The following article was published in "The Guardian", newspaper of the
Communist Party of Australia in its issue of Wednesday, September 4th, 2002.
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Australia's role in the threatened war against Iraq

Australia's military role in the war on Iraq will be Lilliputian.
Australia's political and moral support for the US will be significant. 
The role played by the US bases in Australia will be profoundly important.

by Denis Doherty National Co-ordinator Australian Anti-Bases Campaign

In considering the looming US first strike on Iraq, it is useful to
re-examine Australia's role in the war against Iraq in 1991 (the Gulf War).

During the Gulf War, a senior figure in the Hawke Ministry suggested 
that even if Australia sent every aircraft, ship, tank and soldier to 
the Gulf, it would be less of a contribution to the war effort than the 
role of the "joint facilities" in Australia.

The Financial Review (25/1/91) reported that Australia described the 
role of the joint facilities as its major contribution to the war during 
discussions with the other members of the multi-national force in the Gulf.

So why send troops at all?

The Financial Review article explained:

"The reason is simple: because of the intense secrecy surrounding the 
role and function of the facilities Australia was not able to state 
publicly that it would make its major contribution through the facilities."

All this is true today.


Australian Governments both Liberal and Labor have been extremely 
secretive about the US bases here, primarily because they know the bases 
will become a political embarrassment if the Australian people find out 
what they are really doing.

The Howard Liberal Government was, however, unusually frank about the 
bases when Defence Minister Senator Hill made his first visit to Pine 
Gap (near Alice Springs) on August 15 this year.

Pine Gap will be used for war

In an interview with the Centralian Advocate he said, "I can't specify 
the details, but Pine Gap is a major intelligence facility, which would 
be utilised in the event of military action against Iraq."

Apart from The Guardian (August 21, 2002 -- Issue No. 1105) no other 
media printed these remarks and no television footage of Senator Hill's 
August 15 press conference was broadcast.

By hosting the US bases, Australia plays an important role in US war 
plans bases against Iraq and other poor and defenceless nations.

Regardless of what Australian and US Governments may claim, they are
war-fighting bases.

In addition to Pine Gap, the most important, there are over 30 other US
facilities on our territory and they all play a part in US efforts to
suppress any nation which is not, as Clinton said, a "free market economy".

What Pine Gap does

Pine Gap is one of the largest and most important US satellite ground
stations outside mainland USA.

It recently took over the functions of another base, Nurrungar. It now
monitors infrared sensors which pick up the launch of missiles.

At present Pine Gap is being upgraded with an old DSP (Defense Satellite
Program) system being replaced by SBIRS (Satellite Based Infra-Red 
System), which is part of the new US "missile defence" program.

Pine Gap began its life as a signals intelligence (SIGINT) base. Since 
then it has been collecting electronic signals, regardless of how they 
were sent. Right now the Pine Gap SIGINT satellites have their sensors 
turned onto Iraq.

The SIGINT system operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week gathering
communications which are analysed, usually through key words using a 
Echelon computing system. Right now "experts" will be informing the 
Pentagon about the morale of the Iraqi people.

Finding targets

Pine Gap also assists the Pentagon with finding targets. The US is 
seeking both military and civilian targets as it intends to bring Iraq 
to its knees.

Crucial infrastructure such as electricity, water, sewerage, health and
other services were attacked in 1991 and will be targets again if the US
launches an attack on Iraq.

This is a war crime under the Geneva Conventions.

Senator Hill, in a press release on August 15 this year, said that "all
activities at the joint facility are carried out with the full knowledge 
and concurrence of the Government".

If this is so and the US is committing war crimes, will Australia be 
hauled before the International Criminal Court for war crimes too?

The Pine Gap facility monitors the Iraqi military, observing, recording 
and marking them for destruction by US nasties from guided missiles to 
the "Daisy Cutter".

Reconnaissance by Pine Gap of Iraq will note activity centres and built 
up areas. Analysts will be poring over photographs and entering 
co-ordinates into the target logs. Civilian centres will also be 
included to cause the maximum casualties possible.

Missile launches

If there is a US attack, Pine Gap's infrared system will be activated to
detect the launch of missiles.

A missile's plume only lasts a few minutes as it gains velocity and
direction, but in that brief time the satellites can detect what type of
weapon it is and what its likely target is. The launch site can also be
detected and then saturation bombed, regardless of civilians in the area.

Pine Gap is a key unit in a system of electronic 4CI (Command, Control,
Communication, Computer and Intelligence) bases. All is in readiness for 
the US to switch its 4CI bases onto high alert as soon as it is decided 
to launch a "pre-emptive" strike.

The US has practised putting trucks laden with electronic gear in their 
huge Galaxy aircraft and flying them to Alice Springs and other centres 
in Australia to be driven to US bases. This would provide even more 
channels of information for the war effort.

Virtual battlefield

Meanwhile a war-room of immense complexity has been set up in Florida to
give the commander of US forces in Iraq a "virtual battlefield" 
capability. The data necessary to set aggressive actions in motion is 
streaming into this war room at present.

If an attack were launched, the volume of information coming in would
increase enormously and go on increasing as the war was inflicted on the
Iraqi people.

During the war on Afghanistan, Commander in Chief US General Tommy 
Franks did not leave Florida. He had all the necessary information and 
contact with officers on the ground to assess the situation and decide 
on the next move.

Much of this information was made available to the US through their 
bases in Australia, particularly Pine Gap.

It is necessary not to overestimate the power of the US or to 
underestimate the courage and persistence of its opponents.

After the bombing of Serbia, the US was surprised that the Yugoslav army
still had most of its tanks. They later discovered that they had 
expended most of their bombs trashing dummy tanks.


"Pine Gap is an impressive demonstration of our close working 
relationship with the United States," Senator Hill said during his 
August 15 visit.

It is no coincidence that he decided to visit Pine Gap just as the Bush
administration was turning up the heat on Iraq.

And it can hardly be a coincidence that the Air Force 3 (Air Force 1
transports the President) was on the tarmac at Alice Springs at the same
time as Hill's visit.

Were the US Government and military officials at Pine Gap at the same 
time as Senator Hill to make sure that their "buddy" made the 
appropriate sycophantic noises?

The role that Pine Gap plays must be exposed and the base finally closed
down. This campaign is part of the struggle to stop US aggression 
against Iraq.

We appeal to all Australians of goodwill to join us at the gates of Pine 
Gap for a desert peace protest from October 5-7 this year!

For more information, contact AABCC at (02) 9212 0800 or visit our website



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