|Subject: Troops Timor -bound
Townsville Bulletin/Townsville Sun (Australia)
May 7, 2003 Wednesday
Covering the Bases - Six-month tour of duty begins today Troops Timor -bound
FAMILY and friends bid a teary farewell today to the first group of 1RAR soldiers to depart Townsville for a six-month tour of duty in East Timor.
Commanding Officer 1RAR, Lieutenant Colonel Stuart Smith, said the peacekeeping troops would be deployed by air in groups of 50 to 200 soldiers with the last of the 750-strong group scheduled to leave the city on May 19.
He said the battalion group of 1RAR soldiers would be supported by soldiers from across the 3rd Brigade including artillery men from the 4th Field Regiment, engineers from 3rd Combat Engineer Regiment, armed personnel carriers from the B Squadron 3rd/4th Cavalry Regiment, and specialists from the 3rd Combat Service Support Battalion.
He said battalion groups would be responsible for a large area that started west of the capital, Dili, and extended up to the West Timor border, known as Area of Operation Matilda.
As part of their peacekeeping duties, troops will be involved in a variety of projects which include conducting border patrols in conjunction with Timorese border control services, supporting Timorese police and providing emergency relief where required.
The troops will be aided in their endeavours by United Nation soldiers from Thailand, Portugal, Fiji and South Korea.
months rehearsing every contingency that they may face in East Timor.
"Soldiers were assessed on their ability to conduct operations in conditions similar to what they will face in Timor, " he said.
"This is a great opportunity for soldiers to put into practice their training and contribute to the building of a fledging nation."
Contrary to recent reports, he said all the normal procedures used in the past to communicate with loved ones would be operational.
Email facilities set up for family members in the past for defence personnel serving in East Timor will continue to be available.
"We have spent considerable time making sure that family support systems are in place by keeping families informed and opening the family support centre at Lavarack Barracks and by practising techniques to communicate with each other while we are away.
"Soldiers are confident that the family support systems they've rehearsed will keep them in the minds of their loved ones back in Australia," he said.
"Soldiers are entitled to a break part-way through their tour of duty and some may wish to visit family during that break."
May 7, 2003 Wednesday
Berwick soldier heading home
PRIVATE Alex Stein, a reservist from Berwick, is heading home after completing service on deployment in East Timor.
The engineering student was one of about 1000 Australian personnel taking part in the UN Mission in Support of East Timor (UNMISET).
"Patrolling in the hills with my mates around the Bobinaro area of East Timor has definitely been one of the highlights of this deployment," Private Stein said.
"The area is quite spectacular and I like seeing the local kids wave and cheer as we pass through their towns."
UNMISET was established by UN resolution 1272/99 in October 2000 and was implemented on East Timor's Independence Day on May 20 last year.
Australia provides about 25 per cent of the peacekeeping force, including an infantry battalion group with an integrated infantry company from Fiji, light observation helicopters, headquarters personnel and UN Military Observers.
In May 2002, the government announced that a reserve rifle company would deploy to East Timor as part of 5/7 Battalion, the Royal Australian Regiment. That is the first occasion that a Reserve combat sub-unit has deployed on operations since World War II.
Their preparation for deployment to East Timor included barrier testing at Puckapunyal, before deploying to Darwin in July where they underwent further training.
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