From: Phil Pyke
Sent: Fri, Jun 26, 2015 at 10:53 AM

Forum Leadership Focus on OP Tamar

With two decades passing since Australia’s contribution to the United Nations Assistance Mission in Rwanda (UNAMIR), a seminar will be held to focus on elements of leadership over the period of OP TAMAR with a particular focus on the Kibeho massacre.

A Reflections on Leadership Seminar will be held at The Centre for Defence Leadership and Ethics at Western Creek on 06 August – being the 20th anniversary of the return of the second contingent.

OP TAMAR was Australia’s contribution to UNAMIR between July 1994 – March 1996 with 638 ADF members serving over this period with supply, medical, infantry, engineering, signals and supporting elements.

Around 20th April, 1995, members of the Australian contingent witnessed the massacre of thousands of internally displaced persons in the Kibeho refugee camp by the Tutsi dominated Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF).

Restricted by the UN Mandate and the Rules of Engagement, the Australian soldiers could only look on in horror as the massacre unfolded in front of them.

Under fire and often under the threat of the RPF, the Australians managed to set up a Casualty Evacuation station and conduct triage and treatment for the wounded Hutus. It was a response resulting in four Medals for Gallantry awarded – the first since Vietnam.

While debate remains as to how many people died in the massacre that horrific day, Australian reports counted 4050 but observed many more bodies. The Rwandan Government placed the count at 330 and the UN 2000.

OP TAMAR was reclassified to war-like service in 2006.

Coordinator LTCOL Bill Coates said it was important to revisit key events around Australia’s peacekeeping operations, such as Rwanda, as there were lessons to be remembered and retained including from those who assisted in the planning and conduct of ASC1 and ASC2.

“The seminar will focus on the leadership and ethical issues arising from the ADF’s commitment to Rwanda over both contingents, and at the Kibeho Camp massacre in particular, and the long term implications for Defence,” LTCOL Coates said.

The Centre for Defence Leadership and Ethics is coordinating the seminar, which will be facilitated by Air Commodore Tracy Smart, a doctor and a member of ASC 2.

“It will include presentations by members of both ASC1 and ASC2, including those directly affected by the events at Kibeho.”

The seminar will commence on 06 Aug at 1330h in the Blamey Theatre, Australian Defence College, Weston Creek, and conclude at 1730h.

Opportunities will arise for attendees to offer their personal experiences and to contribute to the discussions on the day.

The nature of the material being discussed may be confronting for some attendees, and support staff will be present for those who may wish to speak to them.

An informal gathering in the Weston Creek Mess at 1730h will follow the seminar. A dinner for those participants wishing to attend will commence in the Mess at 1830h, during which there will be a talk from a keynote speaker.


Contact Officer:
Lieutenant Colonel Bill Coates
Centre for Defence Leadership and Ethics
Mobile: 0488008929
Email: William.coates@defence.gov.au
Media contact:
Defence Media Operations (02) 6127 1999