Winds of change for the Defence Cooperation Program in Timor-Leste
9 June 2014
It was business as usual for Timor-Leste Defence Force (F-FDTL) staff at the Training Wing of their Barracks in Metinaro instructing future leaders on courses designed by the Australian Defence Cooperation Program (DCP).
Going to the classrooms it was clearly noticeable that F-FDTL staff were taking the lead and instructing the classes supported by Australian Defence Force members in the background giving advice to the instructors where needed.
The DCP has come a long way from setting up initial training programs for F-FDTL members in 2001, which aimed to professionalise and develop the F-FDTL.
Today DCP instructors take pride in saying that F-FDTL staff are now, more than ever, taking over classes with Australian Defence personnel shifting into a mentoring role.
The DCP Team Leader, Lieutenant Colonel Mark Cooper, said that Australian support helps the Timorese Defence Force across a number of functions, from the Department of Defence across governance and strategic advice, maritime and the land component.
“In particular in the land component we provide training across specialist skills such as engineering, medical, signals, logistics, operations and tactical training,” he said.
“The F-FDTL instructors are going very well in their skills, knowledge and attitude, and they have become very effective instructors.”
Corporal Phillip Harris, who supervises the Engineer Training Team, said that overseeing the training can be a challenge at times, but to see F-FDTL staff implement something they have been taught is very rewarding.
“I have noticed good progress since I have been mentoring here. They are implementing their own processes a lot more and becoming less reliant on us, which is ultimately our goal,” he said.
Corporal Harris said that being posted to the DCP is very rewarding Sergeant Troy Roberts said that training F-FDTL medics is a valuable experience.
“To watch them progress in their skills from the advanced first aid course to the eleven week long combat medics course is really satisfying,’ he said.
The role of the DCP is to professionalise and develop the F-FDTL through military training, advice and support. The DCP has been operating in Timor-Leste since early 2001, as part of broader regional DCP activities in the Pacific region.
Currently, 24 Defence personnel are posted to Timor-Leste to support the program; most of them are located in Dili and Metinaro.