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Força 2020

Attached is the government of Timor-Leste's controversial Força 2020 (1.8 mb) plan for its military. Below are its "Conclusions and Recommendations."



The strategic guidelines for the development of the Armed Forces of Timor-Leste are based on the definition of the State’s strategic concepts and the fundamental principles of security and national stability, which should systematically converge in the defence of the national interests to achieve the State’s overall objective: Peace and Prosperity.

As with other Democratic States, the State of the RDTL is justified in using the national Armed Forces as a State resource to achieve constitutionally authorised missions. Within the scope of their mandate, the Forces must make themselves subordinate to the democratically elected political power, in terms of war or the defence of national sovereignty, and are deployed under the command of the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces (a legally constituted political authority). The internal deployment of the Armed Forces may only take place within the constitutional parameters envisaged in current laws.  

From a historic and geographic perspective, we have not neglected the past which holds a painful record of military conflicts. Irrespective of the ideological reasons and political and moral condemnation attributable to the strategic wars fought in Timor-Leste, it is the duty of historical leaders and scholars to objectively clarify the strategic factors and circumstances surrounding the motivations, conditions and reasons that expose the vulnerabilities of Timor-Leste when faced by third parties that use elements of dissension and violence to impose their geo-strategic, political and economic interests.

Guidelines for future national development must successfully integrate two interdependent components: the observance of a democratic State and the establishment of national political and ideological equilibrium in the regional and international context. Both require relevance with regard to the conceptual dispositions for defending the national interests within the ambit of global security.  

Geographically, the inclusion of Timor-Leste in the challenge of regional and global geo-strategic interest compromises national strategic guidelines, bringing with it constant external interference in the development of the Armed Forces, something which has happened systematically. External interference has been a notable drain on the institutional capital of the Armed Forces of Timor-Leste (FALINTIL-FDTL). The possible strategic modelling of the Armed Forces of Timor-Leste may also represent a unique vulnerability with regard to the geo-strategic interests of third countries.

Politically, this represents a vacillating and economic vulnerability for the future development of the Armed Forces of Timor-Leste, which depend on the serious interest of the State of RDTL in putting into perspective and creating a real, sustainable and enduring Nation, with worthy reasons for existing in the world. It is, however, appropriate to emphasise that the tactical innovations or strategies we adopt in the development of the Armed Forces - no matter how respectively exceptional or efficient they are - do not always automatically contribute towards achieving the State’s objectives. It is imperative to know how to deal with national interests and those of our neighbours.

Strategically, the Armed Forces of Timor-Leste represent the decisive guarantee of the security, sovereignty and independence of RDTL  as entrenched in the Constitution. National Defence is, unquestionably, a fundamental pillar for the construction and viability of the Nation.

The analysis of changes in the strategic environment of Timor-Leste linked with the definition of the interest of the existence of the State of RDTL, constitute the fundamental national policies for defining the framework of the Armed Forces in the national and global development dynamic.

Finally, it falls upon the people of Timor-Leste to question and respond to the relevance of Timor-Leste itself within the concept of global development. Will Timor-Leste have the conditions, in the third millennium, to be and remain a sovereign nation without interference from all and sundry? Or, simply stated, does Timor-Leste pledge as an economically unfeasible country to transform itself geo-strategically into a platform or satellite state of third parties and profit from the benefits imposed by third parties and/or benefit from revenue and the collection of taxes? The advantages and disadvantages are relative and disproportionate and further aggravated by symptoms of political and ideological persecution from the past that linger concealed in the vision of some Timor-Leste politicians in conceiving the development of Timor-Leste. Analysing and defining the paths of the future for Timor-Leste is something that the people of country must debate widely and openly among themselves. As a sovereign Nation, what is the value of Timor-Leste in the context of globalisation? How can Timor-Leste engage in the global economic dynamic? In what ways can Timor-Leste participate in and contribute to the development of the world?

In relation to the future of the Armed Forces of Timor-Leste, the State of the RDTL must employ special effort and dedication towards the development of the Armed Forces, through the prioritisation of structuring political decisions in relation to the legal framework, conceptual definitions and the concrete manifestation of technical and operational questions of a institutional character for the attainment of the Nation’s overall objectives.

Structuring Political Decisions and Conceptual Guidelines:


§          Prioritisation of the Defence Sector in planning the Significant Options for National Development with the integrated perspective of continental and maritime base guidelines, specially emphasising the development of the Light Naval Fosse of the Armed Forces;

§ Revision of the General State Budget (OGE) for the Defence sector, contemplating the development of the Armed Forces with strategic public investment;

  • Engagement of the competent organs of State in the definition of National Defence Policy and of the legislative framework and structural concept of the National Defence and Armed Forces sector. Namely: the National Defence and Armed Forces Law (LDNFA), Military Service Law (LSM), Defence Budget Law (LPM), Strategic Concept of National Defence (CEDN), National Strategic Concept (CEM), Missions of the Armed Forces, National Forces System and National Forces Mechanism. In addition to carry out a revision of the Organic Law of the F-FDTL in force, it is necessary to define an Organic Law of the Ministry of National Defence. And, to periodically issue Ministerial Directives on Military Defence to enable CEMGFA to update its Force planning;

  • It is important that the CEMGFA be appointed on the terms defined by law and given the legal powers to elaborate the Force Planning doctrine for the creation, training and maintenance of the Forces;

§         The procedures for Force Planning in the context of reorganising the Armed Forces of Timor-Leste must be supported by a coherent legislative structure, which brings together the new ideas that have been adopted and must aim to confer an prominently operational new dimension, enabling the Armed Forces to achieve a high standard of operational efficiency in the fulfilment of their various duties and responsibilities, both in a national and international context. This Force Planning and the definition of its objectives must be guided by analyses of the missions and current situation of the Armed Forces in an assessment of threats, risks and challenges that are envisaged in the short, medium and long term as well as in the dynamic characterisation of the potentials and vulnerabilities of the Forces, of both the country and its neighbours, referred to in the updated analysis of the strategic and operational environments of Timor-Leste;

§      From the perspective of the development of the forces, effective technical and administrative decisions must be taken for the procurement of adequate resources needed by the Armed Forces, according to the operational requirements for the fulfilment of missions;

§      Redefining the Specific Missions of the Armed Forces of Timor-Leste from the view of carrying out missions in the public interest, participating in humanitarian and peace missions under the United Nations, and in multilateral interests (ARF and CPLP);

  • Implementing structuring strategic decisions to correct omissions that have shaped the institutional character of the Armed Forces and Defence sector, from the recruitment of young men to the phasing out of the oldest members of the Armed Forces.

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Technical and Operational Questions

§         Prioritisation of the development of the Armed Forces according to the strategic environment for defining Timor-Leste’s military potential. Encompassing the volume of the force, nature of the force, type of force, the structure and system of the forces, the missions and mechanism of the forces in conformity with National Defence Policy objectives;

§          Establishing an adequate legal mechanism for implementing the Timor-Leste Forces Development Plan within the ambit of the proposal presented in this first strategic manuscript.  

§          Current Force contingent – the State authority must once again debate and provide new direction for the current authorised contingent versus the reduction and/or increase that the process of restructuring and remodelling the Force may imply;

§          Volume of the Force -  it is envisaged that the number of regular troops will reach 3,000 in 15 years (2020), taking into account the increased number of reserves available, in the event conscription is adopted as an option in the military service system of the Timor-Leste Armed Forces;  

§          Nature of the Force – defined in relation to the strategic environment conditions of Timor-Leste, may be redesigned in the following way:

o       Land Forces– Subdivision of the land forces into two branches: Operational Land Combat Forces (FOCT) and Land Defence Forces (FDT). Both comprise various types of forces: mechanised infantry, special forces, armoured combat support units, aerial combat support units and upgraded firepower. Engineering and mobile health services have been added to the land defence forces, followed by the later addition of light artillery forces. A light structured force added to the echelon of the companies that group or regroup themselves in Combined Response Companies (CMI) to form battle groups;

o       Light Naval Force– the current structure of the naval component will be remodelled in phases into two branches, Operational Naval Combat Forces (FOCN – the Naval Marines) and the Naval Force, in addition to the logistics and training and development branches. It is a structure for the assertion and defence of the permanent strategic interests of Timor-Leste that is capable of operating together with neighbouring and allied countries in the context of defence and joint security;

o       Updating the structures of the Armed Forces General Command Headquarters, of Training and Development and other structures that depend on the control of the Support and Service Component, in accordance with the proposal presented by GE F2020. 

  • Strengthening Institutional Training to shape military and conventional institutional character. Preparing the structural and legal technical conditions for the phasing out of older members and focusing on training and developing new members of the armed forces;

§          Within the context of consolidating the Forces, it is necessary to organise an operational force as a matter of priority, ready to intervene from the new 2007 to 2010 fiscal year, defined as the Land Forces and Light Naval Force and which are characterised by a high level of readiness, adequately sized to the reality of the country and able, if required, to be seconded outside the country in Task Force units for peace and humanitarian missions; 

§          Creation of a body with a legal basis – Audit Committee – a legal body comprised of members of the National Parliament and respective members of the security and defence institutions with the authority to guarantee institutional transparency, specifically in the process of auditing the procurement process for warfare equipment and materials and in monitoring the evident political problems in defence and security institutions;

  • When commissioning Studies on Defence, the State must maintain the Think-Tank method for studying and advising on military defence material, including details for the procurement of warfare equipment and materials recommended for the Armed Forces of Timor-Leste. A national Defence Consultant model would also be advisable;
  • In the event Compulsory Military Service is the chosen option, it will be advisable to create a small-scale domestic defence industry, with the aim of producing uniforms and footwear, dry rations, munitions and other military articles and basic necessities for use in training and development;
  • National and international suppliers of the Military Defence Industry must possess a safety and quality diploma (company certification diploma), recognised (and/or accredited) by the RDTL Government, as a prerequisite for participation in tenders for warfare equipment.




Graphic from Força 2020

Ministry of National Defence

·          The Ministry of National Defence must guide the development of the Force in accordance with the National Defence Policy that defines the CEDN and determines bilateral and multilateral cooperation alliances in the scope of the national interest;

·          The Ministry of National Defence must abandon the premises established in international donor conferences on the Defence of Timor-Leste;

·          The Ministry of National Defence must coordinate inter-ministerial meetings for the implementation of National Defence Policy, particularly with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation in order to ensure a single direction for the established policy of bilateral and multilateral cooperation;

·          The Ministry of National Defence must present a plan for the necessary development of the Armed Forces and establish programmes within the framework of Military Programming for Cooperation.


§          The CEMGFA Force Plan will refer to the study of costs and benefits and the technical details of the operational requirements for the preparation of the Force;

§          The CEMGFA must plan for the participation of the Timor-Leste Armed Forces in international commitments through humanitarian and peace Missions under the United Nations;      

§          The CEMGFA must form workgroups, specifically to prepare the structural adjustment for the Forces Development Plan (PDF); the military budget, the procurement of equipment and arms (combat support units and integrated tactical and strategic communications system); the evaluation of training and development for the new Force plan.


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