21 July 2013
Pine Gap Helps Drone Strikes

By Staff Writers
The Australian


CENTRAL Australia's Pine Gap spy base has reportedly played a key role in the United States' controversial drone strikes involving the "targeted killing" of al-Qaeda and Taliban chiefs.

Fairfax Media on Saturday reported that former personnel at the Australian-American base had described the facility's success in locating and tracking al-Qaeda and Taliban leaders - and other insurgent activity in Afghanistan and Pakistan - as "outstanding".

Fairfax said it had confirmed a key function of the top-secret signals intelligence base near Alice Springs was to track the precise "geolocation" of radio signals, including hand-held radios and mobile phones, from the Middle East across Asia to China, North Korea and the Russian far east.

It said this information had been used to identify the location of terrorist suspects, information that was then fed into the US drone strike program and other military operations.

One former Pine Gap operator told Fairfax the Taliban still have to use radios and phones to conduct their operations.

"We track them, we combine the signals intelligence with imagery, and once we've passed the geolocation intell[igence] on, our job is done. When drones do their job we don't need to track that target any more."

Australian Defence intelligence sources confirmed to Fairfax that finding targets is critically dependent on intelligence gathered and processed through the Pine Gap facility.

"The US will never fight another war in the eastern hemisphere without the direct involvement of Pine Gap," one official said.

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