Pine Gap is a US War Base

Pine gap 'joint defence facility'

The so-called “joint defence facility” at Pine Gap, near Alice Springs, is a US war base. It is an essential part of the US global war machine and has played a crucial part in numerous US wars. It is currently playing an important part in Israel’s genocide in Gaza.

The Base

An agreement to establish a US military base at Pine Gap was made in 1966 and operations began in 1970. Headed by a CIA officer, with staff from that agency, the National Security Agency and the National Reconnaissance Office, it has over 800 staff. It controls spy satellites as they pass over one third of the world, including China, Korea, Eastern Russia, and West Asia. Central Australia was chosen because it was too remote for spy ships to intercept its signals from international waters.

Pine Gap has a number of roles. They include monitoring other countries’ nuclear weapons activities, selecting targets for US nuclear weapons, selecting targets for other US weapons wherever they choose to strike, relaying warnings of enemy missiles, geolocating electronic signals from devices like mobile phones and last, but not least, hoovering up vast quantities of phone and Internet data on the off chance it might be useful to Uncle Sam in some way.

Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap

Most of what has been done at Pine Gap is secret and likely won’t be known until the revolution, but some selected highlights have become public. During the Vietnam War, Pine Gap was used for pinpointing targets for the US bombing of Cambodia. When Iraq launched Scud missiles at Israel during the Gulf War in 1991, Pine Gap relayed information to the IDF. It has located targets for the criminal US drone wars in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen & elsewhere. Currently, it is providing communications and electronic intelligence to the IDF for use in Gaza.

While officially Pine Gap is a “joint facility”, it’s really US run from top to bottom and Australian participation is just for show.

This isn’t because Australia is some oppressed country under the heel of the US – like maybe half the world is – but because the Australian ruling class has no problems with the US making all the big calls at Pine Gap. It’s a US-dominated world order, but that suits Australian imperialism just fine. Australia gets its own sphere of interest in the South Pacific and Timor Leste, while the US erects a big “Keep Out” sign to exclude Australia’s rivals.


Australia is assisting Israel’s Gaza genocide as part of its commitment to the US-dominated world order.

By geolocating mobile phone signals, Pine Gap is providing real-time intelligence to the IDF, which is used to assassinate presumed Hamas members, or other targets, when they are at home with their families.

When the media announce the death of a journalist, doctor or alleged Hamas member who died with their family when their home was bombed in the middle of the night, the probability is that Pine Gap played a role in the attack. It should be noted that it’s not uncommon for the ostensible target to have left the building by the time the bombers arrive – but the family members die anyway.

As the MACG has previously argued, the unions in Australia should black ban the export of war materiel, automobiles and oil and petroleum products to Israel. These bans would hit the Israeli war machine hard, especially given the essential role played by Australian companies in manufacturing parts for the F35 fighter-bombers. Just as important though, is stopping the contribution of Pine Gap to the genocide in Gaza. For this, unions would need to black ban the supply of electricity, water and communications services to the base. Depending on the circumstances, deliveries of goods might also need to be banned.

The Political Struggle

When we advocate these measures, the MACG is not assuming that the union officials will take them up enthusiastically. On the contrary, the officials, whose loyalty is in most cases to the ALP rather than to their members, will at best be lukewarm towards action on the job to stop the Israeli war machine. Typically, they will be intensely hostile to black bans.

To act effectively to stop the genocide, workers need to be organised on the job and build a rank-and-file movement to impose their will on the union officials. In the course of this process, the ALP’s stranglehold within our unions will need to be defeated. This will enable Australian assistance to the Israeli war machine to be stopped, but it would also be a major blow to US imperialism worldwide. The defeat of the ALP in the unions would also enable the revival of militant unions to truly fight for the interests of the working class across the board. The rank-and-file movement could fight for wages and conditions, to defend health and safety, to protect the environment and to stop racism, sexism, homophobia and all other forms of oppression. No social problem can be solved without working class action and all social problems can be solved with it.




Cover Photo: Pine Gap, Source: Department of Defence.