This post is not about the conspiracy stories that surround Pine Gap. This is my effort to describe what is actually known about perhaps the most secretive military base on the face of the Earth.
Let’s start with what is known.
Coordinates 23.799°S 133.737°E
Pine Gap is the commonly used name for a satellite tracking station approximately 18 kilometres (11 mi) south-west of the town of Alice Springs in the centre of Australia which is operated by both Australia and the United States. Since 1988 it has been officially called the Joint Defence Facility Pine Gap; previously, it was known as Joint Defence Space Research Facility.
Operations started in 1970 when about 400 American families moved to Central Australia. In 1999, with the Australian Government refusing to give details to an Australian Senate committee on treaties, intelligence expert Professor Des Ball from the Australian National University was called to give an outline of Pine Gap. According to Professor Ball, since 9 December 1966 when the Australian and United States governments signed the Pine Gap treaty, Pine Gap had grown from the original two antennae to about eighteen in 1999. The number of staff had increased from around 400 in the early 1980s to 600 in the early 1990s and then to an expected 1,000. The biggest expansion occurred after the end of the Cold War.
Ball described the facility as the ground control and processing station for geosynchronous satellites engaged in signals intelligence collection, outlining four categories of signals collected:
telemetry from advanced weapons development, such as ballistic missiles, used for arms control verification;
signals from anti-missile and anti-aircraft radars;
transmissions intended for communications satellites; and
microwave emissions, such as long-distance telephone calls.
Ball described the operational area as containing three sections: Satellite Station Keeping Section, Signals Processing Station and the Signals Analysis Section, from which Australians were barred until 1980. Australians are now officially barred only from the National Cryptographic Room (similarly, Americans are barred from the Australian Cryptographic Room). Each morning the Joint Reconnaissance Schedule Committee meets to determine what the satellites will monitor over the next 24 hours.
LAST week, it was revealed that the Australian research facility Pine Gap might be indirectly responsible for US drone strikes which have killed Pakistani citizens.
How did that happen? And what exactly is Pine Gap? Here’s a quick cheat sheet for those of you who’ve vaguely heard of Pine Gap but never bothered to find out much more.
SHHHH! IT’S A SECRET!
Pine Gap is a secretive facility nearly 20km south-west of Alice Springs which has been there since 1970. Run by both Australia and the United States, its official name is the Joint Defence Facility Pine Gap, even though our government really hates to admit it exists.
As for persuading the government to describe what it’s there for, forget it. We contacted the national office of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) and none of the three lines answered. So we rang two state offices, both of which told us to ring the national lines that weren’t answering.
Pine Gap used in drone strikes
Central Australia’s Pine Gap spy base has played a key role in the United States’ controversial drone strikes involving the ”targeted killing” of al-Qaeda and Taliban chiefs, Fairfax Media can reveal.
Former personnel at the Australian-American base have described the facility’s success in locating and tracking al-Qaeda and Taliban leaders – and other insurgent activity in Afghanistan and Pakistan – as ”outstanding”.
A Fairfax Media investigation has confirmed that a primary function of the top-secret signals intelligence base near Alice Springs is to track the precise ”geolocation” of radio signals, including hand-held radios and mobile phones, in the eastern hemisphere, from the Middle East across Asia to China, North Korea and the Russian far east.
The link with the best references for further study
The best single introduction to the Joint Australia-US Joint Defence Facility at Pine Gap, outside Alice Springs, Northern Territory, remains the Report of the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties, Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia, October 1999 on An Agreement to extend the period of operation of the Joint Defence Facility at Pine Gap, and the testimonies to that committee by Desmond Ball and Paul Dibb. (See bibliography.) On the operational role of Pine Gap in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, see Richard Tanter, Pine Gap and the coalition wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Pine Gap is almost exactly centrally located on a map of Austrailia
If you know of better information about Pine Gap please message me. I am only interested in facts not speculation or conspiracy stuff
Inside Pine Gap••••Book••••
I would very much like to read this book. It is 17.99 at the Apple Store.