On Ops: Lessons and challenges for the Australian Army since East Timor

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On Ops
Lessons and challenges for the Australian Army since East Timor

Edited by Tom Frame & Albert Palazzo

Published by UNSW Press
RRP $39.99 in paperback • ISBN 9781742235097

On Ops is an insightful collection of essays exploring the lessons and challenges that have arisen for the Australian Army since 1999 when its peacekeeping task force was deployed to East Timor.

As Tom Frame writes in his introductory chapter, “when the Cold War ended in 1990, no one could (or did) predict that over the next 25 years, Australian Army personnel would be deployed to Rwanda, Cambodia, Somalia, Bougainville, East Timor, Afghanistan. Iraq or the Solomon Islands”.

The book is divided into six sections which address the issues from a range of perspectives:

  • The bigger picture;
  • Views from the other side of the hill;
  • Operational and ready?;
  • Views from the media;
  • On ethics and morality; and
  • Final assessments.

A diverse array of contributors has been assembled, who examine how the Australian Army performed in various situations.

According to Craig Stockings, the deployment to East Timor was dogged by a “creaky logistics system” and this theme was echoed by David Beaumont who asserts that the Army’s logistics success over the last 15 years has been “more a factor of good luck than good planning”.

This is in large part due to the Army “consistently deferring investment in logistics, giving preference to other areas”.

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