East Timor by sea : an evaluation of the New Zealand Defence Force maritime contribution made to INTERFET operations in East Timor September 1999-February 2000 : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Philosophy in Defence and Strategic Studies at Massey University
During the latter part of 1999 the world's media reported graphic images of horror as the
presence of United Nations observers and Indonesian authorities in East Timor failed to
stop militia led violence following an independence referendum. Compelled by world
opinion and media pressure, Indonesia finally agreed to allow international forces to enter
East Timor in order to restore security and re-establish peace in September 1999. In a
matter of days Australia was called upon to act as lead nation of the force and responded
by seeking partners prepared to make a military commitment in order to carry out a
strongly worded and forceful United Nations mandate to preserve lives and restore peace.
As operational planning commenced, the International Force East Timor (INTERFET)
was created and preparations made to deploy a sizeable military force to East Timor.
Recognising the common foreign policy and strategic interests that this mandate sought
to protect, New Zealand responded quickly to Australia's call for defence partners and
committed a sizeable, mixed force of air, land and sea forces. Through the relatively
short duration of the mission, over 1,100 New Zealand military personnel contributed to
the INTERFET operations with East Timor between 20 September 1999 and 23 February
2000, the largest military operation for 40 years. Although the most visible New Zealand
activities were achieved by land based military force elements under national command,
all of the operations, titled Plan Warden, occurred within a littoral maritime environment
and were supported by RNZN maritime assets under direct INTERFET command.
[From the Introduction]