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U.S. Military Engagement: 2009 in Review

December 1, 2010

Just over a year after the November 2008 assessment by the U.S. Navy, U.S. Marines, and U.S. Coast Guard designed to determine the desirability and feasibility of future U.S. military and security commitments in Timor-Leste, our engagement continues to strengthen steadily. The fundamental objective of our interaction is a stable Timor-Leste better able to provide for its own defense and capable of contributing positively to regional security.

This year our efforts have had two focal points. First, we have sought to increase our engagement with the key security institutions, notably the military, police and civilian institutions such as the Dili port authority, to raise their technical, leadership and organizational capabilities. To these ends, we have established a detachment of Seabees in Timor-Leste plus coordinated a large scale exercise by the U.S. Marines. Second, we have sought to engage the civilian authorities, including the government, the national parliament, and Timorese civil society to reform and complete the legal infrastructure governing the security sector. For example, we continued to facilitate the development of Timor Leste’s first National Security Policy. Senior Timorese government representatives attended a security sector development workshop at the Asia Pacific Center for Security Studies where they worked toward completing a draft policy statement.

The following articles provide a brief snapshot of the recent U.S. military activities that have supported the development of Timor-Leste’s security sector. These articles also discuss recent changes in Timorese priorities and suggest how we might best support them.

Embassy Dili encourages and is ready to support the further deepening of U.S. military engagement with the objective of improving Timor-Leste’s stability and security, including the professionalization of the Timorese military. As Timor-Leste’s government works to complete a national security policy and develop a national maritime authority and strategy, timely and focused U.S. support to these efforts will have a profound positive impact. We also support the provision of legal advisors to the Timorese civilian leadership and the defense force, and completion of a bilateral MOU in the near term as an expression of the United States longer term commitment to Timor-Leste’s stability and security.

For a full report of the U.S. military activities in 2009 click here: Military Engagement  Report (pdf 3.3 M)