International Force East Timor

A Case Study in Multinational Mission Command


Commandant Gavin Egerton, Irish Army


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Soldiers with the 1st Multi-Domain Effects Battalion (1st MDEB) train 13 February 2023 at Fort Huachuca, Arizona

Derived from its original Prussian foundations in Auftragstaktik, mission command has become the contemporary command template of many Western land forces.1 The philosophy promotes decentralized decision-making and the empowerment of subordinates to show disciplined initiative within the sphere of their commander’s intent.

The practice of mission command has been espoused by senior U.S. Army leaders for more than twenty years. Army Doctrine Publication 6-0, Mission Command, published in 2019, clearly states that this is the U.S. Army’s approach to command and control.2 Yet, despite being enshrined in doctrine and enjoying strong advocacy, the universal adoption and practice of mission command remains elusive. As former Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley noted, the U.S. Army is “over-centralized … overly specify[ing] everything a subordinate has to do all the time.”3 Milley also recognized that while the U.S. Army preaches mission command, it doesn’t necessarily practice it daily in everything it does.4 In many instances, formations fail to achieve shared understanding, foster sufficient trust, or reward subordinates who show initiative.5

The factors that stifle mission command in organic U.S. Army formations are further exacerbated in the multinational environment. Additional barriers posed by linguistic, cultural, and doctrinal divergence, in addition to competing political objectives, create friction. This friction can serve to impede the application of mission command, particularly where commanders’ intents are not successfully communicated to lower levels. Since Operation Desert Storm, the trend for the U.S. Army has been to conduct military operations as part of multinational forces. The twenty-first century has seen multinationalism proliferate and become the norm, and U.S. Army commanders should expect to operate as part of a multinational force.6 Looking at future potential conflict, Field Manual 3-0, Operations, recognizes that large-scale combat operations typically include joint and multinational partners.7 Therefore, the challenge facing current and future commanders of multinational forces is how to apply mission command in a heterogenous, ad hoc force with myriad contributing allies and partners.

This article provides an instance of an Indo-Pacific region stabilization operation in which mission command was successfully employed across a hastily assembled and diversely multinational force. What follows is an examination of the integration of an Irish platoon into a New Zealand battalion, which was part of an Australian brigade in the Australian-led International Force East Timor (INTERFET), 1999–2000. It serves as a useful case study for leaders who may contribute to or command a multinational force in the future.

Background to INTERFET

Originally a Portuguese colony, East Timor had a long struggle for independence. In 1949, the western half of the island of Timor became part of the newly established Republic of Indonesia, while the eastern half remained a Portuguese colony in which Portugal showed little interest.8 The 1974 military coup in Portugal and resultant democratically elected government led to efforts to shed colonial baggage.9 As Portuguese forces departed in December 1975, Indonesia invaded East Timor, ultimately incorporating the territory into the Republic of Indonesia.10

Capt. Jim Deery talks with locals in the village of Fatululic, East Timor

In 1998, Indonesia agreed to facilitate a United Nations-supervised referendum process in order to establish what status the people of East Timor wanted: semiautonomy as part of Indonesia, or full independence.11 The result of the 30 August 1999 ballot was that the people of East Timor overwhelmingly favored full independence.12 Immediately following the result, details began to emerge of how pro-Indonesia militia “were reducing East Timor’s infrastructure to ruins,” with instances of “intimidation, physical harassment, sniping, murder, and massacres.”13 The ensuing international media backlash made a military intervention all but inevitable. Such an intervention would likely be led by Indonesia’s nearest and most militarily capable neighbor, Australia. However, any intervention needed to be a multinational effort, for as is the case in many regional crises, it was politically and militarily impossible for Australia to intervene unilaterally.14

Australian Command

At this time, Peter Cosgrove, then a major general, was simultaneously commander of the Australian Army’s 1st Division and the Deployable Joint Force Headquarters, meaning that he would command the multinational joint force should an intervention occur. Cosgrove, a veteran of both Malaya and Vietnam, had been exposed to mission command as a young platoon commander—a significant factor is his adoption of the command philosophy throughout his career.15 As Australian preparation for an increasingly likely intervention intensified, a coincidental but convenient preplanned Australian-U.S. combined joint exercise, Crocodile ’99, served as a useful rehearsal.16 As former Australian Prime Minister John Howard puts it, “If, as it finally eventuated, we were invited to contribute military personnel we would not be doing so from a standing start.”17

On 15 September 1999, United Nations Security Council Resolution 1264 was adopted, invoking Chapter VII of the UN Charter and establishing an Australian-led multinational force.18 Australia formed the nucleus of INTERFET’s multinational joint headquarters and provided the largest number of troops. On 20 September 1999, INTERFET deployed to Dili by sea and air.19 This diversely multinational force eventually included contributions from twenty-two nations with a strength of 11,500.20

New Zealand and Irish Contributions

The initial contribution from New Zealand was an infantry company group formed around Victor Company, 1st Battalion, Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment (1 RNZIR), later joined by the remainder of the battalion plus elements of supporting arms. Due to other nations including Ireland, Fiji, and Canada contributing smaller contingents to 1 RNZIR, the battalion group (task force) eventually peaked at almost one thousand personnel.21

An Army Ranger Wing team from 2nd Irish Contingent patrols the village of Fatululic, East Timor

On 12 October 1999, answering the call for international military support, Ireland committed to the deployment of forty military personnel. This included a platoon of thirty Irish soldiers drawn from the Army Ranger Wing (ARW)—Ireland’s special operations force—operating within the New Zealand battalion group.22 The Irish platoon initially helped constitute a hastily formed “Reconnaissance Company,” operating from the main battalion base at Suai and led by then Maj. John Rogers. The Irish platoon later moved to Victor Company—a typical rifle company—led by then Maj. John Howard, where they were assigned their own discrete platoon area of operations and patrol base close to the border with West Timor.

Perceptions of Mission Command Prior to Deployment

Interestingly, some Irish soldiers deploying to East Timor had little or no familiarity with the theory of mission command. As Bravo Team leader who served with the 1st Irish contingent (IRCON 1) explains, “It’s new to me even now—Mission Command—but when we talk about it I know what it is, and [in the ARW] we’ve been doing that since the ’80s.”23 Some other interviewees had encountered the command philosophy in practice and could recount positive experiences. The commander of the first Irish platoon to deploy to INTERFET with IRCON 1 was then Capt. Benny McEvoy. Early in his career, McEvoy was exposed to mission command when engaged on an internal security operation to secure Dublin Airport during a European summit:

My company commander gave me Mission Command to patrol my area without interfering … he gave me a section of the area; he didn’t specify how I was to secure it. And he gave me the resources to interact with the other companies and also an Air Corps [helicopter] … He never interfered with my mission, and I adopted the same approach with my NCOs.24

Furthermore, McEvoy encountered mission command on his first overseas deployment to the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), prior to INTERFET. He recalls, “[the company commander] had drilled-in his intent, how he wanted us to be high-profile, to make decisions and be confident, and to trust our NCOs … he had entrusted us and gave us confidence to carry out his intent.”25

In contrast to McEvoy’s positive experiences with mission command, Capt. (Ret.) Jim Deery, who commanded the second Irish platoon to deploy to East Timor, was not as fortunate. His experiences prior to joining the ARW and deploying to INTERFET was of an army with little scope for initiative. Deery explains,

It was very hierarchical: you do what you’re told and you swing up your arms. … As a junior officer—a second lieutenant—there would have been no latitude for [initiative]; I probably really didn’t encounter it until I went to the Ranger Wing.26

Irish infantry soldiers serving with the follow-on UN peacekeeping force board a New Zealand Army helicopter

This lack of freedom to show initiative is echoed by one of the most junior members of Deery’s platoon in East Timor, Ray Goggins, then a corporal. Reflecting on the early years of his career, Goggins outlines a very similar lack of mission command prior to joining the ARW:

Prior to East Timor … I had been an infantry corporal and I was used to being tasked very specifically; and your next commander up is never too far away from you so there’s always a very short leash on you. You get a small bit of leeway; probably not that much really. So my view of Mission Command was extremely narrow.27

The impression one gets from these contributions is that the practice of mission command in the Irish Army of the 1990s was inconsistent, largely contingent on the personalities of the commanders involved. Mission command was not yet enshrined in Irish doctrine and it was still an emergent command philosophy in most Western militaries. However, Col. Ray Murphy sheds some light on the prevailing command culture in the Irish Army in the late 1990s. Then a captain and serving as second-in-command (2IC) of the ARW, Murphy was selected as the officer in charge of the ARW detachment deployed to INTERFET with IRCON 1. He explains why mission command was difficult to implement in the Irish Army during this period:

Firstly, there was an element of stagnation taking place in the organization … the only operations that were being conducted, in general, were those in Aid to the Civil Power and our only operational focus overseas was UNIFIL … Secondly, there was a disparity between what young officers were being taught and what their superiors had been taught in the past. However, I did notice that even without my superiors’ understanding of Mission Command, if they had trust in me to complete a task in the manner they expected, I was given freedom of action.28

Murphy’s explanation provides a very useful snapshot of the Irish Army of that era. It was emerging from an internal security role and becoming increasingly professionalized, with concepts such as mission command only just beginning to take hold. However, the ARW was slightly different. Akin to other special operations units, soldiers serving in the ARW were expected to show initiative in line with their commander’s intent and were given freedom of action to do so.29 Murphy explains that “while the operators in the unit at the time may not have known about the concept of Mission Command they certainly understood what was the best way to maximize their particular skill sets to get the job done in the most efficient and effective fashion.”30 Thus, the ARW was at that time ahead of the developmental curve of the rest of the Irish Army in terms of empowerment, freedom of action, decentralized authority, etc. Consequently, many of the ingredients of mission command were present in practice, if not by name or underpinned by doctrine.

The New Zealand Army of the same era was more advanced in this regard. Maj. Gen. John Howard points out that mission command was already the command and control philosophy of the New Zealand Army, having been adopted in the early 1990s and embedded in all career courses.31 As Howard explains, “The tenets were well explained and endorsed … [and] it was very much imbued into our training prior to going to Timor.”32 The Irish platoon was consequently entering an already established mission command culture, though also bringing their own ethos of freedom of action and comfort with working independently whilst aligned with the commander’s intent.

The Presence of Mission Command in INTERFET

Many Western armies have devised their own principles of mission command, with the U.S. Army adopting competence, mutual trust, shared understanding, commander’s intent, mission orders, disciplined initiative, and risk acceptance.33 However, the contributions from the commanders interviewed justify a further rationalization to three essential components: communication, empowerment, and trust.

Communicating and understanding commanders’ intents. To create unity of effort and purpose, commanders must carefully construct and transmit their intent to those under their command. Without a clear understanding of the commander’s intent, it is impossible to generate decentralized decision-making or disciplined initiative. In the case of INTERFET, Cosgrove summed up his strategic intent as “first, to restore and maintain peace and security for East Timor; second, to assist the United Nations to return and perform its functions in East Timor (this included establishing a follow-on UN military force); and, third and emphatically, to improve our relationships with Indonesia.”34 A concise intent such as this is easily transmitted and remembered—it is short and covers just three key goals. It also provides a clear end state.

Significantly, Cosgrove recognized how vital it was for his intent to be understood at the lowest levels: “I thought it was extraordinarily important for my subordinates to know enough of the strategic intent, and the political-military factors, so that they would react with that in mind and always react in a way appropriate to the circumstances.”35 This demonstrates an appreciation of the ability of the most junior commander to influence the overall outcome of the entire mission, congruent with Krulak’s infamous “strategic corporal.”36 As Rogers points out, “[Cosgrove] would talk about the strategic section commander” concept, indicative of his attitude toward empowering junior leaders.37 Col. (Ret.) Kevin Burnett commanded 1 RNZIR during the duration of INTERFET and its transition to United Nations Transitional Administration East Timor. He remembers,

I was very clear on commander’s intent from a strategic perspective from Major General Cosgrove, because he was very articulate, and that’s very helpful … so the strategic intent was clear. And so was the brigade-level operational objectives; very clear at all phases of the operation, I didn’t have any doubt about what was being asked for us.38

Patrol commanders were empowered to conduct their operations as they saw fit, once those operations aligned with their platoon and company commanders’ intents

Rogers, as company commander, remembers his superiors’ intents being communicated regularly:

We all understood them very clearly, and they were communicated formally in orders … We would have a nightly conversation and Kevin [Burnett] would reinforce his intent as it evolved. And of course, he’d be out visiting and we’d be back in [battalion headquarters] and so there would be the informal reinforcing or texturing of that intent as well.39

Commandant (Ret.) Eamonn Kenneally, then a sergeant, served as 2IC of Alpha Team in IRCON 1. He remembers an early visit from Cosgrove where he outlined his intent:

I think the words he gave us (not verbatim) was that our primary purpose there was to restore peace to East Timor so that the East Timorese people—who were the center of gravity—could return to a safe and secure environment and live their normal lives … He also mentioned about the people who were going to come after us.40

Furthermore, Kenneally recalls that his company commander visited each platoon regularly and offered further context. As Kenneally explains, “I was left in no doubt what our job was and what the commander’s intent was.”41

Empowerment and freedom of action. If subordinates are not given sufficient freedom to decide and act with minimal supervision, they are unlikely to exercise disciplined initiative and mission command will fail. Burnett recalls,

We provided our sub-units with clear direction as to what we wanted them to achieve [and] we gave them the resources to do it. And we didn’t dictate their approach, we didn’t bound the way they went about their business.42

Furthermore, when tasking his company commanders, Burnett used a “mission orders” approach congruent with mission command theory. He remembers emphasizing “real clarity over the objectives two-up, real clarity about what I wanted us to achieve and then tasks that I thought the subunits needed to undertake, and then as much freedom to operate as we could reasonably give.”43

From the perspectives of the company commanders, Rogers notes that he felt “very, very much empowered.” As he recalls, “We had a high level of autonomy, a high level of trust … and our freedoms and constraints were very clear.”44 Howard concurs but admits, “I’ve never been an officer who waits for orders. Our officer cadet training is very clear about understanding intent and getting on and doing something.”45

From the Irish perspective at team/section level, Kenneally remembers, “It was very obvious from day one that Captain Benny McEvoy had created a culture that was one of trust and belief in us … We were empowered by him and by his commander to use Mission Command where applicable.”46

Such empowerment and freedom of action is a product of sufficient trust present within the chain of command.

Fostering trust. One of the key ingredients in mission command is trust, but trust is more difficult to build in a hastily formed heterogenous multinational force than in a homogenous national formation. Cosgrove, when reflecting on the importance of trust, points out that “part of learning to trust is to be careful with Mission Command; that you fundamentally understand and have confidence in the person in whom you are entrusting the mission.”47 Australia and New Zealand were already partner nations with a deep, shared military history so for them, trust built quickly and Cosgrove as force commander could readily employ mission command with those contingents. However, prior to INTERFET, neither country was familiar with the ARW specifically, or even with the Irish Army in general. As Alpha Team leader puts it, “We were a completely unknown entity before we arrived.”48 And Burnett admits, “We didn’t know what we were getting. We hadn’t worked with the Irish before to any degree.”49 Therefore, commanders at all levels had to work hard to build relationships and foster trust, and this began during combined predeployment training in Townsville, Australia. Alpha Team leader believes a number of early demonstrations of competence served as quick wins, contributing to the initial generation of trust: “We went to an electronic gallery range in Townsville and had a shooting competition as a unit, and we won. … They also saw us out training and they saw what we could do.”50

Murphy recalls during predeployment training in Townsville, the battalion 2IC of 1 RNZIR appointed a warrant officer with a special forces background as liaison between the Irish contingent and his own headquarters. Murphy points out, “It was clear that an additional reason for the attachment of the support NCO was to assess our standards and settle any doubts that the 1 RNZIR command element may have had.”51 Part of Murphy’s role was that of liaison officer. This early exchange of liaison officers between the Irish platoon and the New Zealand battalion seems also to have been decisive in the initial generation of trust. As Murphy explains,

When this NCO met us, and started to talk with [our platoon HQ and team leaders] it became very clear, very quickly that all were talking the exact same operational language. … After a few hours with us it was noticeable how relaxed he was in our company and how all of the Irish soldiers treated him as one of their own. I’m sure that this got back to the battalion commander and 2IC and went some way to assuaging any fears they had that we wouldn’t fit in.52

Burnett remembers receiving initial reports of the Irish platoon: “I heard great stories of the arrival of the Irish platoon into the battalion main body in Townsville … there was real capability in that platoon, their training levels were high … and that gave us a lot of confidence.”53

Rogers notes that, “the trust built very quickly, just based on seeing their capability and confidence.”54 As the deployment progressed, and as IRCON 1 demonstrated increasing competence and reliability, the level of trust steadily increased. As Bravo Team leader recalls, “We always worked at nighttime when we patrolled … (we had good night vision) … we preferred to work at night. And that’s where I believe the trust was from: we were given missions, and we were never compromised.”55

Competence is a principle of mission command and a key ingredient in the generation of trust and a move toward a mission command-friendly environment. This appears to have been decisive in the integration of the Irish platoon.

What Made Mission Command Work in INTERFET?

The evidence above demonstrates how mission command manifested and developed in INTERFET, but there were a number of significant factors that were decisive in its successful application. The strong advocacy from leaders, the physical environment, and the existing habitual association all contributed to mission command’s effectiveness.

Advocacy for mission command doctrine and practice. INTERFET benefitted from the presence of strong advocates for mission command, commanders who not just practiced but championed the philosophy. The force commander himself was a strong advocate for mission command. As Cosgrove puts it, “There are some occasions where if you try to apply something other than Mission Command, you’re setting people up to fail.”56 The commander of 3rd Brigade—the Australian formation that 1 RNZIR was part of in INTERFET—was Brig. Mark Evans, who was also a strong advocate for mission command and had already adopted that command philosophy with his brigade. Evans recalls that 3rd Brigade deployed on preplanned brigade exercise earlier in 1999, a period that he considers key to the operational success seen later in East Timor.57 As he explains,

It was at [this exercise] that the foundations were put in place for us to operate using mission command as our command and control philosophy: mutual trust, a clear and universal understanding of our standard operating procedures and encouragement of initiative at all levels, and this became the hallmark of the brigade.58

Burnett notes that “Mark Evans was a great commander. He gave us a lot of leeway, a lot of opportunity to operate in the way that we wanted to operate. So I didn’t feel in the least bit constrained by the brigade headquarters.”59

Heavily laden soldiers of 5th Irish Contingent, drawn from the Irish Army’s 4th Infantry Battalion, return from a long-range patrol

As stated, New Zealanders were already practitioners of mission command, and Burnett recalls that they were “fully embracing Mission Command long before East Timor,” and for the New Zealand Army, it was “just the normal way people commanded.”60 The commanders of the two companies that the Irish platoons came under were particularly strong advocates of mission command. From Rogers’s perspective, “Mission Command was absolutely organic to how we worked—fundamental—and I’m a very strong advocate for Mission Command.”61 Howard observes, “In my experience, if you look at any military operation that has been planned, conducted, and executed under Mission Command, it produces better outcomes.”62 With such strong advocacy for mission command at all levels from force commander, through brigade, battalion, and company commanders, it was certainly a very positive environment for McEvoy to enter with his IRCON 1 platoon.

Impact of the environment on command. East Timor’s interior is a physically harsh mountainous environment that slowed internal communications.63 Alpha Team leader remembers one patrol: “It took us eight hours to travel something like four kilometers. It was just outrageous terrain.”64 This physical environment and the nature of the patrolling, which was conducted primarily by sections or platoons, meant the empowerment of junior leaders was critical.

Col. Colm Ó Luasa served as the officer in charge of IRCON 2’s ARW detachment, but also as Howard’s company 2IC.65 Ó Luasa explains how the restrictive nature of the terrain, particularly in terms of accessibility to the platoons operating from remote patrol bases, necessitated a mission command approach: “There was quite a large amount of Mission Command [which] was almost enforced simply by distance and accessibility … [The battalion was] spread over a large area and you couldn’t even drive by vehicle to all those areas.”66 For the New Zealand battalion, and for INTERFET more broadly, a hands-on, detailed command style simply could not be employed. Ó Luasa explains how Burnett overcame this challenge:

[The battalion commander] dealt with his command and control by having ‘prayers’ every evening on the radio. It was all verbal, over the radio, and each company would come up, give a SITREP, then he would ask a number of questions and then move on to the next company … He could give his intent and direction but he didn’t have the facility or the time to get into levels of detail required. So he gave his general direction and he let the company commanders deal with the detail.67

Therefore, mission command was the only real option for command and control in INTERFET. To attempt to impose himself on his subordinate commanders, a battalion or company commander would have a difficult journey over rough terrain, covering a lot of distance, thus necessitating a decentralized approach to command.

Habitual association and predeployment training. Australia and New Zealand enjoyed a shared military history and culture that includes the two nations routinely conducting combined joint training together. Burnett recalls an exercise where his unit familiarized themselves with 3rd Brigade:

I took over command of the battalion in 1997, and the first thing I did was I took the battalion to Australia to work with 3 Brigade on exercise. So we knew 3 Brigade—different commander, different key staff officers, but the same formation.”68

This familiarity was very beneficial upon arriving in East Timor, with some familiar faces and existing relationships to help 1 RNZIR integrate into the brigade. While the Irish platoon did not have the same access to such experiences, they did get the opportunity to conduct combined predeployment training in Townsville.


INTERFET can be regarded as an exemplar in terms of the practical application of mission command in a multinational force. A relatively unknown entity prior to INTERFET, the Irish platoon integrated successfully into the New Zealand battalion, which itself smoothly merged into the Australian brigade with which they were already familiar. Leaders from force commander to platoon commander espoused and practiced mission command, and the ARW team leaders were more than sufficiently experienced and competent to thrive in such a command-and-control environment. The physically harsh terrain slowed communication, and the distributed nature of 1 RNZIR necessitated a mission command approach. During combined predeployment training, demonstrations of competence and building of relationships at the lowest levels contributed to the rapid building of trust.

Notwithstanding the obvious benefits of shared military history and training, an outsider element can integrate successfully in a relatively short period of time, as long as enough commonality and competence exists in terms of culture, training, doctrine, tactics, etc.

For senior officers soon to take command of a multinational force, formation, or unit, the lessons learned from this case study are worthy of consideration. Of particular note is the importance of constantly communicating and contextualizing commanders’ intents, empowering subordinates with freedom to decide and act, and making a conscious effort to foster an environment of mutual trust. With these elements present mission command will not just succeed, it will flourish.


  1. Russell W. Glenn, “Mission Command in the Australian Army: A Contrast in Detail,” Parameters 47, no. 1 (Spring 2017): 21,; Anthony C. King, “Mission Command 2.0: From an Individualist to a Collectivist Model,” Parameters 47, no. 1 (Spring 2017): 7,
  2. Army Doctrine Publication (ADP) 6-0, Mission Command: Command and Control of Army Forces (Washington, DC: U.S. Government Publishing Office [GPO], 2019), 1-16.
  3. Mark Milley, as quoted in David Barno and Nora Bensahel, “Three Things the Army Chief of Staff Wants You to Know,” War on the Rocks, 23 May 2017,
  4. Ibid.
  5. David J. Devine, “The Trouble with Mission Command: Army Culture and Leader Assumptions,” Military Review 101, no. 5 (September-October 2021): 42,
  6. Joint Publication 3-16, Multinational Operations (Washington, DC: U.S. GPO, 2019), I-1.
  7. Field Manual 3-0, Operations (Washington, DC: U.S. GPO, 2022), 1-16.
  8. Tom Frame, ed., introduction to INTERFET: Lessons and Legacies from East Timor 20 Years On (Redland Bay, AU: Connor Court Publishing, 2020), 2; John Crawford and Glyn Harper, Operation East Timor: The New Zealand Defence Force in East Timor 1999-2001 (Auckland, NZ: Reed, 2001), 11.
  9. Crawford and Harper, Operation East Timor, 11; Kevin Riordan, “Peacekeeping Operations in East Timor: A New Zealand Legal Perspective,” New Zealand Armed Forces Law Review (October 2001): 20,
  10. Frame, INTERFET, 3.
  11. David Dickens, “The United Nations in East Timor: Intervention at the Military Operational Level,” Contemporary Southeast Asia 23, no. 2 (August 2001): 215,
  12. Marianne Jago, “InterFET: An Account of Intervention with Consent in East Timor,” International Peacekeeping 17, no. 3 (2010): 378,
  13. Dickens, “The United Nations in East Timor,” 216.
  14. Peter Cosgrove, My Story (Sydney: HarperCollins, 2006), 166, 167.
  15. Peter Cosgrove (retired general), in communication with the author, 28 September 2021.
  16. Cosgrove, My Story, 152.
  17. John Howard, “A Political Perspective,” in Frame, INTERFET, 3.
  18. UN Security Council, Resolution 1264, Establishment of Multinational Peace Force in East Timor, S/RES/1264 (1999).
  19. John Blaxland, “Information Era Manoeuvre: The Australian-Led Mission to East Timor,” Journal of Information Warfare 1, no. 3 (2002): 94,
  20. Crawford and Harper, Operation East Timor, 150.
  21. Kevin Burnett (retired colonel), in communication with the author, 7 October 2022.
  22. “International Agreements: Motion,” 509 Dáil Deb. 1 (12 October 1999) (Ir.),
  23. A pseudonym for the sergeant in charge of one of the four teams in the Army Ranger Wing platoon with the first Irish contingent; Bravo Team leader, in communication with the author, 23 August 2022.
  24. Benny McEvoy (retired lieutenant colonel), in communication with the author, 13 July 2022.
  25. Ibid.
  26. Jim Deery (retired captain), in communication with the author, 24 June 2022.
  27. Ray Goggins (retired sergeant), in communication with the author, 11 July 2022.
  28. Ray Murphy (colonel), email message to author, 2 September 2022.
  29. Ibid.; Alpha Team leader, in communication with the author, 23 August 2022; Bravo Team leader, communication.
  30. Murphy, email.
  31. John Howard (major general), in communication with the author, 18 July 2022.
  32. Ibid.
  33. ADP 6-0, Mission Command, 1-7.
  34. Peter Cosgrove, “The Commander’s Perspective,” in Frame, INTERFET, 79.
  35. Serge Desilva-Ranasinghe, “The Australian Army Has Certainly Evolved a Very Strong COIN Doctrine: Exclusive Interview with General Peter Cosgrove,” Asia Pacific Defence Reporter (2002) 36, no. 7 (September 2010): 33,
  36. Charles C. Krulak, “The Strategic Corporal: Leadership in the Three Block War,” Marine Corps Gazette 83, no. 1 (January 1999): 21,
  37. John Rogers (retired lieutenant colonel), in communication with the author, 2 September 2022.
  38. Burnett, communication.
  39. Rogers, communication.
  40. Eamonn Kenneally (retired commandant), in communication with the author, 13 July 2022.
  41. Ibid.
  42. Burnett, communication.
  43. Ibid.
  44. Rogers, communication.
  45. Howard, communication,
  46. Kenneally, communication.
  47. Cosgrove, communication.
  48. Alpha Team leader, communication.
  49. Burnett, communication.
  50. Alpha Team leader, communication.
  51. Murphy, email message.
  52. Ibid.
  53. Burnett, communication.
  54. Rogers, communication.
  55. Bravo Team leader, communication.
  56. Cosgrove, communication.
  57. Mark Evans, “A Tactical Commander’s Perspective,” in East Timor Intervention: A Retrospective on INTERFET, ed. John Blaxland (Melbourne, AU: Melbourne University Publishing, 2015): 99.
  58. Ibid., 100.
  59. Burnett, communication.
  60. Ibid.
  61. Rogers, communication.
  62. Howard, communication.
  63. A. Ryan, “The Strong Lead-Nation Model in an Ad-Hoc Coalition of the Willing: Operation Stabilize in East Timor,” International Peacekeeping 9, no. 1 (Spring 2002): 30,
  64. Alpha Team leader, communication.
  65. The very fact that an Irish officer was filling the role of second in command of a New Zealand company is testament to the high levels of professional trust that had developed between the two militaries by the time the second Irish contingent deployed.
  66. Colm Ó Luasa (colonel), in communication with the author, 28 June 2022.
  67. Ibid.
  68. Burnett, communication.


Commandant Gavin Egerton, Irish Army, is an infantry officer with twenty-one years of service. He has held command, staff, and training appointments at home and deployed overseas on operations on four occasions; once each to Chad and Mali, and twice to Lebanon. He holds an MA in political communication from Dublin City University and is completing a PhD in history from University College Cork, where his thesis title is “The Application of Mission Command in Multinational Forces.” He is currently a student on the Command and General Staff Officer Course at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.


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May-June 2024