed by all our deployed forces across a range of operations both at home and abroad.

"I am very proud of the ADF men and women on the ground in Timor Leste and what they have been able to achieve since their rapid deployment just days ago," Air Chief Marshal Houston said.

The Australian deployment to Timor Leste followed the receipt of a formal request for military assistance to the Australian Government on Wednesday evening (24 May).

Following the immediate approval of this request the Vice Chief of the Defence Force, Lieutenant General Ken Gillespie, travelled to Timor Leste early on Thursday (25 May) to negotiate the terms and conditions of the ADF deployment.

The forward element of the Australian force, consisting of a company group from the 4th Battalion (Commando), The Royal Australian Regiment, arrived concurrently with Lieutenant General Gillespie. They quickly secured Comorro Airfield, which enabled the follow on force to establish a presence in Dili and then fan out across the city.

Operational update - past 24 hours:

The Australian Defence Force's mission remains to assist the Government of Timor Leste to:

* facilitate evacuation of Australian and other approved foreign nationals;

* stabilise the security situation and facilitate the concentration of the various conflicting groups back into safe and secure locations; and

* create a secure environment for the conduct of a successful dialogue to resolve the current crisis.

The Australian Defence Force (ADF) is continuing its rapid build up in Timor Leste.

ADF ground forces are conducting an increasing number of patrols throughout Dili following the arrival of extra vehicles from HMAS MANOORA and HMAS TOBRUK. These vehicles have further enhanced the responsiveness of ADF forces.

Ground forces remain actively engaged in security operations in the Timor Leste capital, which has included the suppression of communal and criminal gang violence. Patrols have confiscated in excess of 200 weapons to date.

The Australian Commander Brigadier Slater is establishing critical Liaison and Communications Teams (CMT) with key parties in Dili, which is enhancing the ADF's ability to communicate with disparate factional groups.

As well as securing key areas of 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 over 500 Australians and other foreign nationals while simultaneously continuing to provide a vital air bridge between Darwin and Timor Leste.

Overnight (Sunday) a RAAF C-130 aircraft successfully conducted a medical evacuation of eight injured Timor Leste nationals (including a 12 month old child).

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;

* C-130 Hercules aircraft and crew to transport people and equipment.

* Eight Australian Army Black Hawk helicopters and crews;

* Two Royal Australian Navy Sea King helicopters and crews;

* A detachment of Royal Australian Air Force, Air Field Defence Guards at Comorro airfield;

* The Amphibious Landing Ship HMAS Kanimbla, is on station in Dili Harbour providing medical, communication, accommodation and various support facilities 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;

* Landing Craft Heavy ship 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 Australian forces into Timor Leste is the result of the high state of readiness of ADF personnel and the effective preparations and pre-deployments during the previous three weeks.


© Scoop Media

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