November 23, 2016

Two Articles 1. Kuznetsov, 2. Nuclear South Korea, Will be Done

Great footage of Kuznetsov carrier operations.

Submarine Matters aims to do 2 articles once a wide range of regional Trump Won briefings to Government have ended. Submarine Matters articles will include.

1. Implications of Russian Carrier Kuznetsov Airstrikes on Islamists in Syria, and

2. mainly South Korea Developing Nuclear Weapons and Propulsion (Japan?)



November 16, 2016

Japan will need to follow Australia's military example regarding the US

Pyne says Australia not a 'strategic bludger', flags 'immense' opportunities if Trump expands US military
Updated 34 minutes ago
The [Australian] Federal Government says Australia is well positioned to take advantage of a "gigantic" expansion of the United States military flagged by the incoming Trump administration.
[Australian] Defence Industry Minister Christopher Pyne also downplayed the prospect of the US demanding Australia increase its spending as a percentage of GDP.

Key points:

  • Rudy Giuliani flags an aggressive expansion of America's military
  • Government says as a close ally with the US the country is well positioned to benefit from the expansion
  • Christopher Pyne says Australia is "pulling its weight" in both military spending and operations
Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who is reportedly a leading contender to become the next US Secretary of State, flagged an aggressive expansion of American forces.
Mr Pyne said Australia's strong links with the US would benefit defence manufacturing at home.
He told a submarine industry conference in Canberra, based on comments by Donald Trump, a half-a-trillion-dollar expansion of the US military was possible.

"A hundred new planes, 70 new naval vessels, 50 to 60,000 new army, 12 new marine corps, the opportunities for Australia, because of our very close relationship with the United States, are boundless," he said.
"We already have amazing companies like Austal and CEA and others that are part of the US military spend, they could expand."
Mr Pyne said Australia was "pulling its weight" not just in military spending but in terms of military operations with the US.
"President-elect Trump has called countries around the world who are US allies and are not at 2 per cent [of spending] strategic bludgers," Mr Pyne said.
"Fortunately we are not strategic bludgers because we are at 2 per cent of gross domestic product, and given the spend of the Turnbull Government over the next 10 years, I imagine that will be surpassed at some stage in the future."
He said the Government was staying "in close contact" with Mr Trump's transition team.
"We are very much linked into the Trump team," Mr Pyne said.
Mr Giuliani earlier this week said Mr Trump's military strategy was focused around "peace through strength".
"If you face them with a military that is modern, gigantic, overwhelming and unbelievably good at conventional and asymmetrical warfare, they may challenge you, but I doubt it," Mr Giuliani said.
"I am a big advocate of military spending."


November 14, 2016

Connection to all the up-to-date Trump Transition Team details

All the up-to-date Trump Transition Team details are revealed HERE, including:

“Prior to Trump's return to his private residence at Trump Tower around November 10, the United States Secret Service initiated "unbelievable security measures", including:

-  closing East 56th Street to all traffic
-  reinforcing a cordon of sand-laden dump trucks that had been placed around the building the night
   before to defend the site from being rammed with a car bomb, 
-  deploying New York City Police Department tactical teams around the skyscraper, and 
-  the FAA, meanwhile, ordered a flight restriction over midtown Manhattan.”

Security arrangements around Trump's "log cabin" frays New Yorkers. Look Trump owns the street.  He's a Billionaire, its HIS Tower and he's the Next Prez. Respect!

Defense-Navy Related Transition Team Structure and Staff

The Transition Team is divided the work into two areas: "agency action" led by Ron Nicol (a former nuclear submarine officer) and "policy implementation"….The agency side, which oversees appointments, is divided into six arenas. Three relevant to Submarine Matters are:

-  National Security, led by former Rep. Mike Rogers [former Chairman of the Permanent Select

-  Defense, led by Keith Kellogg, the former commanding general of the 82nd Airborne Division, and

-  RobertSmith Walker - former member of Congress from Pennsylvania and chair of the Hydrogen
   and Fuel Cell Technical Advisory Committee of the U.S. Department of Energy, is advising the
   transition on space policy"

Thankyou youtube and wikipedia :)


November 13, 2016

Russian Kilo subs and seabed sensors involved in 2 NATO submarines' detection

This depth-map indicates the choke-points (narrows) where both NATO submarines entered the Mediterranean Sea, ie. the US Virginia class through the Strait of Gibralter (on the map, extreme left) and the Dutch Walrus class (lower, right corner) near Port Said, Egypt.


Various Russian sensors were involved in the recent detection of two NATO submarines. Sensors included:

-  publically admitted, over-water (ASW helicopters) and surface ASW ships (see BACKGROUND)

-  (more secretly) Russian Kilo submarines, near stopped, operating at choke-points. 

-  equally secret were seafloor sensor arrays used: near the Strait of Gibraltar; another north of Port
   Said at the northern opening of the Suez Canal; and yet another outside of Russia's Tartus (Syria)

Russia's Main (Military) Intelligence Directorate (known as GRU) reported that a Dutch Walrus class submarine transiting the Suez Canal emerged into the Mediterranean Sea only to "rendezvous" with, be intercepted by, various ASW sensors.

GRU was already aware that the Dutch sub, after Indian Ocean regional ops, had then transited the  Suez Canal from south to north with a known time of emerging into the Med. This made it quite easy for a Kilo (from the Black Sea fleet) to cue or "rendezvous" with the Dutch sub. This Kilo gained valuable intelligence on characteristics of some upgrade work done on the Dutch sub.

The US Virginia class SSN had earlier been (predictably) tailing the Admiral Kuznetsov carrier group from a range of 70km. As the Virginia class sub transited the Strait of Gibraltar (traveling from west to east into the Med) it was detected by a fixed seabed sensor array (perhaps in cooperation with local assistance). The detection was later confirmed by Russian helicopter dipping sonars (active) and ship bow sonars.

GRU further reported that, by their behaviour, the Walrus and Virginia class subs positively detected the presence of the Kilo subs.


Allen Cone, for UPI reported on 9 November 2016 "Russia: Dutch sub tried to approach, spy on aircraft carrier"

"(MOSCOW, Nov. 9 (UPI)) -- A Dutch submarine attempted to spy on a Russian aircraft carrier after approaching it in the eastern Mediterranean Sea, a Russian Defense Ministry spokesman said Wednesday.

The Northern Fleet's anti-submarine ships forced the sub to leave the area near Russia's Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier, spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said in a statement.

"The clumsy attempts to carry out dangeroumanoeuvres in the direct proximity of the Russian group of warships could have led to grave navigation consequences," he said.

He said two anti-submarine ships, Severomorsk and the Vice-Admiral Kulakov, at 6:50 a.m. spotted a Dutch navy sub, which neared the Northern Fleet's aircraft carrier group for surveillance purposes."

He said the crews "easily identified the submarine that was 20 kilometers [12.5 miles] away using the standard onboard hydroacoustics systems and data obtained from anti-submarine helicopters Ka-27 PL. Despite the submarine's attempts to evade surveillance, a stable hydroacoustic contact was established with it."

Konashenkov said they monitored the submarine for more than an hour and forced it to leave the carrier group.

"It is noteworthy that submarines of such class, having big displacement, are not fit for reconnaissance," the spokesman said.

The ministry official also said the Russian navy's aircraft carrier group regularly spotted NATO's submarines on its way to the Mediterranean.

Earlier this month, he said the USS Virginia was trying to spy on Russian vessels.

Last month, Russia's Northern Fleet's the Kuznetsov aircraft carrier, accompanied by the Pyotr Veliky battle cruiser, the Severomorsk and Kulakov, and support vessel were sent to the Mediterranean to hold drills and strengthen capabilities."

Please connect with Submarine Matters articles:

-  Russia set to unleash carrier aircraft and SLCMs on IS in Syria of  31 October 2016, and 

-  Russian carrier Admiral Kuznetsov may conduct first airstrikes (against IS), October 17, 2016.


November 12, 2016

Japan May Develope Nuclear Weapon Capability: US Alliance Uncertainty

In response to (now President-Elect) Trump's oft repeated questioning of the sanctity of alliances Japan has been quietly hedging, anticipating a gradual withdrawal of US extended nuclear deterrence. 

Japan has definitly developed two of the three essential components of a nuclear weapons capability:

1.  a viable nuclear weapon delivery system (see Japan's dual-use delivery system, the Epsilon rocket.
     below), and
     Plutonium. (also see)

3?  Over the last 65 years such an advanced nuclear energy power as Japan will have at least design

      plans under lock-and-key for the third element, a viable nuclear device. "During the Sato cabinet
      in the 1960's, it is reported that Japan secretly studied the development of nuclear weapons." 

With today's computer modeling Japan would not even need to test a nuclear device. Certainly Japan would have little trouble developing a fission device - given plans for such devices were distributed by the A Q Khan network decades ago.

A Japanese Epsilon rocket, with dual-use potential as a future nuclear armed ICBM, launched from Uchinoura Space Center, southern Japan, September 2013, carrying satellite.


Japan's Epsilon rocket. Specifications for the Epsilon include: Height 24.4m, Diameter 2.5m, Mass 91 tons, 3 or 4 stages. Its shape, with no strap-on boosters, is ideal for silo, rail or truck launch. Reduced to 2 stages it might provide the basis for an SLBM.

These Epsilon specs are very similar to the developed but cancelled US MX  ICBM. MXs specs are Height 22m, Diameter 2.3m, Weight 97 tons, 3 stages, blast yield 3 Mt total (using up to 10 MIRVs).

Modern ballistic missiles generally have solid fuel stages (for quicker preparation and more rugged handling) rather than liquid fuel typically used in civilian rockets. So it is notable that the first, second and third stages of the Epsilon are solid fuel.

A 2019 Epsilon rocket launch, carrying satellite.

The extent to which the US assisted JAXA's Epsilon Project is unclear. Japan Aerospace eXploration Agency (JAXA) is Japan’s NASA equivalent. Space agencies have dual military-civilian use technology and dual-use career personnel. 

November 11, 2016

Report SENT to Donors "Actors & Some Influences on Trump’s Naval Policies"

One of Trump’s first naval-defense policy advisers, the ideologue Senator Sessions, is next to Trump. Sessions, like Trump, is an outsider in terms of Washington Establishment thinking (Photo courtesy Associated Press, 7 November 2016)

Hi Donors

I've just emailed ACTORS AND SOME INFLUENCES ON TRUMP’S NAVAL POLICIES out to you as a WORD attachment. Please check your spam bin if you don't see it in your IN box.

For other readers wishing to receive  ACTORS AND SOME INFLUENCES ON TRUMP’S NAVAL POLICIES please donate A$50. Please use the Donate Button on the righthand Submarine Matters sidebar. Once I have received your Donation I will email this Report to you. Over the next 11 months I will then send you a special DONOR Report on the second Wednesday of each month. 


Peter Coates

Submarine Matters International

November 9, 2016

November Report SENT to Donors on Friday 11 November 2016.

Trump's Election may well usher in a world full of surprises. Here, in a Moscow pub today, an artist painted a decidedly youthful Trump and Putin on the wall, standing boldly together. (Picture courtesy Alexander Zemlianichenko/Associated Press via The NYT).

Dear Donors

Trump is going to make all our lives more exciting. Maybe not better, but more exciting.

Knowing the US Presidential Election result has strongly inflenced this month's Report's title and initial wording. Since Trump's Win I have changed the title to: "Actors and Some Influences on Trump’s Naval Policies".

Trump's excesses and statements have done much damage in the usually subtle and understated Asia-Pacific region. Philippine President Duterte is, of course, the unsubtle, but highly intelligent exception.

I sent the completed Report to Donors as a WORD attachment (the usual manner) on Friday 11 November 2016. 

For other readers wishing to receive "Actors and Some Influences on Trump’s Naval Policies" please donate A$50. Please use the Donate Button on the righthand Submarine Matters sidebar. Once I have received your Donation I will email this Report to you. Over the next 12 months I will then send you one report per week. 




What unpredictable Trump does next worries many. Illustrated by this Lithuanian "hot sweet lovin Putin" mural.

(at Wednesday, 9 November 2016 at 5.05AM GREENWICH TIME (GMT))

If I'm reading right - major betting agency's payout odds have reversed in favour of a prediction of Trump To Win!

- Yesterday   - Trump 4.75 vs Hillary 1.17

- Right Now - Trump 1.04 [indicates expectation of a certain win] vs Hillary 9.50

The Australian Stock Market (ASX) is becoming alarmed at an increasing prospect of a Trump win. "Live: ASX tumbles as Trump eyes White House Hotel"

A President Trump will liven up Submarine Matters in ways unexpected :)


November 8, 2016

Zumwalt unlikely to fire its "golden" LRLAP Rounds - Agent Igor Reports


Above is a 5-inch Extended Range Guided Munition (ERGM) [A]. The ERGM Program was prudently terminated by the US in 2008. But earlier, in 2005, the US imprudently commenced an ERGM replacement program (known as the 6-inch Long Range Land-Attack Projectile (LRLAP). Now (in 2016) the LRLAP may be history.

(VLADIVOSTOCK) This weeks’ Zumwalt-class,  LRLAP naval gun, $800,000 per round fiasco, has triggered vodka soaked rejoicing in Mother Russia. Agent “Igor” [B] confidentially reports Russia has cancelled its own decade long Long Range Land-Attack Projectile (LRLAP)-ski program on the strength of this latest capitalist balls-up. 

Decades after the US:

1.  developed precision guided-missile-destroyers, and 

2.  phased out effective large Iowa-class (16-inch, 406 mm) guns and completed since WWII heavy
     cruisers' 8-inch (203 mm) guns.

The US chose to throw many $Billions at:

3.  precision guided shells, and 

4.  extremely specialised, high risk, new technology, guns and special Zumwalt destroyer electrical
     systems, to fire them. 

Confirming an alternate reality planning approach, the "Advanced" Gun System on the Zumwalt [C] class destroyers is only designed to fire LRLAP shells. The fewer the Zumwalts (declining from 28 planned to 3) the higher the unit cost of the LRLAPs. 

The cost of one LRLAP Round (after all) is influenced by:

1.  huge research costs

2.  high, limited quantity, production costs

3.  high electronics handling and maintenance costs (compared to "dumb" rounds) when in ship's

4.  all inflated by the political package of Zumwalt+gun+LRLAP being "too big to fail".

The Zumwalt, in 2018, is likely to be commissioned with no ammunition for its $Billion dollar guns. 


[A]  Regarding naval shore bombardment ops The ERGM/LRLAP Fraud.

[B]  Igor's secret source details.

[C]  In a rare posthumous move Admiral Elmo Zumwalt has distanced himself from LRLAP lapping.

* This report has been provided to long suffering Program Managers' FYBSEO
   (for your bloodshot eyes only).


November 7, 2016

China sells (really donates) 4 naval vessels to Malaysia

The rise of China in Southeast Asia, at the zero-sum expense of the US, continues. 

On the occasion of the 30 Oct 2016 - 5 Nov 2016 visit of Malaysian Prime Minister "Scorpene" Razak to China, Malaysia has agreed to "buy" four Chinese "Littoral Mission Ships (LMS)".

These are 68 meter patrol vessels being bought for perhaps as low as US$7 million each. At such low prices that it is more like a Chinese military aid/donation.
-   this is Malaysia's first significant defense deal with China.
-   apparently two will be built in China and two built in Malaysia.
-   the LMS can operate a helicopter and mount missiles.
-   uses include coastal security, patrols and surveillance, disaster relief, search and rescue.
-   the LMS will be smaller, less capable and less expensive than the six stealth frigates Malaysia is
    buying from DCNS.
-  at 4 meters longer than the 64 meter Chinese built Durjoy class the LMS's for Malaysia are likely to
   displace about 700 tonnes.

 The four 4 "Littoral Mission Ships" (of 68m) China is selling to Malaysia (at donation price) may look like the Chinese built 64m long Durjoy-class used by the Bangladeshi Navy. Perhaps a helicopter can be squeezed on.

In return for this Chinese naval aid/donation Malaysia has pledged to handle South China Sea disputes bilaterally with China. So it can be concluded Malaysia won't utilise ASEAN, the US or use international legal structures (eg Court at the Hague)) to complain about China's claimed ownership of the South China Sea. 

Najib's visit follows that of Philippines President Duterte to China. The Trumpesquely undiplomatic Duturte used his Chinese holiday to announce the Philippine's "separation" from the US.

As well as the Philippines and Malaysia, China also has increasingly close relations with some other Southeast Asian nations, including:
-  Myanmar
-  Thailand
-  Cambodia
-  Laos, and
-  East Timor.

China has less warm relations with Vietnam, Singapore, Brunei and Indonesia. But the economic benefits China can bring may improve those relationships.


November 6, 2016

2012 Speech by DG Australian Secret Intelligence Service (ASIS)


Submarine Matters has no contact with any Australian government or foreign government entities.

The following July 19, 2012, speech by the then Director-General (DG) of the Australian Secret Intelligence Service (ASIS),  Nick Warner, is the first public speech by a DG ASIS.

The speech used to be on the ASIS Website. But it has been removed from that website.

Luckily Submarine Matters made a copy, which is below. 

Some of the Australian politicians' names, as they appear in the speech text, include:

-  Australian Prime Minister Robert Menzies (1894-1978)
-  Australian Prime Minister Gough Whitlam (1916-2014)
-  Australian Prime Minister "Billy" McMahon (1908-1988)

Introduced by a Lowy Institute compere, in summary: This speech by Director-General of ASIS Nick Warner is the first ever public speech by a DG ASIS. It was made on July 19, 2012 as part of the Australian Lowy Institute’s Distinguished Speakers series.

Speech by a former Director-General of ASIS, Nick Warner.

“ASIS AT 60”
"Conceived in secrecy, the Australian Secret Intelligence Service has, unsurprisingly, spent the past 60 years operating in carefully cultivated shadows.

Over that time no Director-General of ASIS has, until today, made a public address concerning the role or nature of the organisation.

Some of you will know the story of our beginning. On a cold Canberra evening in mid-May 1950, Prime Minister Menzies, having served martinis to a select group of ministers and senior officials, including a colourful former army officer, Alfred Brookes, penned a letter to his British counterpart, Clement Attlee. A framed copy of the letter hangs outside my office door.

Menzies told Atlee that he had

"…decided to establish a Secret Intelligence Service which, when organised in due course, will operate in South East Asia and the Pacific areas adjacent to Australia. Recent developments in Asia and our 'near north' make this both a prudent and an urgent measure".

Concerned that the idea might leak, Menzies told Atlee:

"Knowledge regarding this scheme has been restricted to the fewest possible here, and for added security I have chosen to write in this way".

Atlee provided help with advice and training, and in May 1952 — just over 60 years ago — ASIS was formed. Alfred Brookes was appointed as the first head of the Service.

Menzies desire for secrecy stuck. Stories about ASIS didn't start to appear in the press until 1972, and ASIS's existence wasn't formally acknowledged publicly for another five years.

For the first couple of decades of its existence ASIS, small and Melbourne-based, was actually known to very few in the Canberra bureaucracy. In the 1960s some departments had only one or two officers briefed on the existence of ASIS.

Few people in government knew of ASIS's existence either. In 1960, almost a decade after the organisation's formation, Menzies, backed by his Defence Minister, decided that the then Minister for the Navy — John Gorton — had no need for a formal brief about ASIS, even though the Service was about to occupy a Navy facility.

Gorton eventually got his briefing when he became Prime Minister, but he in turn is said to have refused to allow the opposition leader, Gough Whitlam, to be briefed, as apparently did McMahon when he succeeded Gorton.

There have been a few times over the past 60 years when "knowledge regarding the scheme" — that is, of ASIS and its operations — has received widespread publicity in the Australian media.

And mostly this has been when things have gone wrong for one reason or another, sometimes the fault of ASIS and sometimes not.

In 1972 Prime Minister McMahon somehow found himself referring to ASlS's old codename — M09 — in a TV interview; there was the sacking of one of my predecessors, Bill Robertson, in 1975; and publicity in 1977 about operations in Chile undertaken on behalf of our allies. And some of you may remember the ill-conceived and bungled training exercise at the Sheraton Hotel in 1983.

So why have I decided today, after 60 years, to shed some light on ASlS's functions and contribution to the national interest? What's changed?

The fact is ASIS remains, at its heart, a foreign intelligence collection agency reliant on human sources. Its business always has, and always will, centre on human interaction, regardless of wider geopolitical or strategic influences.

Yet our world has changed utterly since ASIS was set up 60 years ago. Britain's empire has disappeared, the Cold War divide ended more than two decades ago, and a renascent East Asia, led by China, is now the prime engine of a truly global economy encompassing 7 billion people — nearly three times the world population at our inception.

The growth of new threats to Australia's national security in recent years has redefined and broadened the range of intelligence requirements. From a small, essentially regional body vitally focused on the Cold War, ASIS has evolved into a larger, geographically dispersed organisation helping to safeguard and advance our national interest on a broad front.

Over the past decade the changes have been particularly dramatic. The challenges of helping to prevent terrorist attacks, and providing the intelligence edge to Australian soldiers in the field, have impacted greatly on ASIS.

Our work has gained a new urgency and importance.

Undertaking supporting operations that achieve a direct outcome as distinct from our more traditional information gathering operations is now of increasing importance.

ASIS has needed to increase its operational capacity, and to be more innovative, creative and flexible.

We are now more integrated in our approach than ever before, working very closely with organisations like the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO), the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and the Defence Signals Directorate (DSD). Operational and corporate collaboration is close and getting closer.

A consequence of that need for an integrated effort has been enhanced accountability arrangements, which in turn have resulted in a wider public awareness of the nature and scale of intelligence activities.

Still, there's little public awareness of ASlS's contribution to national security in helping to protect and advance Australia’s interests in our neighbourhood, of our support for military operations, and of our efforts in the areas of counter-terrorism and counter-proliferation, to name just a few.

This of course stems from the inevitable paradox inherent in publicising the achievements of an organisation whose activities are, by design, secret.

It's against this background that I think it's time to shed some light on the critical work being done by the men and women of the Australian Secret Intelligence Service, and the unique contribution ASIS makes to our foreign policy and security.

I’ll focus on three key themes.

The changing role of ASIS and the contribution it makes to Australia's national security.
The vital importance of risk management and the positive impact that more robust accountability processes have had on our intelligence effort.
And finally how the changing international order is likely to impact on ASIS and its activities over the next 10 to 15 years.
First, the role of ASIS.

ASIS's founders and first generation leaders, Alfred Brookes, Roblin Hearder and Bill Robertson (who sadly passed away last year) would barely recognise the ASIS of today.

In the mid-1950s ASIS consisted of less than 100 people, it had only a handful of very small stations, and its operational reach was restricted to a few countries in Asia and the Pacific. And ASIS's overwhelming focus during the early Cold War years was contingency planning in the event of another major land conflict in Asia.

But its core mission then, focused on the collection and distribution of foreign intelligence on those who might seek to undermine Australia's national interests, remains essentially the same today notwithstanding our vastly different circumstances.

ASIS is mainly in the business of collecting secret human intelligence or "HUMINT" — that is covert foreign intelligence obtained largely through intelligence officers managing a network of agents working overseas.

Intelligence in our particular realm can be defined as secret information gleaned without the official sanction of the owners of that information.

As far back as 1976 Justice Hope in his review of the intelligence agencies said that amongst the reporting ASIS had issued since its formation there were "diamonds", reporting of "considerable significance to Australia”. Today we are still producing diamonds but in greater quantities.

Of the thousands of secret intelligence reports now distributed by ASIS each year, many are produced by our officers from their contacts with ASIS agents (our sources) abroad. Other reports are obtained through our liaison with foreign intelligence services.

These reports cover everything from political developments, economic growth, defence modernization, and social cohesion in a particular country, to terrorist and insurgent planning and much more.

They form many of the building blocks of intelligence analysis by the Office of National Assessments (ONA) and the Defence Intelligence Organisation (DIO), are a significant input into the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) in the formulation of foreign policy advice to government, and inform ministers of significant developments world-wide.

Good intelligence can assist government in many ways: it can provide early warning of planned terrorist attacks, information on insurgent networks, and more broadly, the intentions of potential foreign adversaries.

Our intelligence reporting can also improve the quality of strategic decision-making, assisting government in the prosecution of Australia's defence, foreign and trade interests, helping to enhance regional stability and avoiding strategic miscalculation. Intelligence can also become an active tool for disrupting the plans of others, including in areas such as cyber security and people smuggling. Intelligence reporting can be invaluable for law enforcement agencies. It can also be vital for Australia's military, helping our special forces and other units achieve tactical success as well as protecting our troops. This kind of intelligence work is now core business for ASIS.

At its heart ASIS has a cadre of highly trained intelligence officers who recruit and run agents.

Our intelligence officers are supported by ASIS Officers, who bring critical skills in operational analysis and reporting, technical capabilities, training and a diverse range of corporate services.

Most observers of the espionage game assume that gains come from putting more people on the front line to recruit sources. As important as that is, the complexities and significant risk of the business demand a substantial amount of support in the engine room, behind the scenes.

As well as collecting foreign intelligence and distributing it to government, ASIS also undertakes counter-intelligence activities to protect Australia's interests and, under ministerial direction, has the ability to conduct a range of sensitive operations abroad in support of our foreign and defence policy objectives. I’ll say a little more about this later on.

The undertakings ASIS makes to its agents and the way we deal with them is of central importance to the Service — they go to our core values of integrity, honesty and trust. ASIS doesn't use violence or blackmail or threats. And under the Intelligence Services Act of 2001, ASIS can use weapons in self defence to protect its officers and agents, but not to collect intelligence.

The way ASIS usually goes about its work necessarily needs to remain secret. So I won’t be talking in detail about the nature of current operations. What I can do though is give you a broad outline of ASIS activities in a range of areas.

Let me start with counter-terrorism.

Over recent years an important element of ASIS's operational effort has been directed at the terrorist threat to Australia.

The tragedy of the 2002 Bali bombings provided a great impetus to ASIS's work, which continues nearly a decade later. This event and 9/11, have seen AS1S intensify its focus on the very real threat posed by organisations like al Qaeda and the affiliates it has inspired — with a web of links between extremists from Australia to Indonesia, to the southern Philippines, to the FATA region in Pakistan, and to al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula in Yemen, and on to Somalia.

We know that the intention to conduct mass casualty attacks against Western countries, including Australia remains very real. We also know that many of these planned attacks are being conceived in places remote from Australia.

As the reach of terrorism has spread, so has ASIS had to expand its collection capability to the Middle East, South Asia and Africa.

We have for many years been involved in counter-terrorism capacity building with a range of intelligence partners to assist them to develop the professional and operations skills needed to tackle the extremist terrorist threat.

This training is important because it underpins the Australian whole-of-government strategy of assisting regional partners to have terrorists arrested and prosecuted in their own jurisdictions for the crimes they have plotted or committed.

Our counter-terrorism work involves not only collecting intelligence on the plans and intentions of terrorists groups but also working actively to disrupt their operations and to facilitate the work of law enforcement agencies.

ASIS, working with other Australian intelligence agencies and with law enforcement and foreign liaison partners, has been closely involved with the arrest and detention of dozens of terrorists in South-East Asia over the past decade — including in recent months.

Another important part of ASIS's efforts is focused on counter-proliferation.

The risk of nuclear proliferation and the spread of weapons of mass destruction remains a key challenge for Australia. ASIS has been tasked to interdict the flow of proliferation-related material and to support UN sanctions.

We work actively against companies overseas who attempt to trade in illicit and embargoed goods. This is a challenging target which requires a concerted effort by like-minded countries.

When countries choose to ignore or contravene UN efforts to control proliferation or to act against the letter and spirit of UN Security Council Resolutions there is a role for secret intelligence to expose these activities and to assist international efforts to disrupt the trade in WMD.

The threat posed by terrorist groups who might seek to acquire WMD is the ultimate nightmare for security planners and, of course, a prime concern for us and all of the Australian intelligence community.

Where terrorism intersects with counter-proliferation there is a clear but very challenging role for ASIS.

Starting with the Iraq war, support for the Australian Defence Force in military combat operations has become an important task for ASIS. We have a major commitment in Afghanistan, and this will remain as long as the ADF is deployed there.

Our work in support of the ADF ranges from force protection reporting at the tactical level through to strategic level reporting on the Taliban leadership.

ASIS reporting has been instrumental in saving the lives of Australian soldiers and civilians (including kidnap victims), and in enabling operations conducted by Australian Special Forces.

The ASIS personnel deployed with the ADF have developed strong bonds, and it’s difficult to see a situation in the future where the ADF would deploy without ASIS alongside.

The field of cyber operations is one of the most rapidly evolving and potentially serious threats to our national security in the coming decade. Government departments and agencies, together with corporate Australia, have been subject to concerted efforts by external actors seeking to infiltrate sensitive computer networks. DSD, ASIO and the Attorney-General's Department have a lead role in helping protect the government and business from such threats — as does ASIS.

Considerable resources are now being invested by the government to counter this threat and harden the defences of departments and agencies.

So far as ASIS is concerned, "HUMINT" has a role in identifying the source of these threats and revealing the underlying intentions of those probing our cyber realm. This will become an increasingly important part of ASIS's work in the years ahead.

ASIS also has a role in efforts to counter the activities of the people smuggling networks attempting to deliver people to Australia.

ASIS has contributed intelligence and expertise leading to many significant, and unheralded, successes in recent years which have disrupted people smuggling syndicates and their operations. ASIS provides unique enabling intelligence for exploitation by the AFP and other law enforcement agencies.

Having spoken about ASIS’s contributions to national security, let me also note that intelligence has its limits.

As the Independent Review of the Intelligence Community noted in its report last year, while Government can reasonably expect some success, balanced against risk and cost, to obtain intelligence that confers strategic and tactical advantage, intelligence is not a panacea for the actions of lone actors, or small groups undertaking acts of terrorism.

Likewise, the Review noted that intelligence can’t always predict major discontinuities and events, especially in closed societies, such as political and social changes occurring at the end of the Cold War, or more recently during the Arab Spring.

And HUMINT, by its nature, is an imperfect art.

Let me now turn to ASIS's foreign liaison relationships.

The Independent Review of the Intelligence Community judged that close relations between the six Australian Intelligence Community agencies and their international partners, especially long-standing allies, had provided "an enormous dividend" and was a "huge multiplier to the capabilities and effectiveness of our intelligence agencies".

Australia's national security now depends on a network of international intelligence partnerships that extends well beyond our traditional allies — the US, Britain, Canada and New Zealand — whose contributions remain of critical importance, particularly that of our major ally the United States. ASIS now liaises with over 170 different foreign intelligence services in almost 70 countries — where many close partnerships and vital links exist with agencies in North and South Asia, ASEAN, Europe and the Middle East.

Let me now go to risk and accountability.

A core part of ASIS business is risk management. Our work is inherently risky because we’re asked to do things that other arms of government cannot do. We have to manage risk across the whole range of our activity, from keeping our own staff and agents safe, to ensuring the integrity of our operational work and the validation of our sources.

A key element of risk management is our ability to remain secret and to operate in secrecy. In this, the protection of our agents is of critical importance. Agents won’t work for the Service unless they trust that we can protect them, and this goes to the methods we use to recruit and contact them.

ASIS understands the requirement for a very strong risk management framework and this is something that is central to the way we work. It draws on lessons learned and is guided by the legal framework under which ASIS operates.

Our approach to managing risk is assisted by strong external oversight mechanisms, including close consultation with government.

The 2001 Intelligence Services Act, for the first time, put ASIS on a statutory footing. The Act laid down the legislative basis for ASIS's work and provided a strong accountability framework to ensure that we operate in a lawful and ethical manner.

Our broad intelligence gathering priorities are set by Cabinet's National Security Committee. Approval for ASIS operations is given by the Foreign Minister under a set of rigorously enforced procedures and guidelines.

There is also scrutiny of our finances and administration by Parliament through the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security.

The Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security provides independent scrutiny of ASIS operations, with the powers of a Royal Commission.

ONA regularly reviews the quality of our product, and the Australian National Audit Office scrutinises the ASIS budget on an annual basis.

Australians expect the actions of their intelligence agencies to be accountable and that ASIS act with propriety and in accordance with Australian law.

I can assure you ASIS is an agency with the highest levels of accountability and external oversight.

A few words now on the challenges ahead.

When Philip Flood produced his landmark review of Australia's intelligence agencies in 2004 he reported that ASIS was "going through perhaps the most substantial transition in its history in line with the changing security environment" as its role expanded and diversified.

That transition from a small agency whose role was focused almost entirely on the collection of secret foreign intelligence, to a fully-fledged intelligence service with wide reach, was completed successfully under my predecessor, David Irvine. Since the Flood review, ASIS has grown in size, capability, skill and in its positive contribution to Australian interests.

From my almost three years in ASIS I can tell you that its officers are highly-skilled, exceptionally professional in their operational tradecraft, and with a deep understanding of the issues they work on.

They are also acutely aware of the priorities of the Government they serve and committed to the kind of intelligence service Australia needs and the Australian people expect.

Sixty years on ASIS has evolved into a far-flung organisation with representation stretching right through our region to Central Asia, South Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Europe and the United States.

While still a relatively small organisation with a budget of around $250 million, ASIS is now a key component of Australia's national security architecture. It makes a significant — I would argue disproportionate — contribution to Australia's security across a diverse spectrum.

Over the next 10 to 15 years, as Australia continues to grow and change, and the threats and challenges facing us evolve, ASIS will need to continue to adapt.

ASIS's operational sphere will become more challenging, volatile and dangerous than at any time since the Service's formation. Australia's strategic geography will dictate a requirement for high-quality, independent intelligence in the face of a much more dynamic international environment.

·   Some of the societies and countries ASIS focuses on will be less stable as a result of demographic trends, pervasive corruption and endemically weak government.        
·   ASIS officers will have to operate in denser, more complex urban environments in both developing and developed societies.        
·   The personal risk to our officers has increased in recent years and will continue to increase.        
·   The separate yet inter-related revolutions underway in information technology, nanotechnology, biometrics and materials technology will also fundamentally alter the environment in which our officers operate.        
·   Developments in cyber are a two-edged sword for an agency like ASIS. They offer new ways of collecting information, but the digital fingerprints and footprints which we all now leave behind complicate the task of operating covertly.        
·   Global competition for resources, not only for countries in North Asia, will become more acute as populations grow. Competitive tensions across regions will generate an increased demand for HUMINT and other intelligence reporting.        
·   Terrorist groups will have increasing opportunities to get their hands on WMD-related material. This will be a major concern for us and our partner agencies, and HUMINT will have a vital role in monitoring and disrupting the efforts of terrorists trying to obtain WMD.
All of this underlines the fact that ASIS is at a pivotal point in its development.

Our history and, in particular, the impressive progress of the past decade provide a strong foundation on which to build. But more needs to be done if ASIS is to deal effectively with the new and significant challenges we will face in the future.

A program of reform, restructure and revitalisation is now underway in ASIS to enhance the skills we will need to operate effectively in a shifting, globally-networked world.

Our biggest asset is our people. We need to focus on building a strong cadre of intelligence officers and ASIS Officers to enhance our operational structure.

About 40 years ago — after I left university and as a long-haired and scruffy youth — I went to an interview at Victoria Barracks in Melbourne, in an effort to join ASIS. It wasn't much of a process and I wasn't much of a candidate. I sat in a small office and chatted for an hour or so with an elderly, bespectacled man. I clearly didn't impress him. I didn't make the grade and then went off on a rather more eclectic career.

Now as Director-General — life can sometimes work in mysterious and satisfying ways — I’ve been gratified to find that ASIS continues to be as hard-headed and clear-sighted in its selection decisions. (I’ve also been gratified to find that our selection processes are now rather more comprehensive and sophisticated.)

Those who join ASIS are amongst the best young men and women Australia produces (women make up 45% of ASIS staff). ASIS offers unique challenges and a rewarding career for those who have a vital interest in Australia's future. Its staff are first class. While in films and books foreign intelligence work carries a reputation for mystique (and perhaps even glamour), the reality is that those who work for ASIS choose to do a complex and difficult job in secrecy, often facing tough environments, and without public recognition.

Sixty years ago Menzies saw the establishment of ASIS as a "prudent and urgent measure" in response to the many changes taking place in Asia and the Pacific. He was right to do so, and subsequent governments over the past six decades have been right to invest further in the development of ASlS's unique capabilities.

The coming decades will be demanding for Australia's intelligence community. However much technology continues to change the basis of intelligence collection there will always be a prime requirement for human intelligence — the kind of intelligence that can really make a difference and the work that is core business for ASIS.

A professional, capable and accountable Secret Intelligence Service is destined to play an even more central role in securing Australia's future in the decades ahead.

Nick Warner
Australian Secret Intelligence Service
19 July 2012”