Home' Defence Magazine : Issue 3 2009 Contents 11
CHIeF oF tHe DeFenCe FoRCe’s ColuMn
he secretary and I have
recently returned from
Washington where we
accompanied the Defence
Minister, Joel fitzgibbon, and
foreign Minister stephen smith
to the annual AusMIN talks.
AUSMIN, which stands for the Australia-
United States Ministerial Consultations, is an
opportunity for our two governments to consult
on matters related to foreign policy and defence.
High-level discussions were held with United
States Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, Defense
Secretary Robert Gates, and Commander United
States Central Command General David Petraeus.
Defence discussions during AUSMIN were
focussed on efforts to stabilise Afghanistan and
how to prevent it from again becoming a base for
international terrorism. Australia reaffirmed its
commitment to winning the war against insurgents
in Afghanistan and we also welcomed the recent
decision by the United States to increase its troop
numbers in Afghanistan.
Minister Fitzgibbon and Secretary Gates also
welcomed the progress that both countries have
made on important enhanced defence cooperation
initiatives announced at AUSMIN last year.
These will allow our two countries to
work more closely together in responding to
humanitarian disasters in the Asia-Pacific region.
Minister Fitzgibbon and Secretary Gates
also agreed on principles for enhancing
our intelligence collaboration and cyber
cooperation; and an intelligence, surveillance
and reconnaissance partnership.
Overall, I am pleased to report that AUSMIN
was once again very successful. Our alliance with
the United States is critically important. Australia
and the United States are united through common
values and interests and, as demonstrated by
recent AUSMIN discussions, we continue to adapt
to meet new security challenges together.
On a separate note, I am pleased to be able
to report that great progress is being made in East
Timor. On 5-6 March 2009, Defence Minister Joel
Fitzgibbon, Veterans’ Affairs Minister Alan Griffin
and I were able to visit Australian Defence Force
men and women on the ground in East Timor.
During the two-day visit, we were very pleased to
note the advancements being made in East Timor
on many fronts.
The security situation remains calm, with
the indigenous security forces, both police
and military, making great strides in their
development. I was very encouraged by the
cooperation I saw between these two indigenous
security forces. The calm security situation has
also allowed the ADF efforts to refocus from
security related tasking to helping to build the
East Timor Defence Force’s (F-FDTL) capacity.
The Ministers and I met with senior East
Timorese political figures including President,
Jose Ramos-Horta, Prime Minister Xanana
Gusmao, and Chief of Defence Force (CDF)
Brigadier General Taur Matan Ruak. Issues we
discussed included the future ADF presence in
East Timor, maritime security assistance, United
Nations Police drawdown and subsequent
handover to the East Timorese police.
Importantly, we were also able to meet with
men and women serving with the International
Stabilisation Force (ISF). Earlier this year, the
number of troops deployed to Operation ASTUTE
was reduced from 750 to approximately 650 as
a result of the continuing security and stability
within East Timor. I was very impressed with all
the ADF people I met. They were enthusiastic
and dedicated, and I was very proud of the
way in which they were interacting with the
civilian population, consistently demonstrating
compassion, understanding and generosity.
They are working at a very high standard and
furthering our reputation as a reliable, highly
skilled and professional military force. I thank
them for their efforts.
More broadly, our Defence Cooperation
Program (DCP) is also contributing to
improvements in the security situation in East
Timor. The DCP is focussing its capacity building
efforts on continuing to provide training and
advice to the East Timor Secretariat of Defence
and the F-FDTL . The number of DCP advisers in
East Timor increased to 23 in January this year,
and will be focussing on aiding the F-FDTL during
its upcoming recruitment drive and in undertaking
A key event during our visit was the opening
ceremony for the DCP-funded Specialist Training
Wing (STW) at the Metinaro Training Base in
East Timor. This $6 million STW aims to provide
the F-FDTL with specialist training in the areas
of logistics, communications, medical skills and
engineering. Efforts to foster increased maritime
engagement though our DCP with East Timor
are also progressing, and are well supported by
a concurrent Armidale Class Patrol Boat (ACPB)
berth in Dili.
I was very pleased with this visit to East
Timor. As CDF, I was so proud of the way in which
all ADF people represented themselves and the
ADF. Australia remains committed to developing a
professional East Timorese Defence Force through
the continued provision of training, guidance and
support. Helping to build a solid, well-trained and
apolitical Defence Force for East Timor will create
the conditions necessary for enduring stability and
prosperity. Only then will our job be done.
Improving base accountability
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