Archive for January 21, 2011
On the Job Training
Australian Army Reserve Private Luke Goodwin (right) points out the arcs of fire to Lance Corporal Alex Alex Tyler during an exercise as part of the Junior Leadership Course conducted recently for troops serving with the International Stabilisation Force (ISF) in East Timor.
Thirty-two Australian Army Reserve (Ares) soldiers were able to complete the Junior Leaders Course Modules 1 and 2 in one block over the Christmas holidays, speeding up their promotion track over the usual two or more years for part-time soldiers.
The course included operational planning and training while the reservists were serving with the ISF, an Australian-New Zealand peace keeping mission on the island nation, officially known as Timor-Leste, at the far eastern end of the Indonesian archipelago.
Goodwin says there were benefits to doing the course overseas. “Back home you are familiar with your surroundings,” he said, adding: “Here there is different terrain and different vegetation, and we can still be recalled at a moment’s notice to support our [ISF] operation.”
An Australian-led international peace-keeping force was dispatched to East Timor in 1999 after widespread violence broke out following a vote for independence from Indonesia, which forcefully occupied East Timor in 1975.
When additional violence broke out in 2006, Australian peacekeepers returned after the government of Timor-Leste requested the creation of a multi-national security force (ISF) to assist with stability operations. The ISF currently consists of approximately 470 personnel from the Australian and New Zealand Defence Forces. The force is currently led by the Australian Army’s Col. Mick Reilly, with Wing Commander Samuel Leske of the Royal New Zealand Air Force serving as deputy commander.
The ISF was expected to withdraw after national elections in 2012 but Timorese news outlets say Timor-Leste Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao favors an earlier pull-out, according to The Australian newspaper. And a report by the Geneva-based International Crisis Group urges Australia to set a date for withdrawing its forces from Timor- Leste because the security situation has improved and the ISF is so small it no longer goes out on patrol at the local government’s request, the newspaper reported last month.