Australian Forces Abroad

Documentation of Australian police and armed services personnel on overseas missions is often scattered and difficult to find. As a contribution towards informed debate on Australian defence and security policy, these briefing books aim to bring the available material together in a coherent and comprehensive manner.

Note: For budgetary reasons, most sections of this Briefing Book, other than Australian Defence Facilities  and Australia in Iraq ceased being updated in December 2010.

The purpose of the Australian Forces Abroad series of online briefing books is to document the activities of Australian military, police and intelligence forces abroad and the policies and legal structures that govern those activities. Public discussion of those – and future – deployments is severely constrained without extensive and reliabe information about the basis of policy and its consequences. There are remarkably few organised and accessible public collections of information about Australian military activities in Afghanistan – or for that matter any other current theatre of military or police operations. There are no collections of contending policy analyses or even of basic documents. This lack of information inhibits informed community discussion, and encourages the incorrect belief that there is no reliable information available to the public.

These websites are documentary in intention: analysis is kept to a minimum in editorial introductions to particular pages. Our intention is to direct the reader to sources we believe are useful to understanding the role of Australian military, police and intelligence personnel in particular conflicts. All sources used in the Briefing Books are public. However, unorganised knowledge effectively is unusable for practical purposes. Our contribution to public debate is to find those sources, organise them in a rational manner, and offer them to the public. We also hope to encourage readers to take the work further themselves.

We are also grateful for assistance from wide range of readers and technical specialists.

See also: Documenting our forgotten war: Australia in Afghanistan, Richard Tanter, Arena Magazine 90, August – September 2007, pp 90-91.

Note: Corrections and updates are welcome:

Australia in Afghanistan

As of February 2009, there were are approximately 1080 Australian Defence Forces (ADF) personnel serving in Afghanistan as part of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation-led (NATO) International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).


As of November 2014, there were approximately 600 ADF personnel  operating in Iraq or in air operations over Iraq, and another 800 command and support personnel at the ADF regional headquarters at Al Minhad Air Base in the UAE.

Australia in the Pacific Islands

Multi-country programs that operate in the region, such as the Law Enforcement Co-operation Program (LECP), the AFP’s Pacific Transnational Crime Network, or the Pacific Patrol Boat Program.

Australia in the Solomon Islands

As of mid-2009, there were are 140 Australian military personnel serving in Solomon Islands as part of RAMSI, together with members of the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and more than 150 civilian advisors.

Australia in Timor-Leste (East Timor)

Following the 1999 INTERFET deployment and Timor-Leste’s 2002 independence, Australia has maintained police, military and intelligence forces in Timor. As of mid-2009, there were about 650 ADF personnel, together with AFP officers deployed in support of the United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT).

Australia in Tonga

Following its 2006 intervention in Tonga, Australia supports training programs for Tonga’s police and military services as part of an extensive Defence Cooperation Program with the island nations of the Pacific.

Australian Bases Abroad

Locations of Australian Defence Force (ADF) elements outside Australia, including ADF bases, and locations used by the ADF. (Includes links to bases on Australian territory closely related to ADF deployments abroad.

Australian Defence Facilities

Australian defence facilities listings and selected defence facilities, including the Australian Defence Satellite Communications Station, Kojarena, Bamaga Signals Intelligence Station, Borneo Barracks, Cabarlah, Bradshaw Field Training Area, Cocos Island Signals Intelligence Station, Cowley Beach Training Area, Cultana Training Range, Darwin port, RAAF Base Darwin, US Marine Rotational Force – Darwin, Delamere Air Weapons Range, Headquarters Joint Operations Command, HMAS Stirling, Headquarters Special Operations Command, Joint Combined Training Centre (JCTC), Lancelin Defence Training Area, Majura International Training Complex, Mount Bundey Training Area, Naval Communication Station Harold E. Holt (North West Cape), Pine Gap Joint Defence Facility, RAAF Base Curtin, RAAF Base Scherger, Robertson Barracks, Shoal Bay Receiving Station, Swan Island Training Area, and Yampi Sound Training Area.

Common elements

Elements of ADF, AFP, intelligence agencies, and Department of Defence relevant to deployments abroad

Launch of the Australian Forces Forces Abroad Briefing Books

Speeches by High White and Tom Hyland at the launch of the Australian Forces Forces Abroad Briefing Books, RMIT University, 26 June 2009.