Peace Time: November 1, 2001


Australia is being inundated with smugglers, who bring in both drugs and illegal immigrants. The military was given a three-week mission to patrol the coasts and see how bad the problem was. Patrol boats, frigates, and maritime patrol aircraft combed the coastlines and found so many security problems that the mission was extended indefinitely. It was almost unknown that Indonesian fishing boats had been looting Australian waters of thousands of tons of fish without the required permits, depleting local fishing stocks and violating rules intended to keep an active breeding population in the ocean. Another previously unknown problem was dozens of small aircraft flying into Australia at night and low altitude for reasons not known. The opposition Labour Party has made a campaign issue (elections are in November) out of its demand to create a permanent paramilitary "Coast Guard" force to close the frontier. Australia has huge coastlines, and hundreds of miles of the northern coast was not seen by human eyes for weeks at a time until the new military patrols began. --Stephen V Cole


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