A study of the interfet operation using diamond



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A study of the INTERFET operation using DIAMOND

Stephen Bocquet

Defence Systems Analysis Division, DSTO Australia

Attached to Dstl Policy and Capability Studies


The International Force East Timor (INTERFET) peace enforcement operation ran from 20 September 1999 when the first troops were deployed to Dili, until 28 February 2000, when command was transferred to the UNTAET peacekeeping force. In terms of the speed of deployment, achievement of the mandate and lack of casualties, INTERFET set a benchmark for this type of operation. DIAMOND is a relatively new simulation model, developed for analysis of peace support operations. An East Timor scenario has been developed for DIAMOND, centred on the INTERFET operation. The aim this work is firstly to contribute to the validation of DIAMOND by examining how well key aspects of the operation can be represented in the model, and secondly to assess the suitability of DIAMOND for analysis of peace support operations.

The INTERFET operation1,2,3
East Timor is a former Portuguese colony, which was invaded by Indonesia in 1975 following the departure of the colonial authorities. Indonesia claimed the territory as a province. Australia recognised the Indonesian claim in 1979, but few other countries did so. The UN adopted several resolutions between 1976 and 1982 calling for the withdrawal of Indonesian forces and the right of self-determination for the East Timorese. Estimates for the number of East Timorese killed by military action, famine and disease in the first few years of Indonesian occupation range from 100,000 to 230,000 out of a population of 630,000.
In January 1999 President Habibie of Indonesia offered the East Timorese a referendum to decide between autonomy within Indonesia and independence. Indonesia and Portugal signed an agreement in May 1999 entrusting the UN with holding the referendum. Indonesia agreed to take responsibility for maintaining peace and security in East Timor during the referendum. However, the Indonesian armed forces continued to provide arms and support to pro-integration militias in the lead-up to the referendum. The referendum was held on 30 August 1999, with a 98% turn out of registered voters, and a 78.5% vote for independence. Following the announcement of the ballot, militia violence in the territory escalated rapidly, with the Indonesian forces doing very little to prevent it. Most UN staff were evacuated by 8 September. About 500,000 people were displaced from their homes, either within East Timor or to West Timor and other parts of Indonesia, some of them forcibly deported from East Timor.
Following significant international pressure, on 12 September 1999 Indonesia agreed to the deployment of an international force in East Timor. Australia formally agreed to lead the force on 14 September. On the 15th the UN Security Council unanimously agreed to Resolution 1264 under Chapter VII of the UN Charter. This resolution authorised the establishment of a multinational force under a unified command structure to restore peace and security in East Timor, protect and support UNAMET, and facilitate humanitarian assistance operations.
On 19 September Major General Peter Cosgrove was appointed commander of INTERFET, and flew to Dili for discussions with Major General Kiki Syahnakri, the senior Indonesian officer in East Timor. At dawn the following day INTERFET forces began arriving by C-130 Hercules at Dili’s Comoro airport. After the airport was secured by Australian, New Zealand and British special forces troops, the Second Battalion Royal Australian Regiment (2RAR) was flown in and began to deploy around Dili. On 21 September the Third Battalion Royal Australian Regiment (3RAR) arrived at Dili port on board the fast catamaran HMAS Jervis Bay, and 22 light armoured vehicles from C Squadron 2nd Cavalry Regiment were landed from HMAS Tobruk. The same day twelve Black Hawk helicopters self-deployed from Darwin to Dili Heliport to provide air mobility.
Dili was secured in the first few days of the operation, with militia being rounded up and disarmed by Australian, New Zealand and British (Ghurka) forces. On 27 September an airmobile operation was conducted in Liquica, a town 30 km west of Dili. Liquica was the scene of some of the worst militia violence before and after the referendum, including a massacre in the Catholic church in April 1999. In early October the main towns near the border with West Timor were secured in airmobile operations supported by amphibious landings of armoured vehicles and other equipment. This was the key phase in the operation: once the border with West Timor was secure, militia entering East Timor could be intercepted, denying them the freedom to operate from sanctuaries in West Timor. Operations in and around Suai, on the south coast, met with significant militia activity. In one incident a militia truck convoy attempted to break through a roadblock. Australian troops opened fire, wounding six militia. Later the same day, a patrol escorting detainees from this incident was ambushed, and two militia were killed in the ensuing fire fight. On 22 October a further airmobile operation commenced, to secure the Oecussi enclave. Militia violence in this district, isolated from the rest of East Timor, had continued right up to the arrival of INTERFET. Almost the entire population of 50,000 had been displaced from their homes.
In general the militias were poorly equipped and trained, with little resolve to fight. In part their lack of resolve was due to the rapid and effective INTERFET response to their actions. Lack of support from Indonesia was also a major factor, the result of international pressure, especially from the US.
The main points of entry for INTERFET were Comoro airport, Dili port and Baucau airfield, which was secured by an airmobile operation on 22 September. Comoro airport is able to handle C-130 Hercules aircraft, but not larger airlifters; Baucau airfield is able to handle the largest aircraft. Dili port can only handle two ships at a time. These limitations placed some constraints on the rate of build up of INTERFET forces. Outside of Dili, personnel and equipment arriving by sea had to be landed on beaches4.
The INTERFET operation concluded on 23 February 2000, when authority was transferred to UNTAET. Initially the UNTAET peacekeeping force was mostly made up of units which had participated in INTERFET.

East Timor scenario in DIAMOND

The DIAMOND scenario begins with the initial deployment of INTERFET to East Timor, and covers approximately the first 6 weeks of the operation. Included in the scenario are the deployment of INTERFET, the withdrawal of Indonesian forces, militia activity and civilian response to this, and the operations of INTERFET within East Timor.


One of the distinctive features of DIAMOND is the facility to represent multiple parties, with relationships between them ranging from friendly through to hostile. The parties and their relationships are shown in Table 1. These relationships do not change during the scenario. A simple stochastic model is used for negotiation between parties, which occurs when one party requests support from another, or requests passage through a roadblock.
Table 1. Relationships between parties




INTERFET

INTERFET B

UN

TNI

Militias

FALINTIL

Civilians

INTERFET

Friendly

Friendly

Friendly

Neutral

Hostile

Neutral

Friendly

INTERFET B

Cooperative

Friendly

Friendly

Neutral

Uncooperative

Neutral

Friendly

UN

Cooperative

Cooperative

Friendly

Neutral

Uncooperative

Neutral

Friendly

TNI

Neutral

Neutral

Neutral

Friendly

Cooperative

Hostile

Neutral

Militias

Hostile

Hostile

Uncooperative

Friendly

Friendly

Hostile

Hostile

FALINTIL

Cooperative

Cooperative

Cooperative

Hostile

Hostile

Friendly

Friendly

Civilians

Cooperative

Cooperative

Cooperative

Neutral

Hostile

Cooperative

Friendly

INTERFET is represented as two separate parties in DIAMOND. One (INTERFET) comprises the Australian, New Zealand and UK forces which undertook the majority of combat operations. The second (INTERFET B) comprises the other national contingents, which generally had more restrictive rules of engagement.


There were approximately 7,600 Indonesian troops remaining in East Timor when INTERFET deployed. Only four battalions have been identified: Bn 143 in Liquica, Bn 401 in Baucau, Bn 744 in Dili, and Bn 745 in the Los Palos area. In the scenario one battalion of 600 men is assigned to each of the 13 districts, for a total of 7,800 men. There were also approximately 7000 Indonesian police in the territory when the INTERFET operation began, but they are not represented as they had no effect in restraining militia violence.
The pro-integration militias are represented as a single party, although in fact there were a dozen or more separate militias. Each militia operated in its own locality, with the consent and in some cases support of the Indonesian army. Table 2 lists militia groups identified in May 1999, several months before the INTERFET mission.
FALINTIL (Forcas Armadas de Libertaçao Nacional de Timor Leste) is the armed wing of FRETILIN (Frente Revolucionana de Timor-Leste Independente), the East Timor independence movement. Although the independence movement had wide support in East Timor, as shown by the result of the August 1999 referendum, FALINTIL had been reduced to 500-1200 men by 1999. Only the FALINTIL commander Taur Martin Ruak and two small militia units are included in the scenario.
Table 2 The main known pro-integration Militia groups

Name

Location

Estimated Strength

Aitarak ('The Thorn')

Dili

5000

Gadapaksi ('Youth guard for upholding integration')

Dili

N/A

Darah Merah ('Red blood right wing militia')

Dili

N/A

Besi Merah Putih ('Red and White Iron')

Liquica

2000

Naga Merah

Ermera

N/A

Mahidi

Ainaro

2000

Laksaur

Suai

500

AHI ('I will uphold integration')

Ailiu

N/A

Halilintar ('Thunderbolt')

Bobanaro

800

ABLAI ('I will fight to Preserve the Mandate for Integration')

Manatuto

100

Saka

Baucau

970

Tim Alfa

Lautem

300

Makikit

Viqueque

200

Source: Bruce Woodley 'Red and White Terror', The Weekend Australian, 1-2 May 1999
Six basic types of ground combat unit are used in the scenario: Infantry company, mechanised infantry company, infantry battalion, ASLAV squadron, APC squadron and a militia unit. INTERFET is represented at company level, TNI at battalion level, and the militia unit is used for the pro-integration militias and FALINTIL. Transport ships are represented individually, and air transport is represented in flights of four C-130 aircraft.
In DIAMOND each party has a ‘Joint Theatre Commander’ who holds that party’s plans. Each plan contains one or more objectives, each assigned to a ‘Component Commander’ from that party. The objectives are composed of one or more missions, such as move, transport, defend, secure etc. The ‘Component Commander’ allocates forces amongst the various missions in his objectives. Each mission takes place in a defined mission area, comprising one or more nodes. The mission areas in the East Timor scenario correspond to districts, individual towns, or specific transport routes such as Darwin to Baucau Airfield.
DIAMOND uses a node and arc network to represent the scenario geography. In the East Timor scenario the nodes correspond to cities, towns, villages, road junctions and sea waypoints, and the arcs represent roads and the main sea and air routes. The terrain for the nodes and arcs is chosen to represent the surrounding area, except in the case of larger towns such as Dili and Baucau which are designated ‘suburban’. Most terrain is designated Open (flat), Open (rolling) or Open (mountainous), although many nodes and arcs could equally well be designated scrub, lightly wooded or densely wooded. There are no designations such as “hilly, wooded” available in DIAMOND, which would be more appropriate for much of the terrain in East Timor.
Figure 1 is an example of the DIAMOND screen display for the East Timor scenario, showing the node and arc network and some of the military units and other entities in the scenario, superimposed on a topographic map.

Figure 1. DIAMOND East Timor screen display.


There are three main climatic zones in Timor: North, Mountains and South. The mountains comprise areas above 600 m (2000’) elevation, and the other two zones consist of lower lying areas between the mountains and the north or south coast of the island. The climate in Timor is defined by two seasons, Dry and Wet, with transitional periods between them. The seasons and transitional periods are different in each zone, as shown in the following table:





Jan

Feb

Mar

Apr

May

June

July

Aug

Sept

Oct

Nov

Dec

North





































Mtns



Wet











Trans






Dry




Trans
Wet

South




































DIAMOND represents ‘weather’ rather than ‘climate’, but the period represented in the scenario (late September up to the end of October) falls in the dry season for all three climatic zones, so weather effects were not included in the scenario. However, each node was assigned to one of the three climatic zones (‘areas of interest’ in DIAMOND) to facilitate analysis of weather effects in an expanded scenario.


Population data for East Timor is hard to come by. District populations before and after the crisis are listed in a FAO/WFP report5, but no information on individual town populations was found. One civilian entity comprising the entire district population was located in each district centre. Militia activity causes these entities to break up and disperse during the scenario. In two districts (Ambeno and Cova Lima), a civilian entity has been placed in each town. The district population is equally divided amongst the towns, except that the district centre has double the population of the other towns. It was hoped to extend this more realistic distribution to other districts, but the additional civilian entities caused DIAMOND to crash with ‘access violation’ or ‘stack overflow’ errors. The population of West Timor is not represented in the scenario.
The food supply for civilians is modelled in DIAMOND by giving each node the capacity to supply food for a specified number of people each day. This number was set to a large value in most towns, so that civilians move only to flee from militia activity rather than to look for food. Road junction nodes have zero food supply. In the districts bordering West Timor the daily food supply was set to 150% of the initial population in each town, and in West Timor each town is assigned a food supply of 20-50000 people per day. The more realistic food supply levels and population distribution in these districts generates some movement of refugees into West Timor during the scenario.


Analysis and conclusions

Figure 2 shows the deployment of INTERFET and the withdrawal of Indonesian forces in the DIAMOND scenario. The general trends replicate the historical operation, although the Indonesian withdrawal took longer and was completed later (end of October rather than early October) than shown in Figure 2. Limitations on transport missions in DIAMOND make it impossible to exactly replicate the historical movements. For example, in DIAMOND a transport ship can only transport one unit at a time (possibly taking more than one trip), and a unit cannot be divided between two or more different ships.


Figure 2. Deployment of INTERFET and withdrawal of Indonesian forces in the DIAMOND scenario.


Amphibious and airmobile operations are particularly difficult to represent in DIAMOND. Ground units will move by land to their objectives rather than boarding transports, unless there is no possible land route. In order to represent airmobile operations a fictitious airmobile company was created. In the actual operation there were no airmobile units, but various INTERFET infantry units carried out airmobile operations. Amphibious operations could be represented by first moving the ground unit to a sea node, and then separately moving it to the beach. This is rather unrealistic because the unit is ‘dumped’ at sea and then picked up again to move to the beach!
It is not possible to replicate real command structures in DIAMOND, because objectives can only be assigned to ‘Component Commanders’, so this type of commander must be used for any command which needs to have an objective. In many cases this will be a brigade or battalion commander, rather than the land component commander in the usual military sense. Allocation of forces is done automatically by the model, so there is limited control over which units are assigned to which mission. In the East Timor scenario separate maritime and amphibious commanders were created as ‘Component Commanders’, with landing craft assigned to the amphibious commander and ships to the maritime commander. This was necessary to prevent ships requiring port facilities being assigned to missions involving beach landings, but it means that landing ships such as HMAS Tobruk can only be used for port to port transport, or amphibious landings, but not both (depending on which commander they are assigned to).
Figure 3 shows the attrition which occurs during the DIAMOND scenario. This is much higher than occurred historically. In the actual operation there were several small firefights involving militia and INTERFET, with a few casualties on either side, but no sustained combat. In most cases the militia were arrested and disarmed rather than engaged in combat. The DIAMOND combat model is not able to represent this kind of policing action. The defeat level for militia units was set to 90%, meaning that the unit is defeated when it suffers 10% casualties. Increasing the defeat level to 99% had no effect on attrition levels, because DIAMOND evaluates combat in ‘rounds’, and unit defeat is only considered at the end of each round.

Figure 3. Attrition in the DIAMOND scenario.


A further difficulty with the DIAMOND combat model is the way that all other activity in a node is suspended while combat is occurring in the node. In the East Timor scenario this is a particular problem in Dili. Most movement in and out of the territory occurs through Dili, and it is not possible to represent the rounding up of militia in Dili without bringing all movement to a halt. In the actual operation, militia activity did not prevent other activities continuing at the same time, often in close proximity.
The DIAMOND scenario could be further developed to cover other aspects of the operation. Humanitarian assistance was an important activity which is not represented in the scenario. Particularly in the early days of the operation, INTERFET provided escorts for aid convoys, which stretched the limited forces available6. The destruction of buildings by the militia, and reconstruction by INTERFET and aid organisations is another aspect which could be included. The evacuation and deportation of East Timorese to West Timor and other parts of Indonesia, and the return of refugees, are not represented, although there is some movement of civilians into West Timor as a result of militia activity. As it stands, the East Timor scenario is fairly large and complex, with 96 nodes, 125 arcs and 137 entities represented. With DIAMOND at its current stage of development, it is difficult to carry out analysis which involves making global changes to a scenario. Such changes usually cause the software to crash, and unless the scenario is very simple it is difficult to track down the cause of the problem. DIAMOND is one of very few simulations suitable for analysis of non-warfighting military tasks. Once it has been further developed to address some of the shortcomings mentioned here, and to make the program more robust, DIAMOND will be a very effective tool for analysis of peace support operations.


Glossary

APC Armoured Personnel Carrier

ASLAV Australian Service Light Armoured Vehicle

DIAMOND DIplomatic And Military Operations in a Non-warfighting Domain (simulation model)

FALINTIL Forcas Armadas de Libertaçao Nacional de Timor Leste (pro-independence guerilla force)

INTERFET International Force East Timor

TNI Tentara Nasional Indonesia (Indonesian National Army)

UNAMET United Nations Mission in East Timor



UNTAET United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor


References


1 Primary Responsibilities and Primary Risks: Australian Defence Force Participation in the International Force East Timor, Alan Ryan, Study Paper No. 304, Land Warfare Studies Centre, November 2000.


2 By the Book - East Timor: An Operational Evaluation, Ian Bostock, Janes Defence Weekly, 3 May 2000.


3 East Timor and Australia’s Security Role: Issues and Scenarios, Adam Cobb, Parliament of Australia, Parliamentary Library, 21 September 1999.


4 Learning the Maritime Lessons of East Timor, Richard Scott, Janes Defence Weekly, 30 August 2000.


5 FAO Global Information and Early Warning System on Food and Agriculture World Food Program Special Report, FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission to East Timor, 19 April 2000.


6 CIMIC in East Timor, Michael Elmquist, Chief, Military and Civil Defence Unit, Disaster Response Branch, UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, Geneva.



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