UNITED24 - Make a charitable donation in support of Ukraine!


Timor Army

Today, land retains its geographical value and is still the object of disputes and conflicts over its appropriation and control. Just as elsewhere, the various wars waged on Timor-Lesteese territory have always been a difficult and punishing experience for the country’s inhabitants. The FALANTIL have marked the country’s history, leaving behind a unique heritage for Independent Timor-Leste, which is of immeasurable importance in providing experience and knowledge to defend the nation. The FALANTIL are highly regarded by the Timor-Lesteese people and participate unfailingly in the national reconstruction process. The current Armed Forces (FALINTIL-FDTL) emerged from this past, and now form the embryo of a conventional military defence structure.

The strategic importance of the Land forces has is fundamental in any conflict, wherever it may be, for two reasons. Firstly, the use of territory as an land forces base is unequivocal in the eyes of society and awakens hope (thus guaranteeing national backing), giving it a decisive political value. Secondly, the Land Forces has the unique ability to take, occupy, retain and guarantee territory, and can maintain a permanent presence over a long period. The Land Forces seems to embody the whole conflict, in that winning or losing on the ground is synonymous with a victory or loss for the country. The FALINTIL’s experience demonstrated both the operational capacity and the relevance of territorial defense.

The Land Forces can maintain and sustain its influence from or for the land during peacetime, crises and wars. It can be used to defend Timor-Leste’s sovereignty, protect national interests and guarantee national independence. Military operations by the land forces are an obvious way for the Armed Forces to contribute to State objectives and also to assist civilians during peacetime (for example through UN peace missions, evacuation operations, humanitarian assistance, and aid and assistance to civilian populations), since the land forces is an operational force which can provide strategic support to the State and has adequate resources at its disposal to allow it to adapt to any changes in strategic circumstances.

Reports about the movements of armed groups close to Timor-Leste's border reveal the occurrence of significant security incidents resulting from constant incursions along the frontier. It is important to note in studying the operational environment of the TNI on the land border, that the capability of the forces that may constitute a potential threat has changed in some aspects since the arrival of UN missions in Timor-Leste. The border has been defined as a combat zone, that is, a militarised frontier. With the withdrawal of the UN, a vacuum was created in the management of the frontier. Timor-Leste opted to demilitarise the frontier; however, the TNI remained along the land frontiers and has not removed nor disarmed the significant number of ex-militias and other Timorese associations with connections to them.

The Government of Indonesia continues to place its combat forces along its land frontiers with the RDTL, a military operating area -Daerah Operasi Militer (DOM) according to its evaluation and definition of its modus operandi or order of battle, equivalent to the PKF force previously stationed on its borders. Consequently, it is natural that the TNI continues to feel uncomfortable about the fact that its Timor-Leste counterpart is not of the same nature i.e. military forces. In addition, the presence of the TNI on the land frontiers with the RDTL may be analysed from the point of view of strategic military defence as being the deployment of an advanced force for defence purposes in the areas of strategic interest to Indonesia itself.

The Timor-Leste Land Forces should be structurally integrated into units of Operational Land Combat Forces and units of Territorial Defence Forces. Both units should be small, well equipped (with arms or) specialised troops, have significant firepower and manoeuvre capacity (structure, troops, vehicles, weapons, logistics and communications) at their disposal.

The Land Forces should be developed around units of Operational Land Combat Forces (FOCT) and units of Territorial Defence Forces (FDT), constituting a joint force made up of small squadrons deployed in the areas of responsibility defined as containment zones or possible combat zones. These units shall be the front line, acting as a force multiplier during crises or wartime. The force must have the capacity to carry out various operations when the country is under threat from conventional warfare, or participate in peace operations in a regional and international arena.

The Sector command is subordinate to the Land Force Command, and consists of two (2) components: the Operational Combat Forces and the Territorial Defence Forces. The Land Force Command (FT), in close cooperation with civilian organisations in the sectors and/or regions, establishes the military mechanisms necessary to take action in the field. Having an on-site military mechanism with high C4IRS capacity allows State authorities to have direct, permanent and effective control over the national territory, inhabitants and resources.

Company grade is ideal for the initial development this force, which will gradually progress to Brigade level. The FOCT shall be made up of mechanised infantry companies, special force companies and snipers, backed up by combat helicopter units and other combat and support resources (M113 A3). The FDT shall be made up of light artillery (anti-aircraft) and light cavalry (armoured personnel carriers, anti-helicopter, LRSU (long-range surveillance units), MGSS (mobile ground surveillance systems)), backed up by engineering units, medical support units (mobile clinics), and strategic reserves of troops carrying out their obligatory military service, if applicable.

The land forces element, made up of FOCT and FDT units, is one element of the Combined Intervention Companies (CMI). It possesses extensive combat capacity and is highly efficient, allowing autonomy, flexibility and mobility, given the need to assure the security and defence of national territory. This can be achieved by bestowing certain areas of responsibility or operations on the CIC via the Sector Command directly under Land forces command. This structure ensures maximum flexibility in deploying operational combat troops in the most effective way to achieve Military Defence objectives.

The Combined Intervention Companies are made up of platoons and member of the FOCT and the FDT deployed in the areas covered, known as Operations Areas or Areas of Responsibility. Their task is mainly to carry out defensive operations, deterrent operations in joint civil-military actions, and constant intelligence-gathering. In administrative terms, the company is under the orders of the Sector Command and receives direct orders from the Land Forces Command.

In times of peace, the Land Defence Force (FDT) units are composed of mixed intervention companies (CMI), consisting of forces from the above-mentioned units, i.e. an FOCT platoon, two EU platoons, two armoured cavalry units, a mobile medical unit/clinic and a support and service unit (logistics). Troop numbers in the mixed intervention companies will be reinforced if they are required to undertake additional tasks in order to carry out their missions. In addition, troops in the strategic reserves must carry out annual training and exercises, thus increasing the FDT numbers.

In times of crisis or conflict (war), FOCT/FOCN troops will be doubled in the FDT/FDM theatre of operations and those of the strategic reserves increased through a national call-up. FDT units have the capacity to manoeuvre as platoons and to double up as companies, and may be reinforced with support companies from the Resistance Sector or support zones.

The nuclear unit for the forces is the Team or Squadron, composed of 5 soldiers with a firepower of 3 automatic assault rifles (M16/FNC), 1 grenade launcher (M203) and 1 light machine gun (Minimi - M249 SAW). The bipartite structure of 2 teams creates a Section, composed of 11 soldiers with the combined firepower of 2 teams plus 1 additional semi-heavy MAG Machine Gun (M240 – 7.62mm)). The tripartite structure of 3 sections forms a Platoon, composed of 33 soldiers + 2 (1 officer and 1 sergeant) with the combined firepower of 3 sections, supported by a combat support platoon division.

The Combat Support structure is composed of 1 platoon of 18 soldiers + 2 officers, equipped with 6 personnel transport vehicles and 6 (armoured) assault vehicles or APC M113 supplied with 4 heavy machine guns (M2HB – QCB - .50 cal.)) and 2 anti-tank missiles (milan). The Support and Service structure is composed of 1 platoon consisting of a command section + communications and logistics staff (administration, maintenance, drivers). The FOCT Company structure is composed of 3 operational combat platoons, 1 combat support platoon, 1 command section with a total of 150 soldiers + 1 platoon detachment from the Transmissions Unit (communications) and Logistics Unit (30 soldiers).

In the medium and long term, a structure may be established at battalion or brigade level when the organisational structures are better consolidated in relation to the needs of the country.

Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list

Page last modified: 29-09-2016 20:02:11 ZULU