Brigadier John Hutcheson has taken over command of the Australian-led International Stabilisation Force in Timor-Leste from Brigadier Mal Rerden who held the appointment since October 2006.
Based in Dili, Brigadier Hutcheson commands around 1100 Australian and New Zealand Defence Force personnel deployed in support of the Government of Timor-Leste and the United Nations Police. The role of the Australians and New Zealand troops – known as the International Stabilisation Force - is to assist local authorities and the United Nations to provide peace and stability in the country following last year’s civil unrest.
Brigadier Hutcheson arrives at a critical time in Timor-Leste as the nation forms a new government following the peaceful and successful presidential and parliamentary election process which concluded in July.
Brigadier Hutcheson, an infantry officer, previously served in Timor-Leste in 2001 as an advisor to the East Timor Defence Force as part of Australia’s Defence Cooperation Program. In 2004, he commanded the military component of the Australian-led Regional Assistance Mission in the Solomon Islands.
Under Brigadier Rerden’s leadership, the Australian and New Zealand troops in Timor-Leste have worked hard and effectively to create an improving security situation in Dili and the surrounding districts. These efforts have been exemplified by the successful and peaceful presidential and parliamentary election process between April and July this year.
The Australian contribution to the International Stabilisation Force is comprised of the ANZAC Battle Group based on the Townsville-based 1st Battalion of the Royal Australian Regiment. Supporting elements include Army aviation, logistics, armour, military police and engineers. About 170 New Zealand Defence Force personnel round out the force, including an infantry rifle company (attached to the ANZAC Battle Group) and Iroquois helicopters from the Royal New Zealand Air Force’s No 3 Squadron.