August 20, 2011 marked the tenth anniversary of the founding of the FALINTIL, the armed resistance to the Indonesian occupation of Timor-Leste.
Following Timor’s independence in 1999, the freedom fighters of the Falintil were integrated into the new nation’s Defense Forces. Under the guidance of General Taur Matan Ruak and the oversight of Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao, they developed from a skilled guerilla force into members of a technically capable modern armed forces.
On the August 20 anniversary, the FALINTIL were officially decommissioned and demobilized. In a speech to the FALINTIL members, President José Ramos-Horta discussed the development of their technical capabilities and professionalism of the new nation’s armed forces, exemplified by the fact that a Timorese military engineering unit will shortly be deployed in the United Nations Mission in Lebanon.
Notably, the decommissioning ceremony was attended by a high level Indonesian delegation including former Vice-President Try Sutrisno, pointed out by Ramos-Horta as as exemplary of “the friendship between our two countries and the way our two governments look forward with confidence to the future.”
Australian General Peter Cosgrove, former leader of the UN Peacekeeping force into Timor in 1999, whom Ramos-Horta called “a good friend of our country,” also attended.