At the start of this month the UN-mandated International Force East Timor (INTERFET) began to hand control of the disputed former Indonesian territory over to the UN Transitional Authority East Timor. INTERFET was formed last September to provide protection to the population after violence broke out following a vote for independence from Indonesia.

Unlike the majority of international coalition operations, which are led by the USA with major contributions from European and NATO countries, INTERFET was established under Australian command and included participation, not necessarily aviation assets, from the region - Fiji, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea and Thailand - as well as aircraft from NATO/Europe - Canada, France, Italy, the UK and the USA.

Establishing the force and its operation - including an airbridge between Darwin in northern Australia, Dili, the East Timor capital and other airfields in the territory - was only possible because of the defence relationships built between the participants during years of exercises.

Source: Flight International