Home' Defence Magazine : Issue 4 2009 Contents 46
n 1947, four australian
Defence Force officers
became the world’s first formal
peacekeepers when they were
deployed to the Dutch east
Indies under the un commission
in Indonesia (uncI). It was the
start of a continuous commitment
by australia to peacekeeping
operations across the globe.
Today, more than 1000 military, police and
civilian personnel from a number of Government
agencies are deployed around the world continuing
this fine tradition. Regrettably 12 Australians have
died whilst on peacekeeping operations and many
have been injured.
In 2006, a committee was formed in response
to growing community desire to erect a national
memorial to commemorate the courage, sacrifice,
service and valour of Australian peacekeepers,
past, present and future.
Committee membership includes
representatives from the ADF, the AFP and serving
and veterans’ associations from around Australia
with a charter to build the memorial. The Federal
Government donated the first funds towards the
cost and allocated a site for the memorial on Anzac
Parade in Canberra.
Working with the National Capital Authority,
the committee commissioned a national
competition to seek a suitable design. The
response was excellent and four contenders were
invited to develop their designs further.
In December 2008, the Minister for Veterans’
Affairs, the Hon Alan Griffin MP, announced that the
design submitted by Sydney-based architectural firm
Super Colossal had won the competition.
Since then the design has been refined to a
production stage, with tendering documentation
being prepared at no cost by Australian project
management firm Woods Bagot. By mid 2009
the project will be ready to seek tenders for the
construction of the memorial.
Principal architect Marcus Trimble said the
design is that Australian peacekeepers interpose
themselves between belligerent parties, shedding
light, comfort and hope to the communities that
are affected by the violence and tension.
“As visitors walk through the passage of light
they may be reminded of deep canyons in the
Australian outback, with towering walls but the
uplifting blue sky above. They may feel the warmth
and comfort of the light between the two imposing
monoliths,” Marcus said.
The chairman of the project committee, Major
General (rtd) Tim Ford AO, said the memorial has
two main elements.
“The first is a glowing passage of light that is
a powerful entry for the memorial. The passage is
between two massive monoliths, raised slightly off
the ground. They make up a monumental structure
that is the right size for Anzac Parade. The
pathway between the two polished cubes glows
with an intense golden light. This light evokes the
Australian peacekeepers’ role and their help to
Visitors then come to the second main
element of the memorial, a courtyard of intimate
size and feel, surrounded by Australian trees.
Written in the pavement are words evoking the
qualities and sacrifice of Australian peacekeepers
and across the back will be a long horizontal
beam recording the many peacekeeping missions
in which Australians have served. Beneath the
beam will be an inclined plane to receive wreathes
and other mementoes. This inner space will be
suitable for both formal ceremonies and smaller
scale commemoration. It will also be a place of
quiet reflection on personal experiences and the
significance of peacekeeping.
The project committee hopes to have the
memorial erected during the next 12 months, but
before calling tenders for its construction it will
need to have raised the necessary funds. To date,
a number of companies have made significant
donations, as have many serving and veterans’
groups and private individuals, but more is needed.
Memorial to shine
light on peacekeepers
By Graham Rayner
AustRALIAn PeACekeePIng MeMoRIAL
aBoVe: artist’s impression of the memorial on anzac Parade in canberra.
ir commodore Tim owen
recently completed a
memorable deployment to
the middle east as Deputy
commander of Joint Task
Force 633, where he shared
responsibility for all australian
Defence Force elements assigned
to operations catalyst in Iraq and
slipper in afghanistan. he also played
an important role in the drawdown
of australian forces in Iraq as the
country moved to self-governance.
Defence Magazine caught up with AIRCDRE
Owen upon his return to Australia before posting
into Air Force Headquarters as Director General
Strategy and Planning – Air Force.
how did your previous experience
assist in your role as Deputy
commander of Joint Task Force 633
in the middle east?
I’ve commanded at Wing level and as well
as Force Element Group level. So I drew on that
experience in understanding what is required
from a national command level down through an
operational command level, down to the tactical
piece. I think having done a very senior command
is always a very useful part of the business in
terms of being able to understand what the
requirements are going to be.
In the first few months of the deployment I
was Deputy Commander Joint Task Force Iraq.
That was pretty much a matter of closing down our
operations in Iraq and getting the memorandum
of understanding squared away, so we left with a
level of coverage for our troops.
In Iraq, there was a level of security in the
country where people could get on with day-to-day
business. People could lead a relatively normal
life and electricity was starting to be provided
on a regular basis and it is becoming something
that would resemble what we are used to in the
western world. And I think that was a significant
change. Essentially, the elected government could
stand on its own two feet and provide the level of
services and infrastructure to the population that
they really hadn’t been able to before. That was
really the end game for us.
how has your time in the air Force
helped you in this deployment?
It was the first opportunity I’ve had to deploy
in a senior position on joint operations.
I found my senior command positions to be
the best thing and the interaction that allowed
me to have with other senior commanders and
personnel within Army and Navy.
In Iraq I would spend a lot of time with senior
US commanders and staff within the US-led multi-
national force in Iraq. So you would be liaising
with everyone from the intelligence, ops and the
plans staff on a daily basis and attending all of the
I think Australians tend to punch above their
weight a lot and be much more generalist and
capable across a whole breadth of skill sets. We
have, to a man, very high performers in our embedded
positions. The US and Iraqis were very grateful of the
quality of people we were providing in particularly
demanding and important staff positions.
What were some of the highlights of
One of the major highlights is the general
feeling that we as an ADF do the job particularly
well. I took a lot of pride as a senior staff officer/
deputy commander in looking at the guys and girls
in the Navy, Army and Air Force at a tactical level.
The quality of the people we send and the work
they do and their ability to relate to the Iraqis and
Afghans is something that I don’t think a lot of
forces are able to bring to the table at the same
level we are.
I enjoyed being part of a major war-fighting
operation. But the big thing I took away was the
quality of the young kids we have over there –
they’re bloody brilliant actually.
Did you bring back any lessons
If I can be a little controversial, I don’t think
we have all the enablers we needed to go in there
and do the job in a holistic way. We can't bring
every capability to the table, but if we are going
to support a significant ground manoeuvre force
that is doing reasonably high-grade offensive
operations in Afghanistan, as well as some of
the work the special forces are doing against the
senior insurgent leadership, then we really need
to do this with the whole package. We need to
bring a strong niche capability to the table without
having to rely on coalition partners for other
capabilities when they are available because there
are times when you get very short notice to do
something and if you don’t have this key enabler,
then you can’t do it.
What are some of the things australian
forces are doing really well in the
middle east area of operations?
In Afghanistan, it comes back to our ability
to interact with the locals. I think we have a lot
better relationship with local people than most of
the other coalition forces. Particularly, what we do
in the Tarin Kowt bowl such as the trade training
work and providing skill sets and then leveraging
off those skill sets. For instance, when we were
looking to build something we would employ
Afghan contractors and would very strongly
encourage them to employ the younger kids we
have put through our trade training schools. It
gives them a viable lifestyle.
We also partner very well with the Afghan
security forces and particularly with the OMLTS
[Operational Mentoring and Liaison Teams], who
are held up as shining examples of how to do
In the Air Force, there’s no doubt we have
very responsive airlift and our AP-3Cs are doing
an absolutely outstanding job in the overland ISR
role. Overall, Navy, Army and Air Force do a really
For a very small defence force, I love to quote
what Air Marshal Geoff Shepherd [former Chief
of Air Force] used to say: "We’re little, but we’re
not little league". We’re a small force but we can
play with the big boys and can very easily plug into
the highest level of capability that any military in
the world can bring to the table without having to
re-learn completely how we do our business.
tHe LAst woRD
air commodore Tim
owen enjoys the sunset
over the national
in Baghdad, Iraq, during
his time as Deputy
commander Joint Task
Force 633. Photo: CPL
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