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Primary Responsibilities And Primary Risks: Australian Defence Force Participation in the International Force East Timor

INTERFET troops from Three Brigade land at Suai, in the South West corner of East Timor. Hundreds of troops from the Townsville based Third Brigade were moved from Dili onboard HMAS Tobruk to set a permanent security presence in the border town.
31 October 2000
Dr Alan Ryan

The deployment of an International Force to East Timor on 20 September 1999 under the command of Major General Peter Cosgrove marked an important step in international peace enforcement in the Asia-pacific. For the first time Australia provided lead-nation command to a significant multinational force comprising twenty-two contributing countries - including many regional powers.

Providing the largest contingent and assuming the main responsibility for mounting and supporting the operation, Australia made a significant investment in returning peace and stability to east Timor. By the time it concluded operations in 2000, INTERFET was arguably the most successful example of a peace mission ever conducted on behalf of the United Nations.

Drawing on interviews with Australian and international military personnel involved in raising, deploying and commanding the coalition in East Timor, this monograph considers how the Australian defence Force contributed to resolving the crisis. It critically assesses the lessons that can be derived from the experience. As a good international citizen Australia will probably have to commit forces to similar operations in the future. Primary Responsibility and Primary Risks provides an inside view of the performance of the Australian defence Force when confronted with the greatest challenge since the Vietnam War.

Last updated
21 December 2017
Army: Courage. Initiative. Respect. Teamwork.
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