Official History of Australian Peacekeeping, Humanitarian and Post-Cold War Operations

The Official History of Australian Peacekeeping, Humanitarian and Post-Cold War Operations is the official history of Australia's military and civilian involvement in peacekeeping since 1947 as well as military operations in the years after the end of the Cold War. The series is being jointly produced by the Australian War Memorial and Australian National University, with Professor David Horner serving as its general editor. It is planned that the series will comprise six volumes.[1]

Official History of Australian Peacekeeping, Humanitarian and Post-Cold War Operations
Australia and the New World Order cover - Fair use claimed
Cover of Volume II, Australia and the 'New World Order': From Peacekeeping to Peace Enforcement, 1988–1991
AuthorDavid Horner (general editor)
GenreOfficial history
military history
PublisherCambridge University Press
Publication date
Preceded byThe Official History of Australia's Involvement in Southeast Asian Conflicts 1948–1975 
Followed byOfficial History of Australian Operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, and Australian Peacekeeping Operations in East Timor 


Volume 1: The Long Search for Peace (1947–1987)
Forthcoming publication. Written by Peter Londey to cover peacekeeping and observer missions between 1947 and 1987, including Indonesia, Kashmir, the Middle East, the Congo, Cyprus, and Rhodesia/Zimbabwe.

Volume 2: Australia and the New World Order (1988–1991)
Published by Cambridge University Press in 2011 and written by David Horner. Covers peace operations between 1988 and 1991 including Namibia, Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan, the Persian Gulf and Kuwait.

Volume 3: The Good International Citizen (1991–1993)
Published by Cambridge University Press in 2014 and written by David Horner and John Connor. Covers peacekeeping in Asia, Africa and Europe between 1991 and 1993 including Iraq (humanitarian operations, sanctions, and weapons inspection) Cambodia, Western Sahara and former Yugoslavia.

Volume 4: The Limits of Peacekeeping (1992–2005)
Published by Cambridge University Press in 2019 and written by Jean Bou, Bob Breen, David Horner, Garth Pratten and Miesje de Vogel. Covers peacekeeping missions between 1992 and 2005, including Somalia, Mozambique, Rwanda, Haiti, Eritrea, Guatemala, Sierra Leone and Sudan.

Volume 5: The Good Neighbour (1980–2006)
Published by Cambridge University Press in 2016 and written by Bob Breen. Covers peace support operations in the Pacific Islands between 1980 and 2006, including Bougainville, Solomon Islands, and other deployments.

Volume 6: In Their Time of Need (1918–2006)
Published by Cambridge University Press in 2017. Written by Steven Bullard to cover overseas emergency relief operations between 1918 and 2006, including Papua New Guinea, Sumatra, Pakistan, Iran, and various Pacific nations.

Development and publication

In 2002 the Australian War Memorial (AWM) engaged Professor David Horner to investigate the feasibility of developing an official history of Australian peacekeeping activities.[2] The Howard Government subsequently approved this project in 2004, and appointed Horner to be the official historian. However, it did not allocate any funding for the series. An arrangement was eventually negotiated whereby the Department of Defence paid Horner's salary, and the AWM and Australian Research Council also contributed funds to cover other costs.[3]

Volume II, entitled Australia and the 'New World Order': From Peacekeeping to Peace Enforcement, 1988–1991, was the first work in the series to be published and was released in February 2011.[4] The book was officially launched by Foreign Minister and former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd on 11 April.[5][6] Volume III, The Good International Citizen: Australian Peacekeeping in Asia, Africa and Europe 1991–1993, was published in 2014 and launched by Minister for Defence David Johnston on 2 July that year.[7]

The completion of the series has been delayed, with Horner attributing this to a shortage of funding. By 2014 all the funding for the project had been spent, and Volume V, The Good Neighbour: Australian Peace Support Operations in the Pacific Islands 1980–2006, had been awaiting clearance by government agencies since 2011. Volume VI, In Their Time of Need: Australian Overseas Emergency Relief Operations, was completed in 2015. During 2015 the Department of Defence provided additional funding for the project after being encouraged to do so by Prime Minister Tony Abbott. After this money became available work on the two remaining volumes resumed, and they are scheduled to be published during 2016.[8] Volume V was published in July 2016.[9]

From an early stage in the project Horner sought to have an additional volume added to the series covering Australia's involvement in peacekeeping operations in East Timor, as well as the War in Afghanistan and Iraq War.[10][11] The AWM eventually commissioned a study into the feasibility of an official history of these engagements in 2011, which Horner completed in 2012. However, efforts to gain government approval for the project were delayed by the two changes in the prime ministership during 2013. A separate series was eventually authorised by the Abbott Government in April 2015,[11] and $12.8 million was allocated to the AWM for the Official History of Australian Operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, and Australian Peacekeeping Operations in East Timor as part of the 2015–16 federal budget.[12]


  1. ^ "Official History of Peacekeeping, Humanitarian and Post–Cold War Operations". Official Histories. Australian War Memorial. Retrieved 5 July 2014.
  2. ^ Horner 2016, p. 127.
  3. ^ Horner 2016, p. 128.
  4. ^ "Australia and the New World Order". Catalogue. Cambridge University Press. Retrieved 15 February 2011.
  5. ^ "Launch of "Australia and the New World Order: From Peacekeeping to Peace Enforcement: 1988–1991". Australian War Memorial. Retrieved 1 May 2011.
  6. ^ Rudd, Kevin. "Speech at the launch of the Official History of Peacekeeping, Humanitarian and post-Cold War Operations (Volume II)". Speech. Retrieved 1 May 2011.
  7. ^ "Defence Minister David Johnston launches Australian War Memorial's official history of peacekeeping". Media release. Senator the Hon David Johnston Minister for Defence. Retrieved 5 July 2014.
  8. ^ Horner 2016, p. 133.
  9. ^ Breen, Bob (5 July 2016). "Launch of 'The Good Neighbour: Australian Peace Support Operations in the Pacific Islands 1980–2006' Volume V of the Official History of Australian Peacekeeping, Humanitarian and Post-Cold War Operations". Talks and speeches. Australian War Memorial. Retrieved 31 August 2016.
  10. ^ Edwards, Peter (22 September 2014). "A century of official war histories". The Strategist. Australian Strategic Policy Institute. Retrieved 11 April 2015.
  11. ^ a b Horner 2016, p. 134.
  12. ^ "National Search for Official History Begins". Media release. Senator the Hon. Michael Ronaldson. 18 June 2015. Retrieved 17 August 2016.
Works consulted

Further reading

  • Horner, David (2008). "Chronicling the peacekeepers: Problems of writing the official history of Australian peacekeeping, humanitarian and post-Cold War operations". History Australia. 5 (1): 10.1–10.11. doi:10.2104/ha080010.
5th Aviation Regiment (Australia)

The 5th Aviation Regiment (5 Avn Regt) is an Australian Army aviation unit. Formed in 1987 after the Army took over responsibility for operating helicopters from the Royal Australian Air Force, the regiment is based at RAAF Base Townsville, in Queensland. It currently forms part of the 16th (Aviation) Brigade and it operates the majority of the Army's transport helicopters. Throughout its existence, the regiment has been deployed overseas numerous times, supporting both peacekeeping and warlike operations. Since its formation elements of the regiment have made operational deployments to Cambodia, Papua New Guinea, East Timor, Iraq, Indonesia and Pakistan.

Australian contribution to the 1991 Gulf War

Australia was a member of the international coalition which contributed military forces to the 1991 Gulf War, also known as Operation Desert Storm. More than 1800 ADF personnel were deployed to the Persian Gulf from August 1990 to September 1991. In August 1990, two frigates HMAS Adelaide and HMAS Darwin and the replenishment ship HMAS Success left for the Persian Gulf. HMAS Success had no air defences so the Army 16th Air Defence Regiment deployed on this ship. On 3 December 1990, HMAS Brisbane and HMAS Sydney (IV) relieved HMAS Adelaide and HMAS Darwin. On 26 January 1991, HMAS Westralia replaced HMAS Success. A Navy Clearance diving team was also deployed for explosive ordnance and demolition tasks. Australian ships were in danger of mines and possible air attacks. In a number of recorded incidents, HMAS Brisbane encountered free floating mines, on one occasion narrowly avoiding a collision. Both HMA Ships Brisbane and Sydney encountered significant air threat warnings from Iran and Iraq throughout the initial period of the commencement of the Desert Storm Campaign. The detection of land based silkworm missiles from Iran throughout the campaign also added to the challenges for both crews as well as the multi-national Naval Forces.

In addition to the naval contingent, Australian service personnel were seconded to British and United States ground troops. The government position was not to deploy ground troops with "no boots in the sand". The RAAF deployed a unit of photo-interpreters which were based in Saudi Arabia. Four medical teams were also deployed. At the end of Desert Storm, 75 ADF personnel were deployed to Northern Iraq to assist in the provision of humanitarian aid to the Kurds living in the UN-declared exclusion zone.Whilst there were no casualties of ADF personnel during the Gulf War, a significant number of Australian Gulf War veterans appear to continue to suffer from Gulf War illness.

Australian military involvement in peacekeeping

Australian military involvement in peacekeeping operations has been diverse, and included participation in both United Nations sponsored missions, as well as those as part of ad hoc coalitions. Indeed, Australians have been involved in more conflicts as peacekeepers than as belligerents; however, according to Peter Londey "in comparative international terms, Australia has only been a moderately energetic peacekeeper." To be sure even though Australia has had peacekeepers in the field continuously for 60 years – the first occasion being in Indonesia in 1947, when Australians were among the very first group of UN military observers – its commitments have generally been limited, consisting of small numbers of high-level and technical support troops (e.g. signals, engineers or medical units) or observers and police. David Horner has noted that the pattern changed with the deployment of 600 engineers to Namibia in 1989–90 as the Australian contribution to UNTAG. From the mid-1990s, Australia has been involved in a series of high-profile operations, deploying significantly large units of combat troops in support of a number of missions including those in Cambodia, Rwanda, Somalia and later in East Timor. Australia has been involved in close to 100 separate missions, involving more than 30,000 personnel and 10 Australians have died during these operations.

Bougainville Civil War

The Bougainville Civil War, also known as the Bougainville conflict, was a multi-layered armed conflict fought from 1988 to 1998 in the North Solomons Province of Papua New Guinea (PNG) between PNG and the secessionist forces of the Bougainville Revolutionary Army (BRA), and between the BRA and other armed groups on Bougainville. The conflict was described by John Momis as the largest conflict in Oceania since the end of World War II in 1945, with an estimated 15,000 to 20,000 Bougainvilleans dead.

Hostilities concluded under the Bougainville Peace Agreement in 1998. The national (PNG) government agreed to the founding of the Autonomous Bougainville Government and to certain rights and authorities which the autonomous government would have over what became known as Bougainville Province, which includes outlying small islands in addition to Bougainville Island itself.

David Horner

David Murray Horner, (born 12 March 1948) is an Australian military historian and academic.


FCU – UNTAC, the Force Communications Unit UNTAC (United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia), was the Australian component of the UNTAC mission in Cambodia.

John Cantwell (general)

Major General John Patrick Cantwell, (born 9 October 1956) is a retired senior Australian Army officer.

List of Royal Australian Air Force wings

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March 1989 geomagnetic storm

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No. 97 Wing RAAF

No. 97 Wing was a temporary formation established on 24 October 1997 to command the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) elements deployed for drought relief purposes to Papua New Guinea during Operation Ples Drai. It was led by Wing Commander Chris Richards, who was also the commander of the Air Component of Joint Task Force 105 which had been established for this operation.The size of the Air Component varied over time, but the RAAF aircraft assigned to it typically included two Lockheed C-130 Hercules and three de Havilland Canada DHC-4 Caribou transport aircraft. The Air Component usually also included three Sikorsky S-70 Black Hawk and two Boeing CH-47 Chinook helicopters provided by the Australian Army, and was staffed by around 100 personnel.All of the aircraft assigned to Operation Ples Drai returned to Australia in April 1998.

Official History of Australian Operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, and Australian Peacekeeping Operations in East Timor

The Official History of Australian Operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, and Australian Peacekeeping Operations in East Timor is an Australian official history series currently under preparation. It was approved by the Australian Government in 2015, and is due to be completed by mid-2022.

Official history

An official history is a work of history which is sponsored, authorised or endorsed by its subject. The term is most commonly used for histories which are produced for a government. The term also applies to commissions from non-state bodies as company histories, i.e. histories of commercial companies. An official biography (one written with the permission, cooperation and perhaps participation of its subject or the subject's heirs) is often known as an authorized biography.

Official histories frequently have the advantage that the author or authors have been given access to archives, allowed to interview subjects and use other primary sources that would be closed to independent historians. Because of the necessarily close relationship between author and subject, such works may be (or be perceived to be) partisan in tone and to lack historical objectivity. Such bias varies and some official histories are little more than exercises in public relations or propaganda; in other cases the authors have retained sufficient independence to be able to express negative as well as positive judgements about their subjects.

Operation Morris Dance

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On the morning of 14 May 1987 the Military of Fiji took control of the country in a bloodless coup d'état. In response to the coup, the Australian Defence Force (ADF) began preparations to evacuate Australian citizens from Fiji. Five Australian warships (HMA Ships Stalwart, Sydney, Parramatta, Success, and Tobruk) were deployed to patrol south-west of Fiji. 'B' Company, 1st Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment was added to this force on 23 May, with the soldiers being flown from Townsville to Norfolk Island and transferred by helicopter to Stalwart, Tobruk, and Success. The Australian task force remained off Fiji until 29 May, when the situation in the country had stabilised.

Operation Quickstep

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Three ships of the Royal Australian Navy were deployed to the South-west Pacific, taking up station in international waters near Fiji, while several military transport aircraft were kept on standby.

Peace Monitoring Group

The Peace Monitoring Group (PMG) on Bougainville in Papua New Guinea was brought about by the civil unrest on the island in 1989. The PNG government requested the Australian and New Zealand governments to provide a monitoring group to oversee the cease fire on the island. This group was made up of both civilian and defence personnel from Australia, New Zealand, Fiji and Vanuatu. Both sides of the conflict welcomed the group being on Bougainville. This support remained strong throughout the PMG's deployment. The PMG played a role in facilitating the peace process on 30 April 1998 and took over from the New Zealand Truce Monitoring Group which then departed.

The Bougainville Peace Agreement decreed that all personnel should be withdrawn from the island by December 2002. However, the group's presence was extended by the applicable governments and withdrew completely by 23 August 2003. A much smaller Bougainville Transition Team (with orange T-shirts) succeeded the PMG but has now also withdrawn. Australian police and civilian advisers have subsequently served on Bougainville as part of Australian government assistance to Papua New Guinea.

The PMG was unarmed and had no specific legal power (though it did have a mandate under the Lincoln Agreement). It remained definitively neutral at all times. In the early stages of its deployment, it acted primarily as a ceasefire monitoring group and spread information about developments in the peace process. Following the Bougainville Peace Agreement, the PMG focused primarily on facilitating the weapons disposal program, in co-operation with the small UN Observer Mission on Bougainville (UNOMB). There was also some logistical support given to the constitutional consultation and drafting process from 2003.

Support was provided to the group via use of the Loloho wharf on the eastern side of the island by naval vessels from Australia and New Zealand as well as the Kieta airfield by RNZAF C-130 Hercules and four RNZAF Bell UH-1 Iroquois. Additional helicopters were also UH-1 Iroquois supplied by the Australian Army, which were painted bright red for visibility, were utilised to ferry personnel to inland villages inaccessible by foot or vehicle. Later, air mobility was outsourced to Hevilift, which provided two Bell 212 helicopters. PMG Personnel wore bright yellow shirts and hats so that everyone on the island was aware of their presence.

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Peter Edwards (historian)

Peter Geoffrey Edwards, AM (born 29 August 1945) is an Australian diplomatic and military historian. Educated at the University of Western Australia and the University of Oxford, Edwards worked for the Department of Foreign Affairs, the Australian National University and the University of Adelaide before being appointed Official Historian and general editor of The Official History of Australia's Involvement in Southeast Asian Conflicts 1948–1975 in 1982. The nine-volume history was commissioned to cover Australia's involvement in the Malayan Emergency, Indonesia–Malaysia confrontation and Vietnam War. Edwards spent fourteen years at the Australian War Memorial (AWM) writing two of the volumes, while also researching, editing, and dealing with budget limitations and problems with staff turnover. Since leaving the AWM in 1996, Edwards has worked as a senior academic, scholar and historical consultant. In 2006 his book Arthur Tange: Last of the Mandarins won the Queensland Premier's History Book Award and the Western Australian Premier's Book Award for Non-Fiction.

Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands

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Major General Roger John Noble, (born c. 1965) is a senior officer in the Australian Army. He joined the army via the Australian Defence Force Academy in 1984 and was commissioned into the Royal Australian Armoured Corps. He has commanded the 2nd Cavalry Regiment (c. 2004–05), Al Muthanna Task Group (2005) and the 3rd Brigade (2013–15), and has deployed six times on operations to East Timor, Afghanistan and Iraq. He was seconded to the United States Army in 2016 and served as Deputy Coalition Land Force Commander, Iraq, as part of Operation Inherent Resolve, and subsequently as Deputy Commanding General – North in the United States Army Pacific (2017–19). He assumed his current appointment as Deputy Chief of Joint Operations in 2019.

The Official History of Australia's Involvement in Southeast Asian Conflicts 1948–1975

The Official History of Australia's Involvement in Southeast Asian Conflicts 1948–1975 covers Australia's involvement in the Malayan Emergency, Indonesia–Malaysia confrontation and Vietnam War. The series is an official history and was funded by the Australian Government and published by Allen & Unwin in association with the Australian War Memorial. Peter Edwards was appointed the official historian for the series in 1982. The series comprises nine volumes, which were published between 1992 and 2012. A single-volume summary of the series, Australia and the Vietnam War, was published in 2014.

The coverage of the effects of Agent Orange in volume 3 of the series has been criticised by some Australian veterans of the Vietnam War, who argue that it presented veterans who sought compensation as being dishonest. In 2015 the Australian War Memorial commissioned a book to consider the long-term effects of Agent Orange on veterans' health, as well other medical effects of the war.

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