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United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia
The four groups were the Vietnamese-installed government of the State of Cambodia (SOC) which was supported by the Cambodian People's Armed Forces (CPAF); the communist Democratic Kampuchea (DK - commonly known as the Khmer Rouge) which is supported by the National Army of Democratic Kampuchea (NADK); and the two non communist factions, the Khmer People's National Liberation Front (KPNLF) which was supported by Khmer People's National Liberation Armed Forces (KPNLAF); and the United Front for an Independent, Neutral, Peaceful and Cooperative Cambodia (FUNCINPEC) which was supported by the National Army of Independent Cambodia (ANKI).
In August 1989, the UN proposed an observer mission to monitor the withdrawal of Vietnamese forces from Cambodia and supervise an internal peace process between the four factions. From 6–22 August 1989, two Australian officers were deployed to Thailand and Cambodia on the UN reconnaissance team planning the mission.
In late March 1992, UNTAC was established under the 1991 Paris Agreements to supervise a cease-fire and general election in Cambodia. Australian diplomacy during 1989–1991 assisted the successful conclusion of the Agreements.
United Nations Advance Mission in Cambodia
In October 1991, prior to UNTAC being formally established in United Nations Security Council Resolution 717. On 10 November 1991 45 Australian Army personnel flew to Cambodia as part of Australias advanced party to UNAMIC. The advanced party established an Australian HQ and provided basic radio communications to the 4 military factions headquarters. Australia contributed a 65-strong communications unit to its precursor, the UN Advance Mission in Cambodia (UNAMIC). The Australians (under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Russell Stuart) were among the first UN troops in Cambodia, to provide communications support to UNAMIC which was tasked to set in motion the peace process and pave the way for the deployment of UNTAC. UNAMIC's mandate ended in March 1992 and was absorbed into UNTAC at its establishment in United Nations Security Council Resolution 745.
United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia
On UNTACs establishment, the Australian Defence Force contingent increased to 502 personnel, comprising the 488 strong Force Communications Unit (FCU) and 14 staff on HQ UNTAC spread out across 60 locations throughout Cambodia. The FCU was originally based on the 2nd Signal Regiment (based in Watsonia, Melbourne), but reinforced from many other units, including 20 personnel each from the RAN and the RAAF. The FCU also included a further 40 New Zealand personnel. UNTAC's military component comprised some 16,000 personnel from 32 countries. The Force Commander of this operation was Australia's Lieutenant General J.M. Sanderson AC.
Since 1991 when the original Australian UNAMIC contingent provided the communications network between the four Cambodian factions' military headquarters and the UNAMIC headquarters, the task of the Australians mushroomed under its UNTAC mandate. To achieve those tasks, the FCU based its RHQ in Phnom Penh (Pteah Kangaroo), along with the headquarters of its administrative squadron and 1 Sig Sqn (Pteah Australii). 2 Sig Sqn was based in the northern provincial capital of Battambang. The FCU was spread across 56 locations throughout Cambodia and was the only unit to serve in Cambodia to see more action than any other UN unit. Other major FCU locations included Siem Reap, Kampong Som, Banteay Meanchey, Khu, Kampong Cham, Kampong Thom, Pailin and Sisophon.
From 11 May to 9 September 1992, a Movement Control Group (MCG) comprising seven RAN, 16 Army and seven RAAF personnel joined UNTAC. The MCG included a headquarters and nine three person teams, and coordinated the reception and movement of forces during UNTAC's main deployment phase. From 15 May to 19 July 1993, Australia contributed a further 115 troops and six S70A Blackhawk helicopters, with the deployment of a squadron from 5 Aviation Regiment and an infantry platoon protection party from the 2/4th Battalion, the Royal Australian Regiment.
After the elections, UNTAC was closed on 15 November 1993 and replaced by the United Nations Military Liaison Team (UNMLT). UNMLT comprises 20 military observers and their task is to maintain close liaison with the Cambodian Government and report to the Secretary-General on matters affecting security in Cambodia and also assisting the Government in dealing with residual military matters related to the Paris Agreement. UNMLT was established for a single period of six months. Military Observers are eligible to receive the UNTAC medal.