Australia opens a third front in the Philippines.

October 19th, 2005  
Italian Guy

Topic: Australia opens a third front in the Philippines.,00.html

Diggers to open new terror front
John Kerin
October 19, 2005
AUSTRALIA is opening a third front in the war on terror as the Howard Government prepares to send troops, patrol boats and surveillance aircraft to The Philippines.

Defence Minister Robert Hill said last night he was negotiating a "status of forces" agreement with Manila, which would pave the way for Australia to conduct joint counter-terrorism exercises on Philippine soil.

The US is the only other country with a status of forces agreement in place.

Senator Hill told The Australian the negotiations could lead to the two countries being involved in joint ground-troop operations.

"Although it will take some time to negotiate a status of forces agreement, it would allow Australian forces and Philippines forces to exercise together in The Philippines and help build Manila's capacity to combat terrorism," Senator Hill said.

The Indo-Philippines front follows Australia's decision to send troops to fight the war on terror in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Special forces will train Filipino troops in long-range reconnaissance methods. Australian military officers are already training the Filipinos in bombsite investigation techniques.

The Philippine constitution does not allow foreign troops to exercise or conduct operations on its soil but the US has a status of forces agreement that allows both training and operations. The US maintains a team of special forces advisers to train Filipino soldiers on Mindanao and nearby islands.

Canberra is keen to step up its counter-terrorism effort with Manila in the wake of the 2002 Bali bombings investigation, which suggested Jemaah Islamiah suicide bombers were trained at Abu Sayyaf terror camps in Mindanao, in the southern Philippines.

Intelligence officials believe Mindanao may have also been used as a training base for the bombers who carried out this months's attacks in Bali, in which four Australians were among the 23 people killed.

A study published this month by US terrorism expert Zachary Abuza exposes close links between Indonesian terror groups, including JI and Laskar Jundullah, and the Philippines-based ASG and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

Abu Sayyaf has been involved in kidnappings, assassinations, extortion attempts, bombings and beheadings. Its hardcore membership is thought to number several hundred.

In an early sign of Australia's commitment, an RAAF AP3-C Orion will be deployed to help the Philippine Air Force conduct surveillance operations against terrorists crossing the Sulu and Celebes seas.

Two Australian patrol boats will also be sent to assist the Philippine Navy next year.

After meeting President Gloria Arroyo, Senator Hill said it was a "big step" for Manila to negotiate such an agreement with Australia.

Manila was expected to negotiate status of forces agreements with other countries in the region, including Singapore and Malaysia, in an attempt to boost counter-terrorism efforts.

"We intend to negotiate and conclude a status of forces agreement with all the members of ASEAN," Philippines Defence Minister Avelino Cruz said, adding that he hoped the accords would be completed "as quickly as possible".

Senator Hill said the agreement could extend to joint operations but the two countries had not discussed raising co-operation to that level at this stage.

Ms Arroyo thanked Australia last night for extending military assistance to her country in the fight against the terrorists in Mindanao.

Her press secretary, Ignacio Bunye, also welcomed the joint Australian-Philippine air and sea patrols.

"We must combine all the tools to fight terror -- global co-operation and grassroots vigilance ... that will facilitate the detection of terrorist cells, and keep them from executing their evil task."

Senator Hill said Australian defence officials would be observers at the next US-Philippines military joint exercise, next year, and could be expected in future to take part in trilateral exercises.

The Philippines has also expressed interest in procuring six-wheel patrol vehicles such as those used by Australian special forces and small boats to help search marshland where there are believed to be terror camps.

The Howard Government doubled counter-terrorism assistance to The Philippines to $10million last year as part of an existing counter-terrorism memorandum of understanding.

The commander of Australia's special forces, Major-General Mike Hindmarsh, was also in Mindanao last week for talks with military chiefs.

Australian Strategic Policy Institute counter-terrorism expert Aldo Borgu said last night the agreement would be a "ramping up of Australia's involvement" with The Philippines.

"Operational roles for the air force and the navy would be one thing, deploying troops on the ground even at the request of Manila would be beyond anything we've conceived so far," Mr Borgu said.

Labor defence spokesman Robert McClelland said it was pleasing to see Senator Hill increasing co-operation in Australia's own region.

"It is important that we do not let a developing quagmire in Iraq distract us while terrorists continue to operate in (Australia's) own backyard," he said.

And former Aussie Foreign Minister blames the UN inertia,00.html

UN reform a disaster: Evans
Emma-Kate Symons, Paris
October 19, 2005
GARETH Evans has launched a savage attack on UN inertia, condemning the troubled organisation's botched attempt at wholesale reform in its 60th year as a depressing disaster.

The former Australian foreign minister is now head of the International Crisis Group and a UN insider who recently missed out on the coveted post of High Commissioner for Refugees in Geneva. He was a member of Secretary-General Kofi Annan's high-level panel on UN reform.

Though a strong supporter of the UN, Mr Evans warned that the failure to embrace the panel's reform blueprint, along with disagreements on security questions, development issues, the use of force, disarmament, management and the discredited Human Rights Commission constituted "a huge wasted opportunity".

"The management side of the house in the UN is depressingly blank," Mr Evans said.

"Yes, the Secretary-General has been given a series of mandates . . . but the atmosphere has not changed in New York.

"It is still the piranha pool of diplomats enjoying tearing flesh off each other, to the total exclusion of any enthusiasm for high principle or effectiveness of the organisation."

Speaking at a conference in Paris on the UN and international security challenges, Mr Evans clashed over the outcome of the UN world summit in New York last month with his friend Hans Blix, formerly the UN's chief weapons inspector.

After Mr Blix told reporters the UN was in reasonably good shape, suffered from overly high reform expectations and was not gripped by endemic corruption, Mr Evans accused him of "gathering rosebuds of consolation".

According to Mr Evans, the summit was a "deep disappointment". "It needed to be a big leap forward. It wasn't - it was a slow, small crawl and I don't think we've got any reason for any great optimism that we're going to get better than that for a very long time to come. That's a huge wasted opportunity."

More than 175 world leaders at the World Summit endorsed a watered down 35-page reform document that avoided most of the big questions facing the UN such as security council reform and the definition of terrorism.

Mr Evans's reform proposal to protect citizens from genocide and war crimes - legalising intervention to protect - was one of the few doctrines endorsed.

"If you compare it (the summit outcome) with the hopes and expectations of three months earlier in June, it is close to a disaster. And I say that not because I think expectations were over-inflated," Mr Evans said.

He added that the UN system "for all its flaws" had worked positively to reduce conflicts in the past 15 years, but the overall outlook was "depressing".
October 19th, 2005  
Charge 7
I was wondering when things would shift more to that part of the war on terror. Keep your powder dry. That place has plenty of potential to make Iraq look like Disneyland.
October 20th, 2005  
I was wondering when things would shift more to that part of the war on terror. Keep your powder dry. That place has plenty of potential to make Iraq look like Disneyland.
Damn right. It could become very, very sticky there. But it is important for us to take a stand in our local region. It's gone far enough with all the bombings in Indonesia.
October 20th, 2005  
good to see some relationships being made with our neighbours.
this is a very good move, IMO

it didn't specify who would go, did it? got any ideas nick? SASR? 4RAR?
October 23rd, 2005  
SASR. That'll be all at the moment from the Army. Maybe some representatives from the IRF at some stage. Navy patrol boats and Airforce surveillance possibly. I really can't say.
October 24th, 2005  
SASR is spread damn thin at the moment and i doubt they would be first in. From what i've heard there will be no significant presence of ground troops, but if anyone goes as advisors then IRR is my bet, and they are busy with the games until mid-next year.
October 24th, 2005  
SASR already have a presence there according to the Advertiser.
October 24th, 2005  
Has this been broadcast much around Australia? Do many folks know about it? What are they thinking?
October 24th, 2005  
i haven't been paying much attention to the news lately, but this is the first iv heard of it
October 25th, 2005  
I have met nobody who has heard about this. Im not surprised either. It isn't a huge news story. People are more interested in knowing who won the ARIA's and stuff like that.