25 September 2023

ASD commissions secret history

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The Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) has commissioned an official history to mark its 75th anniversary in 2022.

Announced by the Director-General of ASD, Mike Burgess, the history will be written to chronicle the ASD’s evolution into a world-leading intelligence and cyber security agency.

The history is to be written by Professor of International Security and Intelligence Studies at the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre at the Australian National University, John Blaxland (pictured).

Mr Burgess said Professor Blaxland was ideally placed to lead the project.

“John has an in-depth, front-line understanding of Australia’s intelligence community, and was one of the lead authors of the three-volume history of the Australian Secret Intelligence Organisation (ASIO),” Mr Burgess said.

Professor Blaxland said the experience in writing from classified sources for an unclassified ASIO publication had helped him prepare for the challenge of writing about ASD.

“This is a remarkably significant but little known or understood national capability,” Professor Blaxland said.

“I look forward to writing about this hi-tech institution in a manner accessible to the non-technical but interested reader.”

Mr Burgess said that while ASD’s motto was ‘Reveal their secrets. Protect our own’, the book would reveal some of the Agency’s secrets to mark its 75th anniversary.

“I want the book to tell the stories of our dedicated, brilliant staff,” Mr Burgess said.

“Our history is their history — stories of ingenuity, success and sacrifice.”

He said the ASD was the oldest Australian intelligence Agency, yet very little was known about it.

“Indeed, until 1977, the Government refused to even confirm it existed,” he said.

Mr Burgess said the history would record ASD’s origins in World War II, when Australian Navy, Army and Air Force personnel were brought together to support the South-West Pacific campaign by intercepting and decoding Japanese radio signals.

It will cover events up until 2001.

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