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DESPITE many advances in
more than 10 years of inde-
pendence, some of East
Timor's regional towns are
still without electricity, running water
and other basic infrastructure.
The Australian soldiers of the Civil
Assessment Team (CAT), made up of
reservists deployed to East Timor in the
International Stabilisation Force (ISF),
are best placed to identify the security
and broader infrastructure concerns in
many remote areas and pass that infor-
mation to operational commanders.
The CAT is part of ISF's Civil-
Military Cooperation cell, and travels
across East Timor to collect informa-
tion on civil and security infrastructure
to provide the ISF
ness on how the
general security situ-
ation is improving
in regions outside of
Lt Ben Edwards is a
teacher who has laid
down his chalk and
taken up a rifle to
serve in East Timor
for eight months.
He has already
covered most of
the country's east-
ern towns and is now
focusing his team's
attention on the com
munity of Aileu, locat
ed across the mountain
south of Dili.
"We always star
with the security sec
tor first, so our first
stop will be the town police station," Lt
Aileu police station was established
by the Portuguese and developed by the
Across the road stands the dilapidat-
ed former military barracks used by the
soldiers of both nations, which will be
the temporary home for the CAT during
its stay in town.
The Australians are warmly wel-
comed by the East Timorese police and
their UN Police (UNPOL) partners.
The Assistant District Commander
Albino Mouzinho, says ISF patrols are
welcome in the area.
"ISF always supports the people," he
"We have good cooperation between
us, and the people welcome their pres-
Reservist WO2 Paul van Gemert is
the team's 2IC and police liaison officer.
Being a Victorian policeman for
more than 30 years, he knows how to
talk shop with other police officers,
and is soon chatting with the Assistant
District Commander with the help of an
WO2 van Gemert makes notes on
the progress and issues facing the local
police, then it's time to meet with the
UNPOL District Commander, Senior
Inspector Sanjeev Tonapi of the Indian
Remote community service
Army March 3, 2011
Capt Cameron Jamieson joins soldiers
gathering crucial security and infrastructure
information in remote parts of East Timor.
Going regional: WO2 Paul van Gemert tours an Aileu market with Nepalese Police Sub-Inspector Nil Lama
(above), while Lt Ben Edwards (inset) makes notes on local security arrangements. Photo by LAC Leigh Cameron
Police, who welcomes the Australians
with sweet coffee and cakes.
"The relationship between UNPOL
and ISF is a formal one, but it's always
good," says the District Commander.
"ISF patrols add to the feeling of securi-
ty because their presence creates a lot of
confidence within the local community."
With the formalities at the police sta-
tion over, Lt Edwards takes the team to
check local infrastructure, including the
local ford at the river.
"The river crossing is an impor-
tant part of the people's lives here," Lt
"If it's impassable, the people can't
get to the market to buy or sell food.
"With all the rain we had in the dry
season, and the expected rains for the
wet season, there could be problems
later with food security."
The day ends with a visit to the dep-
uty district administrator, who tells the
team that planning is underway to con-
nect the town with the national power
grid in 2012, but right now there are
some food shortages due to the unsea-
Finally it is time to make camp in
the old barracks, and over dinner Lt
Edwards considers the three days of
tasks still ahead of him in this quiet cor-
ner of East Timor.
"It's been a long day but a productive
day," he says.
"It doesn't take long to drive through
Aileu, but once you put your feet on the
ground it has a great story to tell.
"Even today walking through the
markets we found the old fascia of the
Chinese Marketplace that once dominat-
ed the town -- few people ever see that.
"Taking the time to get to know the
people and their town means we can
better understand the lives of the East
"From what I've seen, the people
here are taking huge steps in right direc-
"I believe I have the best job in ISF
because I get to see this happening."
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