Shhh ... we’re not really supposed to know about this

IT’S the top secret military facility in Central Australia that plays a key role in US intelligence and military operations around the world.

But rather than protecting us from a potential enemy attack, Pine Gap’s very existence makes us an ideal target.
That’s the view of Richard Tanter, a professor in the School of Political and Social Studies at the University of Melbourne, who told the level of data collected from Pine Gap was beyond staggering.
Prof Tanter has conducted years of research into the facility with ANU colleague and leading authority on Pine Gap, Desmond Ball, and will next week deliver a keynote speech on the potential danger it brings to Australia.
Pine Gap will be just one of several topics discussed at the independent and Peaceful Australia Network (IPAN) national conference in Alice Springs on Saturday week.
Peace activists, academics and antimilitarism groups will all travel to the red centre to mark the 50th Anniversary of Pine Gap, aiming to illustrate the huge role it plays in US military activity.
Prof Tanter, a researcher with the Nautilus Institute for Security and Sustainability, said Pine Gap remains one of the most important intelligence facilities outside of the United States today.

According to Prof Tanter, its importance to the US military is enough to make Australia a target in any major war our American ally is involved in.
He said Pine Gap allows access to satellites that could spy on every continent — except the Americas and Antarctica.

The data collected is used for drone attacks in places where Australia was not even at war, he said.
Pine Gap also plays a vital role in collecting a wide range of signals intelligence as well as providing information on early warning of ballistic missile launches.
Intelligence gathered here could be used to target nuclear weapons and is also used to support US and Japanese missile defence.

“In the centre of Australia we have Uluru and nearby its ‘evil twin’.”

Chinese bomber planes from South China Sea and future missiles could threaten Australia

Chinese bombers will be able to strike Australia from new artificial islands in the South China Sea as part of a major military modernisation that has also prompted calls for Australia to develop a ballistic missile shield.

Chinese H-6K long-range bombers can more easily target bases in the Northern Territory and even installations such as Pine Gap and Harold E. Holt naval communications station outside Exmouth by flying from 3000-metre runways being built in the Spratly Islands, senior analysts warn.

Fears will be heightened further after Chinese air force chief Ma Xiaotian​ announced on Friday China is developing a long-range bomber that will improve its ability to strike far from home.

Former national security adviser Andrew Shearer said China's rapidly improving ballistic missiles bolstered the case for Australia to "get much more serious" about missile defence, including a land-based shield similar to US Patriot missiles or the high-altitude systems being used by Japan and South Korea.


"The strategic purpose of the ADF for the future will be to protect Australia as a base for long-range allied operations," Dr Fruehling said.

Alan Dupont, chief executive of the security consultancy the Cognoscenti Group, said: "We are a redoubt or a sanctuary if you like for the US. China's strategy, I have no doubt, is to prevent any increased use of Australian facilities by the US."

Dr Davis agreed: "China is not going to permit this without responding."

Former Defence official and now head of Strategy International, Ross Babbage, said the US had limited basing options in Asia. "As a consequence, the Chinese know damned well they can target these facilities and do a lot of damage in the early hours of a clash. That could include, and many people think would include, some places in Australia."

Defiant wife of Japanese PM Abe visits US Okinawa base construction protest

Japan’s first lady Akie Abe says she is “ready to face criticism” after attending an anti-government rally, protesting the construction of new helipads at the US-operated military in Okinawa.

“This is my first step to create a world of love and harmony,” Akie Abe wrote in a Facebook status update.

The helipads are being constructed as compensation for a 1996 agreement, in which the US would hand back 4,000 hectares out of the 7,800 that constitute the training area, providing six new landing spots would be built on the remaining land.

Construction began in 2007, yet so far only two have been completed, after an unending series of protests and legal challenges.

Work has recently restarted, but residents of the nearby village of Higashi – who say that the helipads will be too close to residential areas – have blockaded roads, prevented trucks carrying materials from entering the construction site, and staged sit-ins.

Nearly three quarters of US military resources in Japan are located on the small archipelago to the south of most of Japan’s islands, and residents say they have long been inconvenienced by the base, which was constructed following the country’s defeat in World War II.

Helipad project resumes in Okinawa after barrier removed

Anti-U.S. base demonstrators and riot police clashed here on July 22, when authorities started removing a barricade set up to obstruct a project to build helipads for the U.S. military.

The Defense Ministry’s Okinawa Defense Bureau, which oversees the helipad project, said the barricade, consisting mainly of vehicles, had been dismantled and that construction has resumed.

But the scuffles involved showed that the protesters are far from ending their opposition to the project.

About 100 riot police arrived at a path leading to helipad construction sites near the Takae district of Higashi village in the prefecture’s northern region around 5:30 a.m.

About 200 residents, conservationists and activists had already assembled there to keep the barricade intact. Some lied down or sat on the path to block the police.

However, the riot police forcibly removed the demonstrators. Shoving matches ensued and screams of anger were heard when the protesters were carried away from the site.

“Are you going to lend a hand in the destruction of Yanbaru?” one of the protesters shouted, referring to the forest where helipads will be installed.

“We are against the helipad for Osprey,” screamed another, referring to the tilt-rotor aircraft used by the U.S. military.

One woman complained of being ill and requested help from emergency workers.

As of 11 a.m., the vehicle barricade had been removed, but more than 100 cars were still parked on the sides of the road to hinder the project. Supply vehicles still cannot enter the construction sites.

Construction started in 2007, and two helipads were completed by 2014. But work to build the four other helipads was suspended after opponents blockaded the path. On July 11, the day after Upper House election, the defense bureau started preparations to resume the project.

S. Korea premier pelted with eggs, bottles over missile site

Angry residents in a rural South Korean town threw eggs and water bottles at the prime minister and blocked him for more than six hours Friday to protest a plan to deploy an advanced U.S. missile defense system in their neighborhood.

Earlier this week, South Korea announced that the missile system called Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense, or THAAD, will be placed in the southeastern farming town of Seongju by the end of next year to better cope with North Korean threats. Seongju residents launched protests, saying they fear possible health hazards from the missile system.

Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn, accompanied by the defense minister and others, visited Seongju to try to explain the decision to residents but was immediately disrupted by jeers.

Some hurled eggs and water bottles, shouting "We oppose (the THAAD deployment) with our lives," according to TV footage.
A senior police officer was injured on his forehead.

Hwang didn't appear to be directly hit by any objects as security guards and aides used umbrellas and bags to protect him. But his suit jacket was tainted by eggs and he evacuated to a town hall office.

When he and the others came out of the building into a minibus, they were surrounded by hundreds of protesters, some using tractors. Hwang was held in the bus for more than six hours.

South Korean officials have dismissed as groundless a belief that THAAD radar systems emit electromagnetic waves that can cause health problems. Defense officials say the U.S. system is harmless if people stay at least 100 meters (yards) away from it.

The United States has about 28,500 troops in South Korea as deterrence against potential aggression from North Korea.

Seongju residents criticized the government for unilaterally deciding on the deployment without consulting them. About 200 Seongju residents made a protest visit to Seoul's Defense Ministry on Wednesday, and some wrote letters of complaint in blood. A group of 13 local leaders went on a hunger strike.