Fwd: Indonesia

Macdonald Stainsby mstainsby at SPAMhotmail.com
Thu Sep 16 01:23:25 MDT 1999

>Pakistani-Taleban Relations Cool as China Tries to Curb Islamic Militants
>France Boosts Relations With Libya to Access Chadian Oil
>Kidnapping in Ecuador Likely the Work of Colombians
>Global Intelligence Update
>September 16, 1999
>East Timor: The Hard Truth About Peacekeeping
>The United Nations has now approved a peacekeeping force for East
>Timor, with troops preparing to land in the coming days. Still the
>prospects for success are unclear at best. The reaction of the
>Indonesian forces and militia will be the key variable influencing
>the outcome. The units now assembling for this mission appear
>adequately suited to keep peace - if local forces cooperate. But
>they appear wholly unsuited to force peace upon the territory. If
>they are called on to do so, they may put themselves in harm's way,
>or they may even have to delay landing in order to avoid that
>With the situation on the ground in East Timor as it is, the title
>of peacekeeping force is a misnomer. This force will be a
>peacemaking force, a much different animal. The international
>community's record on such missions is less than impressive. It
>appears that the UN is setting itself up for failure once again
>[ http://www.stratfor.com/asia/specialreports/special76.htm ].
>Most troubling, no specific mission has yet been announced for the
>international force.
>A comparatively lightly-armed Australian force plans to arrive
>aboard two ships. The first, the fast catamaran HMAS Jervis Bay, is
>capable of carrying 500 fully-equipped combat troops and a range of
>army vehicles and equipment at speeds in excess of 40 knots - a 10-
>hour transit to Dili, the capital of East Timor. A second ship, the
>HMAS Tobruk (LSH), can carry up to 18 Leopard tanks and 22 light,
>armored vehicles. The Australian Defense Forces (ADF) will deploy
>ASLAV 8 wheeled light armored vehicles. Significantly, no tanks,
>armored personnel carriers (APCs) or artillery are currently
>planned for this mission.
>It is expected that the Special Air Services will first take
>control of the port in Dili, with a regiment of paratroopers
>inserted at the airfield in the initial phase. Both would be
>supplemented by troops and vehicles from the sea-lift ships
>immediately thereafter. Specially equipped long range Blackhawk
>helicopters will supplement the C-130 fleet and are capable of
>flying without refueling from Northern Australia to East Timor. If
>the international force goes in unopposed, its likely immediate
>objective will be to secure Dili.
>But the degree of force that will be necessary to do so, salvaging
>what little is left of the territory and its long-suffering people
>remains unclear. That depends on the scale, composition, and
>leadership of the international force and the Indonesian Armed
>Forces (TNI) presence on the ground. It is estimated that TNI has
>approximately 15,000 troops in East Timor - including 2,000
>Kopassus - in addition to 8,000 police. Beyond Dili, most are
>located in the territory's towns and near the West Timor border.
>Whether the Australians and others can take control of the
>territory depends to a great extent on the TNI and to a lesser
>extent, the militias. It must be understood that the militias by
>themselves are not a credible military force. They were formed in
>the early 1990s, when Indonesia initiated a modest program
>throughout the archipelago to supplement its stretched police
>forces. The militias then were nothing more than a small, unarmed
>special constabulary led by the foremen in charge of TNI businesses
>in the territory. The rapid expansion of the militias was triggered
>by President B. J. Habibie's surprise announcement in February that
>Indonesia would let East Timor vote on independence. Furthermore,
>many militia members simply have no idea what they are supposed to
>be fighting for. Interviews with recruits at militia parades
>demonstrated that they frequently did not know what the banners
>they were holding said. They were equally unfamiliar with militia
>aims and objectives. A crack force this is not.
>The militias' dependence on TNI support and leadership is
>unquestioned. In the past six months virtually all militia attacks
>have occurred within visual range of TNI troops, suggesting TNI
>complicity in the attacks. General Wiranto, chief of the armed
>forces, appears to be largely in control of the military; the
>violence abruptly ended in Dili just before he arrived with a UN
>team this week. But it is unclear that all the TNI commanders who
>have lived and worked with the militias for years can now be
>counted on to obey orders from Jakarta and support the UN
>operation. For international troops, the only truly safe scenario
>is one in which the TNI withdraws.
>If the TNI ultimately does not withdraw or some elements fail to
>cooperate with the international force, the UN mission could be
>scuttled before boots touch the ground. In this scenario, it would
>be unwise for the lightly-armed initial force to go in without
>backup forces, or heavier amphibious forces in case the landing in
>Dili is stalled or opposed. So far, the only force in the region
>that might be available to back up the Australians - the Americans
>- are ill-suited to do so. No Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) has
>recently been afloat in the area.
>The Australians must be wary that their landing, in fact, is likely
>to be unpopular. Given the anti-Australian climate in Jakarta and
>the current strengths and dispositions of both forces, a direct
>confrontation between the TNI and ADF could quickly escalate.
>Without a withdrawal by the TNI, the equation on the ground will
>put 4,500 Australian troops - the vast majority of an overall force
>that could reach 8,000 - in close proximity to Indonesian forces.
>The ADF also has robust rules of engagement. Following the Security
>Council Resolution authorising "all necessary force" the ADF troops
>will be able to use lethal force in self-defense or in defense of
>the missions objectives.
>It is unlikely, however, that the Indonesians, who could seek to
>exact some revenge on Australian forces, would dare take on U.S.
>forces. They would have too much to loose. Both President Habibie
>and the TNI would fear large numbers of body bags; loss of IMF and
>other monies; and most importantly, the loss of face involved in a
>military defeat on their own soil. So far, however, the U.S. has
>refused to commit combat forces. As a result, the U.S. may be
>unwittingly increasing the chance of conflict - or that its forces
>may be needed, either to step in or kick down the door in an
>amphibious landing. If a fight ensues and the U.S. forces are
>forbidden to respond, which appears to be the current U.S. policy,
>it would cause severe stress on the U.S.-Australian alliance.
>Even if the TNI withdraws in large measure and remaining units
>cooperate fully with the international forces, it is very likely
>that TNI elements will establish bases in West Timor and conduct
>covert, cross-border hit-and-run operations against both the East
>Timorese and the international force. This has happened in the
>past. Pressure of this kind would undermine international efforts
>to stabilize the humanitarian situation and establish basic
>security within the territory. Depending on the mandate given by
>the UN Security Council, cross-border attacks could tempt UN forces
>into Indonesian territory, thereby escalating the conflict and
>giving Indonesia reason to cry foul.
>If the most unlikely scenario unfolds - the best-case scenario -
>the force is likely to restore order fairly quickly. Australian and
>other troops would then proceed to keep opposing sides separate,
>find arms caches, disarm combatants, monitor the borders, curtail
>any further movement of arms or disruptive forces, verify a
>potential cease-fire and begin basic reconstruction efforts.
>Additionally, the intelligence services would no doubt be heavily
>engaged in monitoring the activities of a variety of actors to
>ensure compliance with agreements both on the island and elsewhere.
>There is reason to believe that the international community is
>underestimating the complexity of the task in East Timor. Up to
>this point, the international community has critically failed to
>anticipate events in the territory. For example, the U.S. and
>Australian governments have failed to fully consult on this issue
>until very recently. Even the visits of U.S. Assistant Secretary of
>State Stanley Roth and Assistant Secretary of Defense Kurt Campbell
>failed to form a cohesive policy, even with the upcoming Crocodile
>'99 military exercise on the horizon. It was only last week that
>the chairman of the Joint Chiefs and his pacific commander were
>instructed to start lobbying Wiranto on resolving an embarrassing
>crisis. This was critical in forcing Wiranto's hand and has led to
>the current decision, the first time Indonesia will allow foreign
>troops on its soil since independence in 1945.
>On balance, the UN appears to have gotten itself into a mission
>that will be difficult to execute. The future of East Timor will
>depend on how the TNI decides to react to the presence of
>international troops. If they decide to fight it, outright war
>could break out between the ADF-led international force and the
>Indonesian military. Even in the best-case scenario, we see
>potential for conflict. Such a development could stymie the post-
>cold war emergence of the UN as a global policeman for good. Rather
>than heralding a new era, the pacific application of the Kosovo
>doctrine may well turn out to be an embarrassing episode in
>international military cooperation.

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