nettimes_digestive_system on Tue, 12 Oct 1999 19:13:07 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> East Timor Digest (SAS present since April, border skirmishes and news items)

[moderators note: its interesting how the mainstream media coverage is now
focussed on 'our diggers' and their skirmishes with militia rather than
the East Timorese. However I do have to congratulate the discipline the
falantil guerrillas have shown in avoiding konfrantasi.  Australia and its
partner the US might have bought as the price for the liberation of East
Timor, a potentially destablised south east Asia. Its clear that
Indonesia's democratic reforms have to defeat its reactionary military
elements before these elements manage to create a credible security threat
for Interfet. I wonder about Australia's position here; the Deputy Dawg
stance of the 'Howard Doctrine' might land it in hot water to the point it
is forced to ask for the help of the US; a choice for that Howard should
not to be so sure of. Certainly he should be watchful that the UN doesn't
tie Interfet's hands in its ability to deal with Indonesia incursions. 
People interested in UKUSA may wish to ponder the kerfuffle the US is
making over the denial of access to some Australian intelligence on the
basis it would reveal sources. The media in Australia however, have
generally turned this into a major patriotic exercise.]

    for e.timor digest


Elite forces scouted island from April
Date: 11/10/99

By IAN HUNTER, in London

Australian special forces and navy divers were scouting the terrain of
East Timor and Indonesian forces deployments inside the territory months
before the actual landing of United Nations-approved peacemakers last
month, a senior Australian defence source has revealed. Members of the
elite Perth-based Special Air Services Regiment and the Royal Australian
Navy's Clearance Diving Team (CDT) have been operating clandestinely on
the island since early this year. 

The sole task of the two elite units was reconnaissance in preparation for
a large Australian Defence Force (ADF) deployment. 

The SAS's principal subjects have been infrastructure in and around Dili,
Indonesian ground force operations in the hinterland and movements of
military traffic across the West Timor frontier. CDT divers scoured Dili
harbour and nearby anchorages for anti-shipping mines, explosives and
traps.  They also surveyed nearby sites in case an amphibious landing
became necessary. From the shore they scouted for Indonesian military
(TNI) and militia obstacles and deployments. 

The two units train together off the coast near Perth. While the SAS,
whose strength is put at "over 500" by the Defence Department, stayed at
Swanbourne for the Gulf War, the CDT performed Timor-style work in Kuwait
during that conflict. Their orders did not authorise offensive strikes,
interdiction or sabotage. Deployed by submarine and extracted by
helicopter, they were inserted when the Prime Minister put the
Darwin-based 1 Brigade on 28-day standby in April. 

Although the helicopter flights were made at extremely low level to avoid
detection by radar, the TNI did make it known in June that it was aware of
unauthorised intrusions, though it suspected the flights involved covert
weapons shipments to independence fighters. 

On June 9, the Indonesian armed forces commander, General Wiranto, ordered
increased naval and air surveillance off the East Timor coast after five
helicopter flights were reported in May and June. 

The then East Timor military commander, Colonel Tono Suratman, said there
had been two helicopter landings in the area of Larinkuten, near Viqueque,
of a large helicopter similar to the French-designed Puma. At the same
time as the helicopter landings were reported, a vessel with a helicopter
landing pad had also been sighted off East Timor's coast, he said. 

The description fits with the Seahawk helicopters operated from RAN

The covert operations before the creation of the Interfet force are
classified secret and will remain so under the Federal Cabinet's 30-year

A senior ADF special forces and intelligence officer recently said the
small force was observing Indonesian military activity as a necessary
precursor to full-scale deployment. The same tactics were used by the
British SAS during the 1982 Falklands and 1990-91 Gulf wars. 

In July the same officer was saying that the official outlook was that the
ADF would deploy shortly and that ensuing peacekeeping and United Nations
stabilisation plans would be similar to those effected in Cambodia in

At that time, he said that ADF headquarters in Canberra expected the
eventual UN-sponsored intervention force to be small and include only a
minimal armed security force. ADF planning did not anticipate an
Australian component as large as 4,500 personnel. 

The SAS and CDT cells transmitted constant reports on TNI and militia
activities to ADF headquarters and the ultra-secret Defence Signals
Directorate (DSD), also in Canberra. Only 20 or so people, including the
Prime Minister, were allowed access to these reports and attached
assessments. Most members of Cabinet have not seen them. The job of the
DSD has been to analyse the reports and conclude whether the recent
atrocities were a sustained policy of terror or a violent reaction to
impending independence. 

The SAS cells, comprising no more than five troopers, would never have
been in a position to intervene. Such operations would have required the
support of the SAS's Sabre Squadron, which has not seen action since the
Vietnam War. 

In armed contact with the TNI and militia, the general observations,
technical descriptions and assessments of TNI capabilities in Timor have
been invaluable. 

Major-General Peter Cosgrove, the Interfet leader, inadvertently referred
to the ongoing reconnaissance recently when he said he was interested to
read reports of what the TNI and militia groups were doing in remote and
border areas. The covert surveillance gave the ADF the most comprehensive
intelligence survey of the Indonesian military and paramilitary activity
as the East Timor situation deteriorated mid-year. This has been
uncomfortable knowledge in one respect. United States agencies have
complained to the Australian Ambassador, Mr Andrew Peacock, about being
denied access to Australian reports because they were known to be much
more detailed than anything Washington had. 

Mr Peacock declined to forward the reports because the names and
operational deployment details would be compromised. 

The US has its navy and the CIA watching the zone. Los Angeles class
submarines are capable of positioning pods called Ivy Bells on underwater
communication links. After a month or two they are retrieved and then

They are believed to have been listening to TNI traffic for as long as the
SAS has been on the island. 

Story Picture: Daring to win ... Australian Special Forces soldiers during
an exercise. 

This material is subject to copyright and any unauthorised use, copying or
mirroring is prohibited. 


TNI defectors 'train militia to kill diggers'
Date: 11/10/99

Singapore: Pro-Indonesian militias in West Timor are being trained in
guerilla warfare with the aim of killing Australian soldiers spearheading
the multinational force in East Timor, Singapore's Sunday Times said. 

About 6,000 were being drilled by defectors from the Indonesian armed
forces, with special emphasis on identifying Australian troops by their
uniforms and methods of operation, the report claimed. 

The militiamen had been organised into six battalions under the command of
the pro-integration Struggle group. 

The paper said its account, datelined from the militia stronghold and army
town of Atambua in West Timor, was based on a three-day visit to training

Captain Domingos Pereira of the Aitarak militia told the paper they hoped
to step up incursions after a month or two. "We don't have a chance in a
conventional war," he said. "But we can make it very painful for them in a
guerilla war. The Australians must die for what they have done to my men
and their families." 

- Agence France-Presse and agencies

This material is subject to copyright and any unauthorised use, copying or
mirroring is prohibited. 


2207 GMT, 991011 Indonesia – Indonesia President B. J. Habibie said Oct.
11 that he would remain in the upcoming presidential race. Habibie told
the Tempo Weekly he doubted Golkar would stop supporting him during the
current two-day meeting. He said the move would be "counterproductive." 

1819 GMT, 991011 Indonesia/Australia – An Indonesian commander said his
troops were responsible for an attack that occurred inside the East Timor
border. INTERFET released an Australian Defense Force videotape that shows
an Australian officer interviewing the Indonesian Lt. Col. He admitted
Australian troops had not crossed the border. 

1810 GMT, 991011 Australia/INTERFET – Australia Defense Minister John
Moore told parliament Oct. 11 that he has written a letter to all the
members of the INTERFET coalition calling for a meeting sometime in
November. Moore did not discuss the theme of the planned meeting. 

1608 GMT, 991011 Australia/Indonesia – Australian Prime Minister John
Howard pressed the Australian Parliament Oct. 11 for top-level talks with
Jakarta, to prevent further border clashes in East Timor. 

1435 GMT, 991011 Indonesia/East Timor – East Timorese resistance leader
Xanana Gusmao appealed to Jakarta to free displaced East Timorese from the
"concentration camps" of West Timor. He also made a personal plea to
Indonesia’s parliament chairman Amien Rais to halt persecution of Timorese
residents in Indonesia and to shut down the Kopassus special forces. 

1419 GMT, 991011 Indonesia/INTERFET – INTERFET denied Oct. 11 it had
entered West Timor territory during an Oct. 10 clash with members of a
pro-Indonesia militia. INTERFET spokesman Col. Mark Kelly also denied
INTERFET acted provocatively. He said INTERFET was fired upon first and
acted within the rules of engagement. 

1411 GMT, 991011 Indonesia – The Indonesian attorney general announced
Oct.  11 that the case against former president Suharto will be dropped
due to lack of evidence. The investigation over the misuse of funds may be
reopened if new evidence is found, he said. 

2355 GMT, 991010 Indonesia/INTERFET – INTERFET will triple its numbers to
3000 troops in the western part of East Timor over the next few days, said
Australian Brig. Gen. Mark Evans Oct. 10. The new force, "Westfor," will
deploy Australian, British and New Zealand troops backed by helicopters,
armored personnel carriers, light armored vehicles and naval craft. 

2350 GMT, 991010 Indonesia – Indonesia stopped its registration of nearly
260,000 East Timorese in West Timor and nearby islands, allowing the U.N. 
High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to take over, announced U.N. 
officials Oct. 10. UNHCR official Jacques Franquin said that Indonesia’s
representative did not specifically say UNHCR could take over, but that
people wishing to return to East Timor no longer had to register. 

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