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Police/military cooperation in foreign interventions: Timor-Leste and Solomon Islands. Andrew Goldsmith, University of Wollongong and Vandra Harris, Flinders University. Policing the Neighbourhood www.flinders.edu.au/law/policing. Timor-Leste UN and bilateral 1999 – current

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police military cooperation in foreign interventions timor leste and solomon islands
Police/military cooperation in foreign interventions:Timor-Leste and Solomon Islands

Andrew Goldsmith, University of Wollongong


Vandra Harris, Flinders University

policing the neighbourhood www flinders edu au law policing
Policing the Neighbourhoodwww.flinders.edu.au/law/policing


UN and bilateral

1999 – current

Solomon Islands

Regional mission

2003 - current

international deployments and police military cooperation
International deployments and police-military cooperation

‘precisely when and where military enforcement shades into policing tends to be relative and controversial, especially in PSOs [peace support operations] where tactical actions may have strategic consequences’ (Hills 2001: 94-5)

‘… working in this demi-monde between hot war and a stable peace’ (Ashdown 2007: 75)

the enforcement gap challenge
The enforcement gap challenge

“I think the military … seem to operate in either green or blue and there seems to be this bit in the middle where it’s green and blue where they do find it difficult to operate, which makes it extraordinarily difficult because 90 per cent of the time is actually in that zone …” (R96, Timor-Leste)

logistical capacity for exotic environments
Logistical capacity for exotic environments

“[T]he RSIP drove the boats and the [Australian] Navy effectively or Defence Force provided the boats and funded them and their fuel and resources, the [Australian] police had to direct them. So it was a three way, sometimes very challenging role to – we all agreed on how the resources would be used, so we had to work very closely.” (R29 Solomon Islands)


“we relied heavily on the Army because they [had] done a lot of groundwork in establishing who was who in areas that they were overseeing”

(R79, Timor-Leste)

“The second time around … The army, from my understanding, had identified who all the gang leaders [were] but kept that intelligence to themselves and didn’t pass [this on] to the AFP, so we were struggling a bit.” (R9, Timor-Leste)

joint patrols
Joint patrols

“With police we just - okay, we’re going out on Friday, just drive wherever you want to. With the army, ‘We’re going to go down this road, then we’ll turn this road, then we’ll turn down that road and we’ll stop there for five minutes and then we’ll have a break. Then we’ll go down that road.”

(R10, Timor-Leste)

use of force
Use of force

“The military had, obviously, different rules of engagement … we were obviously scale responsive, you know physical presence, verbal, open hand, baton strike, weapons, and then obviously weapon force, whereas with the military it was straight to weapon force in reality because that’s what they were there for and that’s what their training covers.” (R21, Timor-Leste)

preparation for cooperation
Preparation for cooperation

“[W]e would be patrolling at night time and they were patrolling with night vision gear quite quietly to apprehend people and the police would have no concept of discipline with light and they would turn a torch on, or they\'d start talking and that’s – I guess that there\'s an assumed knowledge from the police that the army would know about what they were doing and that went both ways, and that was difficult.” (R23, Timor-Leste)

interoperability and international operations
Interoperability and international operations

“[A] consideration when I was calling the military to assist me in whatever duties I needed them to assist me in, was that those guys were trained to do a different role than policing.”

(R21, Timor-Leste)

future cooperation more of it or more discriminating cooperation
Future cooperation? More of it, or more discriminating cooperation?
  • Scope for further improving training, communication and coordination
    • Learning from the other: eg CIMIC & community policing
    • Intelligence sharing: often, military advantage
    • Use of force planning: taking prisoners or detaining suspects?
  • Integrative and complementary cooperation
    • Matching approach to the situation: respecting different roles of police and military