Report
Description

The Joint Defence Facility Pine Gap, located just outside the town of Alice Springs in Central Australia and managed by the U.S. National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), is one of the largest U.S. technical intelligence collection facilities in the world.  The corporate presence at Pine Gap has expanded substantially in terms of both the number of companies involved and the total number of civilian contract personnel, and has changed significantly in functional terms, since the 1990s. It includes some of the major US aerospace and defence companies, such as Raytheon, Boeing, Northrop Grumman and General Dynamics, as well as major computer companies, such as IBM and Hewlett-Packard. It also includes an increasing number of ‘pure play’ companies, who focus almost entirely on contracts from the National Reconnaissance Office, Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and National Security Agency (NSA), such as Scitor Corporation, SAIC and Leidos.  In addition to the supply of equipment (such as satellite dishes/radomes and computers) and the provision of specialised technical services (such as satellite control and antenna alignment), these companies are now also engaged in a wide variety of management, operations and maintenance roles. While the base is nominally a ‘joint’ United States-Australian facility, virtually all of the major companies involved are U.S. corporations or their Australian branches – further emphasizing the already heavily asymmetrical character of the ‘jointness’ of Pine Gap. Moreover, corporations are not necessarily the best or most objective interpreters of US-Australian security and intelligence priorities or Australia’s national interests.

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