From: Defence Media Centre
Date: Wed 27/03/2013 8:22 PM

Australian personnel complete Timor-Leste operation

The Australian Defence Force has formally concluded Operation ASTUTE in Timor-Leste and has redeployed all troops and equipment to Australia.

Chief of Joint Operations, Lieutenant General (LTGEN) Ash Power said a small number of Australian Defence Force personnel returned home to Australia on 27 March 2013 marking the end of the Australian-led International Stabilisation Force.

The last commander of Joint Task Force 631, Lieutenant Colonel Mick Sasse, flew into Australia after the final handover of Australian bases to the Government of Timor-Leste.

Lieutenant General Power said the latest mission in the fledgling nation started on 25 May 2006 in response to a request from the Government of Timor-Leste and had been a success in restoring public order and stability.

“Personnel from Australia and New Zealand are proud of the part they have played in assisting the Timor-Leste security forces efforts to restore stability to their nation,” LTGEN Power said.

“Overall, the ADF is proud to have assisted the Timorese people in the quest for self determination and governance. We all look forward to continued strong relationships with Timor-Leste defence personnel into the future.

“Approximately 29,000 deployment orders have been issued to personnel, some multiple times, to Timor-Leste since operations in the young nation started with International Force East Timor (INTERFET) in 1999.

“Our personnel have done an outstanding job to build relationships based on mutual respect and have maintained a strong rapport with the people of Timor-Leste throughout our involvement since the first deployment to the country in 1999.”

The end of the operation was declared after the Helicopter Point of Disembarkation became the final base to be handed over this year to the Government of Timor-Leste [25 March 13].

Other bases to be handed over include the Aircraft Point of Disembarkation at Dili Airport on 18 March 2013 and the Forward Operating Base “Camp” Phoenix on 21 February 2013.

Australia’s three Army Black Hawk helicopters, four infantry platoons, 102 vehicles and more than 50 shipping containers of equipment have been returned to Australia since November 2012.

Other items including infrastructure and some vehicles have been gifted to the Government of Timor-Leste following significant consultation.

Australia will continue its strong security relationship with Timor-Leste through the Defence Cooperation Program, which will continue its mission to support the development of the Timor-Leste Defence Force.

A team of 24 Australian military and civilian personnel will remain in Timor Leste to provide training and mentoring support to the Timor-Leste Defence Force and the Secretariat of Defence.

Media contact:
Defence Media Operations: 02 6127 1999