Information Era Manoeuvre: The Australian-Led Mission To East Timor

ABSTRACT

Several recent international military operations have been criticised, but one success story stands in contrast – the Australian-led mission to East Timor. Australia has a history of seeking to ‘punch above its weight’ with stealth, and battle cunning, backed up with, but not driven by, kinetic capabilities. This paper sets out emergent thoughts on the Australian way of war and the growing awareness of ‘Information Operations’ and Perception Management in Australian military doctrine that preceded the East Timor operation. Australia’s disciplined, restrained and self-deprecating approach helped bind together a 22-nation ‘coalition of the willing’, demonstrating the application of a manoeuvreist mindset adapted for the mass-media information era. The result in East Timor was a method that relied largely on a ‘tactics and television’ approach to accomplish the mission with minimal fighting and collateral damage to the region. The success of this approach would suggest that this form of Information Era manoeuvre is valid for the military challenges of today and beyond.


AUTHORS

Visting Defence Fellow, Queens University, Kingston, Ontario
Canada

LtCol John Blaxland is a serving Australian Army Officer assigned as a Visiting Defence Fellow at Queens University in Kingston, Ontario, Canada. He was the Intelligence Officer and principal staff officer responsible for Information Operations in Headquarters 3rd Brigade, 1998 - 99. He is a graduate of the Royal Thai Army Command and Staff College, has a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) degree in History from the University of New South Wales and a Master of Arts degree in History from the Australian National University.

His publications include ‘Consolidation and Reorganisation’ in David Horner (ed.) Duty First: The Royal Australian Regiment in War and Peace (1988); Organising an Army: The Australian Experience 1957 to 1965 (1989); and Swift and Sure: A History of the Royal Australian Corps of Signals 1947 –1972 (1999). He recently wrote ‘On Operations in East Timor – The Experiences of the Intelligence Officer, 3rd Brigade’, in Australian Army Journal, Issue 2000.

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Keywords

A

AI
APT

C

C2
C2S
CDX
CIA
CIP
CPS

D

DNS
DoD
DoS

I

IA
ICS

M

S

SOA

X

XRY

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