Wednesday 25 Nov 2020 | 02:01 | SYDNEY
Wednesday 25 Nov 2020 | 02:01 | SYDNEY

Email of the day: What the Timor reinforcements are for


Sam Roggeveen


13 February 2008 13:43

Erin Maulday responds to Hugh White's criticism of the Rudd Government's decision to deploy additional troops and police to Timor:

Rudd’s response is cautious and appropriate. The troops that have deployed are likely to be Army’s Ready Company Group (RCG), a 150-odd force that is always on extremely short notice. It is exactly these types of situations that they are deployed to. The last example was in Tonga in late 2006, although this situation is different. In East Timor, this RCG will no doubt bolster the security patrolling pattern of the existing International Stabilisation Force (ISF) commitment.

I would guess that the ISF is not sufficiently staffed to be able to conduct an aggressive patrolling campaign in support of the search for the attackers, without stretching their current commitments. So an RCG deployment will be quite useful as well as being a tangible display of Australia’s commitment to East Timor. They are after all a very close neighbour whose President has been shot.

The important part of the announcement, though, is the 50-70 additional Australia Federal Police. It demonstrates how the Rudd Government views Australia’s security engagement in our immediate region. East Timor is a law and order issue. In the long term, it is better to use police assets than military assets to help achieve internal security there. Hopefully, the basis of this announcement has come directly from advice given by Defence. If we start seeing announcements of large-scale troop deployments, then we can start getting worried – but not by this announcement. Rudd is playing this one perfectly.