Archived posts from category ‘Axe in East Timor’

12.04.07
War Is Dead; Operations Live On

In his recent tome The Utility of Force, British Army general Rupert Smith proposes that traditional notions of war – uniformed armies squaring off in bloody but brief contests over land – are mostly extinct. Centuries of industrialization during which weapons became increasingly lethal, culminating in world-destroying nuclear arsenals, have made old-fashioned warfare effectively suicidal, [...]

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11.04.07
Oldies But Goodies

The Australian military is a very busy organization all over the world. A thousand troops in Iraq; another thousand in Timor; several hundred in Afghanistan … not to mention Pacific piracy patrols. All for a force numbering less than 100,000 including reserves. These operations run the gamut: the Timor force faces unruly youths in the [...]

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10.04.07
Ewok Army

“They’ll come at you with slingshots, machetes, sticks … ” That’s a young Australian soldier describing the revenge-minded gang members, often in the pay of corrupt political parties, who comprise one of the greatest threats to stability in troubled, oil-rich East Timor. Little, brown, usually friendly but highly adaptive and fearless in large numbers, Timorese [...]

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10.04.07
Elections Are – You Guessed It! – Boring

So I wake up in my seedy little Dili hostel on Monday morning to the sounds of … nothing. It’s election day in East Timor. A year after riots and security-force rebellions nearly tore this tiny country apart, it’s got a chance to prove it can behave like a proper, civilized democracy. And it’s got [...]

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08.04.07
Logistics Are Still Boring

You can’t deploy a large military force thousands of miles from home without some serious attention to feeding, watering and clothing them, slapping band-aids on their boo-boos and keeping them in bullets, body armor and parts for their trucks and helicopters. Logistics might be boring, but they are very very important and usually neglected in [...]

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08.04.07
Oil. Why Is It Always about Oil?

You might wonder why Australia even bothered with East Timor. It’s a wretched, seemingly harmless little country. There aren’t any terrorists here. There’s no prospect of some future Timorese army ever threatening Australia. Why invest a billion dollars and a thousand troops in an open-ended “stabilization operation,” when the stakes seem so low? Oil, perhaps?

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07.04.07
Flex = Surge

The U.S. military isn’t the only one “surging” to quell violence in one of its occupied cities. A few weeks ago the Australian military rushed extra troops to Dili in East Timor to clamp down on gangs and rebels in advance of the April 9 presidential election. Only they call it a “flex,” not a [...]

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07.04.07
Checkpoints Are Boring

Checkpoints are the bread and butter of low-intensity operations in Iraq, Lebanon, East Timor and elsewhere. The idea is to set yourself up in the locals’ streams of foot and vehicle traffic and screen them for the illegal weapons, cash or wounds that might indicate illicit activity. Only one in a hundred checks will turn [...]

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06.04.07
Why Wear Body Armor When the Bad Guys Don’t Have Guns?

You’re an Australian peacekeeper in East Timor. It’s 100 degrees out. Any clothes at all are too many, and here you are wearing a 25-pound armor vest. Why not go without? I’ll give you one reason: sharpened rebar arrows. That’s right, improvised projectiles made of steels rods that are meant for use in construction. In [...]

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05.04.07
Timor Manhunt Continues

The free world’s “sheriff” in the Pacific has assembled a heavily-armed force of soldiers and airmen to pursue one man accused of fomenting rebellion in one of the world’s newest countries. East Timor broke away from Indonesia, with which it shares a border, in 1999 after a 25-year occupation and formerly declared independence in 2002. [...]

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05.04.07
Oh, the Irony

Timorese politics turned nasty a couple weeks back when counter-demonstrators crashed a rally in Dili for presidential frontrunner Jose Ramos-Horta. Today there’s another rally … and the U.N. force working to stabilize East Timor are taking no chances. Australian troops in trucks and M-113 personnel carriers spread throughout the city. A New Zealander infantry squad [...]

8 Comments

04.04.07
Axe Does Timor

East Timor not-so-proudly holds two distinctions: founded just five years ago after a long civil war, it’s the world’s newest country; and by some measures it is the poorest place on the planet. Institutional youth and extreme poverty for the million Timorese — plus Timor’s unenviable location at the cross-roads of Muslim Southeast Asia and [...]

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