Australia’s participation in the Pine Gap enterprise

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NAPSNet Special Report

Recommended Citation

Desmond Ball, Bill Robinson, and Richard Tanter, "Australia’s participation in the Pine Gap enterprise", NAPSNet Special Reports, June 08, 2016, http://nautilus.org/napsnet/napsnet-special-reports/australias-participation-in-the-pine-gap-enterprise/

Australia’s participation in the Pine Gap enterprise

Desmond Ball, Bill Robinson and Richard Tanter

9 June 2016

Full report available here [1.7 MB].

Summary

Australian participation in the operation of Pine Gap is effectively complete, with access to all areas of the base except the US National Cryptographic Room. The senior Australian Defence officials who negotiated the original implementing agreement with the CIA sought and obtained access to all ‘product’ from the facility. After initial discriminatory restrictions on Australians employed in the Operations Room, by the end of the 1970s, Australians were employed in all of its sections. Compared with arrangements at Pine Gap’s companion station in the United Kingdom, RAF Menwith Hill, Australian officials believe they have achieved a much more genuinely ‘joint’ facility, with command and employment arrangements exemplifying this. However, the fundamental realities are that not only does the vast bulk of tasking of satellites come from the United States and reflect its strategic priorities, but Australian participation in the base’s greatly expanded range of operations brings with it a measure of responsibility for the consequences of those operations.

Authors

Desmond Ball is Emeritus Professor at the Australian National University (ANU). He was a Special Professor at the ANU’s Strategic and Defence Studies Centre from 1987 to 2013, and he served as Head of the Centre from 1984 to 1991.

Bill Robinson writes the blog Lux Ex Umbra, which focuses on Canadian signals intelligence activities. He has been an active student of signals intelligence matters since the mid-1980s, and from 1986 to 2001 was on the staff of the Canadian peace research organization Project Ploughshares.

Richard Tanter is Senior Research Associate at the Nautilus Institute and Honorary Professor in the School of Political and Social Sciences at the University of Melbourne.

Cover photograph by Felicity Ruby (Attribution – NonCommercial CC BY-NC). See Felicity Ruby – The Fourth Eye, at http://FelicityRuby.com/.

Acknowledgements

We are very grateful to Dr Philip Dorling for providing access to copies of documents from the National Archives of Australia in his possession. Jeffrey Richelson generously provided us with important documents. We are also grateful to Andrew and Margaret Blakers for allowing us to reproduce photographs of their father, Gordon Blakers. Our thanks once again to Felicity Ruby for permission to use the cover image. Luke Hambly from the Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs at the Australian National University kindly prepared charts for this paper. We are once more grateful to Rebecca Pollack and Peter Hayes for making this publication possible.

Other papers in this series on Pine Gap are available at http://nautilus.org/briefing-books/australian-defence-facilities/pine-gap/the-pine-gap-project/.

The views expressed in this report do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Nautilus Institute. Readers should note that Nautilus seeks a diversity of views and opinions on significant topics in order to identify common ground.

II. Special Report by Desmond Ball, Bill Robinson and Richard Tanter

Australia’s participation in the Pine Gap enterprise

The full report is available here.

Contents

Acknowledgements……………………………………………………………………………………………….. 5

Glossary……………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 6

  1. Introduction: the transformation of the Australian role………………………………………….. 8
  2. The negotiations with the CIA, 1965-66……………………………………………………………… 10
  3. The beginning………………………………………………………………………………………………. 19
  4. Deputy Secretary (Intelligence and Security), Department of Defence……………………. 23
  5. Australian Defence Representatives and Deputy Chiefs of Facility………………………….. 32
  6. Deputy Chief of Operations, Chief of Intelligence Operations, and Mission Directors (MDs) 34
  7. Satellite control…………………………………………………………………………………………….. 36
  8. The Australian Signals Directorate (ASD)……………………………………………………………. 36
  9. The Australian Defence Imagery and Geospatial Organisation (DIGO)……………………… 41
  10. The Defence Science and Technology Organisation (DSTO), Salisbury……………………… 42
  11. The Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO)………………………………………. 45
  12. Operations………………………………………………………………………………………………….. 46
  13. Administration……………………………………………………………………………………………… 50
  14. Security………………………………………………………………………………………………………. 51
  15. Australian Federal Police (AFP)………………………………………………………………………… 53
  16. Australian contractors……………………………………………………………………………………. 56
  17. Australian contractors and construction activities………………………………………………… 60
  18. National Cryptographic Rooms………………………………………………………………………… 62
  19. Australia’s contribution to Pine Gap’s running costs…………………………………………….. 62
  20. Conclusion……………………………………………………………………………………………………. 65

II. Essay: Australia’s participation in the Pine Gap enterprise

1. Introduction: the transformation of the Australian role

There can no longer be any question about the completeness of Australian access to or concurrence in the activities undertaken at Pine Gap. Australians are now completely enmeshed into the management structure at the station, including with respect to management of operations, as embodied in the positions of Deputy Chief of Facility, Deputy Chief of Operations and Chief of Intelligence Operations. Within the Operations Room itself, Australians serve as Mission Directors and Team Leaders or Collection Operations Leads (COLs), while every team of interest has an Australian member.

This transformation reflects both the achievements of Australian governments in their efforts over decades to increase the Australian presence at the base on the one hand, and on the other the changing military and intelligence nature of the relationship between Australia and United States. Indeed, the pervasive Australian participation in the activities of Pine Gap now epitomises the networked, but fundamentally asymmetric character of the ANZUS alliance today. Australians may participate in all aspects of the base’s operations, including tasking satellite operations, but the fundamental realities are that not only does the vast bulk of tasking of satellites come from the United States and reflect its strategic priorities, but Australian participation in the base’s greatly expanded range of operations brings with it a measure of responsibility for the consequences of those operations.

Figure 1. Number of Australian and US personnel at Pine Gap, 1968-2015
PG june fig 1

About 420 Australians were stationed at the Joint Defence Facility Pine Gap in June 2008, of whom about 100 were Australian Government personnel, comprising about 50 engaged in Operations and 50 AFP Protective Services officers, and about 320 were employees of Australian contractors.

The full report is available here.

 

Nautilus invites your responses

The Nautilus Peace and Security Network invites your responses to this report. Please send your response to: nautilus@nautilus.org.

The views expressed in this report do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Nautilus Institute. Readers should note that Nautilus seeks a diversity of views and opinions on significant topics in order to identify common ground.


One thought on “Australia’s participation in the Pine Gap enterprise

  1. Australia has been successfully absorbed into the US military-industrial complex that President Eisenhower tried to warn against post WWII. Our major parties help the USA spy on us all (and the rest of the world) while our media keep silent about it. We are helping the USA build up to war against China in the #SouthChinaSea. We are spending $$$ billions on submarines and fighter jets. Meanwhile our govt argues that they cannot take the GST off tampons because they are luxury items. Julian Assange has become a political prisoner. There is no accountability for the lies that lead to the illegal invasion of Iraq. Neither major party takes climate change seriously. The torture of David Hicks is forgotten. We now torture asylum seekers. But all the vil our government does is “balanced” by the evil that the “terrorists” do. And who are these terrorists? People whose families were killed by missiles fired by US drones controlled by young Americans who remotely press the button on targets triangulated via Pine Gap? What have we become.

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