|Subject: Paper by Dep. Commander of ETDF on
Defense & Security
Please find attached an English translation of the paper presented by Col. Lere at Seminar IV. It was subsequently published in Tetum in the STL newspaper on 22 August.
Jim Della-Giacoma Resident Representative/Chief of Party National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI) East Timor email@example.com
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The topic of this seminar entitled - The Role of Parliament and Civil Society in Developing a Defense and Security Policy - is extremely relevant for a nation such as ours, that is, a nation that recently freed itself from a 24-year forced foreign military occupation.
There are some events which, I believe, will impact the social, political and economic development and growth of democracy in our Nation. These events will prevail in the attitude regarding the relationship between the Military, Civil Society and the Government, whether at a personal, institutional or government level. At our current state of development, the trauma of military imposition or any similar unequivocal inclinations are factors that change the mentality of our people. I believe that with time our way of life will change because of our nation's development.
The establishment of the United Nations Transitory Administration, which helped and aided East Timor in building governmental and non governmental institutions in a progressive manner, led to the general and fulfilling maturity of our nation. The new state of East Timor needs its people to actively participate in the economic, political and defense development, and to establish a secure and stable nation. It is in no way inability on our part to manage our country's administration. However, bearing in mind our lack of experience in living as a sovereign nation, experiencing independence from day one and coexisting democratically with the international community is a constant challenge for all of us, to defend our sovereignty and fulfill our independence.
Nevertheless, we must take on more responsibilities as citizens of an independent country. We must overcome the obstacles of adjusting to the bare minimum for survival and get to work and begin producing from our fertile land and thus contribute to the progress of our Nation. We must never demand too much without giving what we can to our Nation. We must acknowledge and face the delays of our current development. The country needs to develop in all areas, social, political, and economic areas to prevent and overcome the remains of the crisis and avoid unnecessary conflicts in order to establish long lasting peace and stability and develop a free and independent East Timor.
Security and Defense are decisive factors in the development of a Nation, as appears in Article 146 of our CONSTITUTION, regarding the creation of the FALINTIL - ETDF, as the professional and non partisan Armed Forces for the Defense of East Timor. There are offices within the government that participate in the administration of East Timor. The Defense Forces communicate with other instances of government, such as Parliament, through their representatives in Government. The President is the Supreme Commander, and Article 85 of the Constitution defines the powers of the President which will be carried out as per the Parliament's approval. Among these will be the power to declare war against another nation. Nevertheless, the Defense Forces are subordinated to the Constitution and to the democratically elected Government.
Our Army is made up from a force that played many roles during the dynamic process of the fight for liberation. It is the same force that led the active process of defining sovereignty and territorial integrity of our Country, and finally during the developments of the United Nations Transition. The International Community worked together with our leadership and created with that force the nucleus for a Professional Army for East Timor.
This Defense Force is being created according to the Kings College studies, option 3, that is, it will have a light infantry, made up of 1500 soldiers in the Regular army and 1500 soldiers in the Reserves. The Regular soldiers make up 2 light infantry Battalions and one independent Company besides the additional 50 men who will make up the Navy component. In this regard, options 1 and 2 of the Kings College study were not feasible. Our financial status could not afford to create, train and maintain options 1 or 2. The present army is following the matrix of Option 3 of the Kings College study. The international community will assist and help until this army can to take on the mission of defending and taking charge of external security and territorial integrity of East Timor once the PKO leave. This will be one of the goals to focus on at the Donors Conference for Defense to be held on 28 and 29 of August of this year.
Another goal for this Conference will be to ask donors to finance the construction for the permanent base for the First Light Infantry Battalion (1st LIF) in Bacau. As you know, the 1st LIF recently took over the PKO Area of Operations (AO) in Lautém, taking over the responsibility for external defense and territorial integrity of the District of Lautém. The 1st LIF is based in Lospalos at the old facilities left behind by the ROKBATT. The conditions at this facility are extremely poor. The Defense Forces of the 1st LIF cannot be housed in Lospalos for too long due to the precarious and terrible conditions of the barracks. Baucau will be a permanent base for the 1st LIF according to the Battalion's detail designation. The reasons are that Baucau has the largest population and could act as the communications outpost for information of national interest. Baucau offers the best choice for an international airport and a good road network between the Districts. Concentrating the forces at battalion level will be efficient and cost-effective in terms of logistics and greater savings. Without this permanent base in Baucau, as other facilities headquartered at the CI in Metinaro, the FALINTIL - ETDF cannot develop because there are no conditions for growth in the Force as the Kings College study proposed.
In order to have peace and socioeconomic development in the country, the people and general population must live in an environment that is safe from external attacks that may put their stability and safety at risk. The people need to feel that their safety is in the hands of an effective and professional Force. Without the confidence and the support of the population and civil society, the legitimacy of this Force will not be achieved. All of us acknowledge and value the involvement and unconditional support from our people during the resistance. Without that support the Falintil - ETDF would not be here today to take on the responsibility of defending the sovereignty and territorial integrity of East Timor. But in order to reach this long awaited STABILITY and PEACE it is imperative that other partnerships with diplomacy be established at other levels.
In this phase the security of our territory is under the responsibility of the PKF, but just as Lautém, little by little the FALINTIL-ETDF will be taking on this responsibility. This cannot happen form one moment to the next, rather, it will require great determination on the part of the people of East Timor to continue training resources to take on the leadership of the Military Defense form PKF by June 2004.
This determination requires a well-defined defense policy on the part of the leadership. Laws, rules and regulations must be drafted that support the development of the Defense Forces as a solid and internationally credible institution with good training programs that prepare a professional military force and responsible citizens.
Being the newest Defense Force in the world, the FALINTIL - ETDF will be under constant scrutiny from the International Community. As a resilient and courageous people that we are, we have to show the world that we are not a Force that will bring problems to the world, rather a Force truly committed to defending its people from any external attack and a Force that is a model for patriotism. Civil society will award credibility and professionalism to this force.
After the frightful experience of 24 years of military oppression we want to offer the people of East Timor a service that will erase the memories of the horrible experience they lived.
Besides the responsibility for Defense, the Force will also have the responsibility of raising sons and daughters of East Timor with a high morals and unquestionable professionalism which, even in their civilian lives, will reflect their military training.
In order for this to be a reality, it is the Leaders and Members of Parliament responsibility to ensure good development of Defense policy and strategy.
2nd Commander of the FALINTIL-ETDF LERE ANAN TIMUR Colonel Inf.
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