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Feature: Conclusion of Operation Astute

Joint Task Force 631 Padre, Captain Stephen Bennett, interacts with locals on a walk outside of Forward Operating Base Phoenix, Dili, Timor-Leste.

The ADF formally concluded Operation Astute in Timor-Leste and redeployed all troops and equipment to Australia in the first half of 2013.

The Australian-led International Stabilisation Force ceased security operations and began to depart Timor-Leste in November 2012, with the last of the ADF personnel returning home to Australia on 27 March 2013. The last commander of Joint Task Force 631, Lieutenant Colonel Mick Sasse, flew into Australia after the final handover of Australian bases to the Government of Timor-Leste.

Chief of Joint Operations Lieutenant General Ash Power said the mission had been a success in restoring public order and stability.

'Personnel from Australia and New Zealand are proud of the part they played in assisting the Timor-Leste security force's efforts to restore stability to their nation', Lieutenant General Power said.

'Overall, the ADF is proud to have assisted the Timorese people in the quest for self-determination and governance. We all look forward to continued strong relationships with Timor-Leste defence personnel into the future.'

'Approximately 29,000 deployment orders have been issued to personnel, some multiple times, to Timor-Leste since operations in the young nation started with International Force East Timor in 1999.'

'Our personnel have done an outstanding job to build relationships based on mutual respect and have maintained a strong rapport with the people of Timor-Leste throughout our involvement since the first deployment to the country in 1999.'

The end of the operation was declared after the Helicopter Point of Disembarkation became the final base to be handed over this year to the Government of Timor-Leste on 25 March 2013.

Other bases handed over include the Aircraft Point of Disembarkation at Dili Airport on 18 March 2013 and the Forward Operating Base 'Camp' Phoenix on 21 February 2013.

Three Army Black Hawk helicopters, four infantry platoons, 102 vehicles and more than 50 shipping containers of equipment have been returned to Australia since November 2012. Other items including infrastructure and some vehicles have been gifted to the Government of Timor-Leste.

Australia is continuing its strong security relationship with Timor-Leste through the Defence Cooperation Program, which is continuing its mission to support the development of the Timor-Leste Defence Force.

A team of 24 Australian military and civilian personnel has remained in Timor-Leste to provide training and mentoring support to the Timor-Leste Defence Force and the Secretariat of Defence.