Information Operations during Operation Stabilise in East Timor
When members of the Australian Defence Force deployed in September 1999 as part of the International Force East Timor (INTERFET), East Timor was an information vacuum. Information networks within East Timor itself were practically non-existent, and the only news service was provided entirely by the international media. This news vacuum presented a unique opportunity for the INTERFET forces and an ideal situation in which the Australian Defence Force could hone its skills in information operations.
This paper aims to capture the lessons learnt in order to refine future information campaigns. It discusses the nature of information operations, but does not seek to theorise about the concepts on which such operations are based; rather it presents a practical view of the conduct of the campaign itself. Information operations are a relatively new concept within the Australian Defence Force and remain shrouded in mystery for many. East Timor proved a valuable testing ground for a concept that has yet to find its doctrinal feet. The INTERFET information campaign was necessarily experimental and opportunistic in nature. While questions still surround the criteria for measuring its effectiveness, the conclusion of this paper is that the information campaign contributed to the success of Operation Stabilise.