Christian Kerr writes:

Three thousand Australian Defence Force
personnel are involved in or supporting Operation Astute, including 1,300 troops
on the ground in East Timor, an ADF spokesman said yesterday.

According to
the ADF around 2,000 personnel are deployed in East Timor as part of ground
forces, air support element or aboard warships. The rest are performing support
functions in locations including Darwin, Townsville and Sydney.

Add that to
our commitments in the Solomons, Iraq and Afghanistan and you’ve got to agree with Mark Forbes’ comment
in today’s Age:
“Let’s hope the bureaucrats who named the
intervention into East Timor ‘Operation Astute’ are proved prescient.”

One of
Crikey’s old military moles is feeling pessimistic:

There’s nothing left in the shot locker, nothing. No-one
left to deploy except those who are lowest in the training cycle, the least
prepared. Things are grim, and the PM must be sh*tting himself because he
knows there’s nothing left.

There must be sections of the Indonesian government
who are choking themselves with mirth over this predicament we have so cleverly
got ourselves into.

What to do? Stick out the jaw and thrust out that
jutting lower lip and lie to the people again. Lies, lies and more lies. We are
stretched to the limit. The ‘laccy band has broken, but the government is too
gutless to make sensible decisions. Stubbornness and hubris are the order of
the day.

Peter Fray

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Editor-in-chief of Crikey

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