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Timor - Military Personnel

The System for the National Armed Forces and their missions, deployment of troops and preparation schedules may be reoriented in accordance with the current proposal for restructuring and redimensioning the Armed Forces. However, it is necessary to re-evaluate the criteria for selecting the permanent troops that will constitute the pioneer nucleus in the restructuring and redimensioning procedure and some alterations will be required to the operational structure and equipment in accordance with the option defined.

The strategic environment of Timor-Leste and the varied nature of the threats it faces have led to the possibility of increasing the Armed Forces to a total of 3,000 staff within 15 to 20 years. This estimated capacity for the Armed Forces will ensure control of land, sea, air and space borders within the Timor-Leste Permanent Strategic National Interest Area (EEINP).

The proportional distribution of the Armed Forces will be undertaken in accordance with the proposals planned and characterised within the strategic environment of Timor-Leste. Strategically the military potential of Timor-Leste will extend to the following:

  • A Land Force constituting 45% of the total force (operational combat units, territorial defence units, an artillery unit and an armoured cavalry unit);
  • A Light Naval Fleet constituting 35% of the total force (squadrons of marines and naval fusilier operational units);
  • A Support and Service Unit constituting 15% of the total force (CI, D-PM, logistics unit, engineering unit, air support unit),
  • A Command Unit constituting 5% (CCS, communications unit (C4IRS) and the CEMGFA strategic reserve units).

Former independence leader Taur Matan Ruak won East Timor’s April 2012 presidential election. Ruak, a former army chief who has promised to introduce mandatory military service, will succeed Jose Ramos-Horta, who won the Nobel Peace Prize for his role in the country’s independence fight from Indonesia. Ramos-Horta finished in third place in the initial round of voting.

In April 1998, at the East Timorese National Convention in the Diaspora, which established the National Council of Timorese Resistance (CNRT), Xanana Gusmão was reaffirmed by acclamation as leader of the East Timorese Resistance and President of CNRT. In August 2000, the First National Congress of CNRT, held in Díli, elected Kay Rala Xanana Gusmão President of the CNRT/National Congress. The CNRT/CN was dissolved on 9 June 2001. After the dissolution of CNRT/CN, Kay Rala Xanana Gusmão focused his efforts on the AVR – Association of Resistance Veterans, - an organisation that encompasses former members of the clandestine network and aims to create conditions for their skilled participation in the country’s development process. On 14 April 2002, Kay Rala Xanana Gusmão was elected President of Timor-Leste and was sworn-in as the President of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste on 20 May 2002. He served as President of the Republic until the end of his term of office in May 2007.

In February 2006, approximately 400 military personnel (from a total military strength of 1,400) petitioned President Gusmao to address their complaints of discrimination. The commander of the country's armed forces (F-FDTL) dismissed the petitioners, who reacted with a demonstration that flared into violence on April 28. In response to the escalating unrest, large numbers of people began to flee their homes for internally displaced persons (IDP) camps or the outlying districts. The violence mounted with a series of deadly clashes among the F-FDTL, dissident military forces, civilians, and some police occurring on May 23-25. Mob and gang violence took over the capital, resulting in additional deaths, widespread destruction of property, and the continued displacement of thousands of Dili residents. At the peak of the crisis, there was a national total of about 150,000 IDPs.

Facing a full-scale collapse of civil order, the Government of Timor-Leste on May 28 asked the Governments of Australia, Malaysia, New Zealand, and Portugal to send security forces to stabilize the country. Under heavy domestic political pressure, Prime Minister Alkatiri resigned on June 27. Jose Ramos-Horta--the Foreign and Defense Minister in the Alkatiri government--became Prime Minister on July 10, and a new cabinet was sworn in on July 14, 2006.

On August 25, 2006 the UN Security Council passed Resolution 1704, creating the United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT). UNMIT’s mandate includes assisting in restoring stability, rebuilding the institutions comprising the security sector, supporting the Government of Timor-Leste in conducting the 2007 presidential and parliamentary elections, and achieving accountability for the crimes against humanity and other atrocities committed in 1999. UNMIT has a large policing component. In May 2009, UNMIT police began transferring primary policing responsibility to the Timorese Police Force (PNTL) on a district-by-district basis. In March 2011, UNMIT completed its handover of executive policing authority to the PNTL. While the UN Security Council extended UNMIT's mandate annually since 2006, UNMIT and the Government of Timor-Leste made plans for the withdrawal of UNMIT police and personnel by the end of 2012.

The nation last experienced serious civil unrest related to fighting between the police (PNTL) and military (F-FDTL) from 2006-2008. By mid-2008 the Timorese Government was making strides in addressing some of the priority challenges emanating from the 2006 crisis. By the end of May 2008, a total of 709 petitioners had accepted the invitation to enter into dialogue, and all of them accepted the final compensation package to return to civilian life. On 14 July 2008, F-FDTL “petitioners” had started receiving their payments and returning to their homes. As of 01 August 2008, all petitioners had left the Aitarak Laran camp in Dili, with no major incidents reported so far related to their return. No petitioners had opted to apply for re-recruitment.

The Timorese State would ensure social protection for those scarred by war and for the dependants of those who had dedicated their lives to the struggle for national liberation. By 2008 the number of pensions granted stood at 12,538, with 631 pensions for living combatants and 11,907 to the widows and families of fallen combatants.

The F-FDTL completed the recruitment process in May 2011 for 600 additional members and continued to strengthen implementation of internal disciplinary procedures. Various training and capacity-building activities were undertaken to further strengthen its institutional and human resource capacities, with support from UNMIT and other partners. The Government also made further progress in developing the overarching legislative and policy framework for the security sector. The PNTL recruited 250 additional cadets (25 women), who began basic training on 01 March 2012. When they complete training in December 2012, the number of PNTL officers will increase to 3,386, including 598 women.

The Falintil - Defense Forces of Timor-Leste (F-FDTL), held the graduation ceremony for 645 new members (93 officers, 203 sergeants and 349 privates) on December 16, 2011, at the Nicolau Lobato Training Centre in Díli. Major-General Lere Anan Timur, reminded the new graduates that they have a prime responsibility for having been incorporated in the military institution "to defend our country and our People with the philosophy that our heroes have defended since the beginning".

"Today is a special day because we record another milestone in the course of the history of the Armed Forces of Timor-Leste after the restoration of independence, ten years ago. Today’s graduation day is an extraordinary act, because it was a radical recovery to strengthen the structure of the armed forces after the 2006 crisis. If we want to be honest, and confirm the views and options, is not easy", said the Major-General of F-FDTL and Chief of the Defense Force.

The President of the Republic José Ramos-Horta, Supreme Commander of F-FDTL, in his message to the new members recently graduated, stressed that "we have weapons to maintain the security of our People, we do not hold weapons to intimidate the People. Thus the State has full responsibility not to provoke violence, especially those who have weapons, such as the F-FDTL and PNTL". In addition to the President of the Republic, José Ramos-Horta, and the Major-General of the F-FDTL, Lere Anan Timur, attendeing the graduation ceremony were the Vice Prime Minister, José Luís Guterres, Deputy Commissioner of the PNTL, Afonso de Jesus, the Ombudsman for Human Rights and Justice Sebastião Dias Ximenes, the Attorney General's Ana Pessoa Pinto, members of the Government and Parliament and families of the recently graduated.

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