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ADF: Change Of ISF Command In Timor-Leste

Change Of Command In Timor-Leste

The Minister for Defence, the Hon Joel Fitzgibbon MP today announced that Brigadier James Baker has been appointed as the next commander of the Australian-led International Stabilisation Force in Timor-Leste. He takes over from Brigadier John Hutcheson who has held the appointment since July 2007.

Based in Dili, Brigadier Baker is commanding almost 1000 Australian and New Zealand Defence Force personnel deployed in support of the Government of Timor-Leste and the United Nations Police. The role of the Australian and New Zealand troops - known as the International Stabilisation Force (ISF) - is to assist local authorities and the United Nations to provide peace and stability in the country following the civil unrest in 2006.

Brigadier Baker takes command of the ISF at a time when security within the country has dramatically improved. The situation is now allowing the ISF to assist communities across Timor-Leste by expanding into other tasks, including regional medical clinics and joint engineering tasks with the Timorese military, while still maintaining a security overwatch.

Brigadier Baker is a signals officer who has operational experience in the Middle East and is a former Commanding Officer of the Australian Army School of Signals. He is also a former instructor at the Australian Command and Staff College and has been on exchange with the US Army.

Mr Fitzgibbon thanked Brigadier Hutcheson for his command and leadership of the ISF over the past seven months.

Under his leadership, the Australian and New Zealand troops in Timor-Leste have worked hard and effectively to build an improving security situation in Dili and the surrounding districts.

The Australian contribution to the ISF is around 750 troops, of which the majority comprise the ANZAC Battle Group based on the Townsville-based 2nd Battalion of the Royal Australian Regiment. Supporting elements include Army aviation, logistics, armour, military police and engineers. About 180 New Zealand Defence Force personnel complete the force, including an infantry rifle company (attached to the ANZAC Battle Group) and Iroquois helicopters from the Royal New Zealand Air Force's No 3 Squadron.

The Minister congratulates Brigadier Baker on his appointment and wishes all personnel deployed in Timor-Leste continued success on their ongoing vital mission.

Brigadier Baker's biography is available at: http://www.defence.gov.au/opastute/default.htm

ENDS

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