Intelligence And National Security Architecture Criminology Essay

Published: Last Edited:

This essay has been submitted by a student. This is not an example of the work written by our professional essay writers.

Whilst there is broad support for an NSP across Australian academia and think tanks there are differences of opinion on the shape and content of what an NSP should look like. The need for a coordinated uniformed security policy approach is greater than ever before, and previously divergent parties now agree. Defining the priorities of an NSP for the intelligence agencies in an increasingly complex and globalised world is a difficult and complex task and Australia's security interests have evolved to include a growing list of internal and external risks. The calls for a NSP are not new, in 1997 the Australian Defence Force Journal published an article that called upon the Australian Government to espouse, develop and coordinate a National Security Policy (Ablong, 1997).

What is national security?

There are many aspects to national security, traditionally national security focussed on military threats however defining national security in an interconnected world is becoming increasingly more complicated. National security can be described as the political independence of a state, or broadly the protection of a state's people, values, institution and ideas. Most observers favour the broad definition of security and cite globalisation and transnational crime as a reason to maintain close links of the security of the state, the region and the world. The definition of national security must begin with a clearly defined set of priorities and this is essential if the government is going to make decisions about the long term strategies and allocation of resourcing. A strategy is nothing more than a long term goal. Prior to the events of 9/11 the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade recommended in 2000 that the Australian government develop and maintain a national security policy.

. In order to illuminate the challenges ahead for the Australian Government, this report addresses a number of critical questions in the national security debate and what our intelligence agencies are doing to combat the asymmetric threat that is now being faced.

What is national security?

Defining the asymmetrical threat.

Is the Australian Government doing too much or not enough in the focus on asymmetric threats?

Why do emerging international security issues; such as organised crime, environmental change and pandemic disease pose a national security risk and is there anything that the Australian Government can do to combat these threats?

In answering these questions, this report argues that the Australian Intelligence Community is maintaining current service level agreement of conventional targets however an implementation of a standardised operating environment will see a wider range of coverage and deeper analytical penetration of posed asymmetric threats, the report also recommends that the Australian Intelligence Community be subject to the publication of an annual security risk assessment and further the report also recommends that all intelligence analysts of all government departments undergo cross-sectional awareness training.

Hough in his 2004 book Understanding Global Security states "In international relations the traditional assumption has been that the core value is the preservation of state sovereignty and that this automatically commands pride of place at the top of the domestic and international agendas" (Hough, 2004). However, over the years there is reason to speculate that other values are being prioritised and that the pursuit of state security is being undermined by human security.

If one is to calculate if a government's intelligence agencies are achieving their goal of national security by the simple mathematical equation of; If no terrorist threat is carried out on national soil and no citizen of the government is harmed or killed, then yes the intelligence agencies of the Australian Government are performing their role and meeting the needs of national security.

Figure 1: Core national security priorities

National Policy

National Prosperity

National Security

Homeland Security

Strategic Policy

Transnational Crime


and Security






Social Policy

Economic Policy

Environment / Climate Change

Economic Security

Health Security

Energy Security

Natural Disasters

Emergency Response Management

Border Security


Multilateral Institutions

Development Assistance

National Resilience

Source: ASPI Special Report April 2008 A new agenda for national security

A good strategy will have a clearly defined goal and the way in which it achieves the goal and by the means with which it will be achieved. In Australia the defence white paper is the vehicle that has referred to the policy and the strategy of how Australia sees its place in the world, how it intends to defend its position and the means it will use to ensure this. Michael O'Connor states

Australians generally lack a genuine strategic view of national security, relying instead upon short term responses to events over which they have no control, Thus, most politicians, commentators and even professionals currently discuss national security policy in terms of the response to terrorism. (O'Connor, 2006)

Given the current climate most of the policy documents and departmental reports indicate that the terms 'national security' and 'asymmetric warfare' refers to the sole threat of terrorism. National security and asymmetric warfare is broader than just one example; it also encompasses the economic and resource security, environmental and climate change security and regional capacity and border security. A properly structured NSP would provide guidance on national security issues and the roles and responsibilities of the agencies of the Australian Intelligence Community in a coordinated environment. This level of structure is important in today's world of tribal inter-agency operations. This would ensure that there are fewer gaps and overlaps between departments, and provide leadership on development priorities across departments (Forrest, 2008).

Figure 2: Major attacks linked to transnational extremist-Muslim terrorism since 1992

Source: Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade website -

Defining the asymmetric threat

Transnational and asymmetric threats are not new, what is new is the focus on them as priorities. One of the main challenges we face today is the lack of clarification of terms used, with the diversification of intelligence agencies that Australia possesses we need to all be operating on the same standard operating procedures as one another. Clarifying the terms involved ensures that we have a common frame of reference. This way there will be no confusion as to the requirements or level of commitment needed. The lack of mutual understanding and respect for each other's knowledge is a key factor that has limited the successful interaction between the sectors (Anthony Bergin, 2008).

An asymmetrical threat is the use of techniques by a smaller adversary to engage in combat with a larger foe on an equal footing by the use of any means it determines as necessary. Australian law defines a 'terrorist act' as an act or threat, intended to advance a political, ideological or religious cause by coercing or intimidating an Australian or foreign government or the public, by causing serious harm to people or property, creating a serious risk to the health and safety to the public, or seriously disrupting trade, critical infrastructure or electronic systems. (Criminal Code Act 1995 [Cwlth])

Transnational threats are those threats that involve the illicit trafficking of arms, international organised crime, cyber-crime, drug trafficking and uncontrolled refugee migration. The transnational threat differs slightly in definition to the asymmetrical threat and yet the phrase 'transnational terrorism' has now become common day use. The trouble is that the nature of both transnational threats as well as asymmetric threats requires that they both be treated as national security and law enforcement problems. It is the distortion of the misuse of these words that hinder our current effort to engage effectively with the enemy and lead us to make strategic errors. What is at stake here is not just philological or philosophical exactitude but rather getting the threat right (Blank, 2003).

Is the Australian Government doing too much or not enough in the focus on asymmetric threats?

In the global state of politics the nation state does not concern itself with the issues of life and death simply because it does not coincide with state security. What the citizens of the state and the state itself considers as security are not mutually compatible, what is important is the perception of the government by the people to be doing all it can to protect their interests. The Australian Government employed advertising agents to promote a three phase campaign to bring the awareness of national security to the ordinary layperson and what they can do to help. The first of these campaigns 'Lets look out for Australia' was introduced in 2002 to advise that the world is changing and Australia must also change so $1.4 billion is going to be spent on counter-terrorist measures; however our lifestyle is going to stay the way it has been. The second phase 'Every piece of information helps' was introduced in 2004 and took the campaign to the next level and asked ordinary Australian to be aware of anything unusual or suspicious and to call the national security hotline 24 hours a day. The final phase 'Every detail helps' was introduced in 2007 and was to reinforce the previous phasing advertisement by demystifying how the security hotline works and was advising not to ignore the slightest piece of information and to remind people not to become complacent.

In conjunction with the national security public information campaign the government has also introduced a number of ACTS of Parliament to combat terrorism as well as enhance our border security role providing maritime security, providing defence personnel to overseas deployments, increased the level of customs and immigration surveillance, increased defence numbers, strengthened domestic and international intelligence resources and created specialist police counter-terrorist units.

The agencies face their own set of challenges, however what is common to all is the quality, professionalism and motivation of the people working within each of the organisations to ensure the security of Australia.

Why do emerging international security issues; such as organised crime, environmental change and pandemic disease pose a national security risk and is there anything that the Australian Government can do to combat these threats?

Organised crime is a transnational problem, criminal groups are expanding their activities to reach around the world, they are engaging in cooperative trade deals such as drugs for arms. The established organised crime groups have changed their tactics to face the challenges and adapt to the modern changing world. The 2009 Organised Crime in Australia Report from the Australian Crime Commission (ACC) states that 'In 2008 organised crime is estimated conservatively to have cost Australia at least $10 billion' (Organised Crime in Australia, 2009). The Australian Government continues to face many challenges as organised criminal groups expand their activities and it is been proven that criminal organisations usually adapt quickly to using new technology to further their own means. The problems that face the Australian Government are in how to deal with high threat crime groups that have transnational connections operating in several jurisdictions that are fluid and operate in multiple crime markets.

The cost to the Australian economy is sufficiently large enough to warrant the cooperation between the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and state based law enforcement agencies sharing intelligence to achieve the end result. If the organised criminal groups remain unchecked then the probable possibilities for further influx of weapons, drugs, human slavery, illegal money laundering and other criminal activities will rise.

Figure 3: Organised criminal involvement in criminal activities in Australia

Source: ACC Organised Crime in Australia 2009

Environmental or climate security and the threat of pandemic disease are two other forms of security that the Australian Government needs to be monitoring carefully as there can be following military effects. Jessica Matthews, a former member of the US Government's National Security Council, argued that environmental problems with global ramifications, such as ozone depletion, climate change and deforestation, should become issues of state security concern (Matthews, 1989). Environmental problems have the capacity to cause conflict within Australia's regional sphere of influence; this is a cause of concern that requires a government policy change approach and involves the Australian Defence Force in adapting itself to the role.

The connection between environment and national security fall into two approaches on non-traditional security. The first of these is confined to non-traditional threats to traditional 'referent objects' (that is, states). The second broadens the 'referent' of security to include non-traditional threats to individuals, communities, societies and economies (Elliott, 2007). Major epidemics and pandemics of diseases represent only dramatic periodic escalations of underlying and persistent threat (Hough, 2004). Disease is the biggest threat of all to mankind and the threat of diseases and pandemics represent a transnational security challenge that is not easily countered by governments or intelligence agencies but must be considered in contingency plans. In the recent years there has been Avian Influenza, SARS and Swine Flu, all of which have had an impact upon the citizens of Australia. Health infrastructure are targets of interest to terrorist attack as without a functioning hospital then the risk for casualty increases and lowers moral or without a laboratory to develop vaccinations then the state is threatened by biological attacks.


The Australian Government maintains several intelligence gathering agencies, ASIO, ASIS, DIO, DSA, DSD, DIGO, and AFP (to a limited sense). While each of the agencies has had a budget increase and this has ensured a firm foundation for the agencies to continue to deliver high quality intelligence this report recommends that the purchase of specific standardised analytical software will ensure a common platform that will easily allow agencies to exchange information. The cost of such software and training is to be determined by a feasibility board taking into consideration the end users needs and determining if it is practical.

Further, an annual security risk report is to be delivered to the Commonwealth Parliament for review on performance. As can be seen national security can cover a broad number of areas and there is currently policy that both directly and indirectly affects national security and the means by which we as a government combat asymmetric threats. Though a detailed method of means is beyond the scope of this report a review of the current Defence White Paper is imperative; though some sections of the paper are self evident there are other sections such as the role on health cannot be underestimated. This security risk report needs to be living document that is constantly reviewed and tried and updated.

Finally, a culture of "bunker-blinkers" exists, that is people in the organisations whilst efficient and aware of their counterparts in the other agencies do not interact. Cross cultural training and development awareness combined with a SOE as outlined in recommendation one enhances Australia's capability to provide national security for all citizens. While this report recognises that the very nature of intelligence is secret further education in this field of endeavour should enhance our potential.


A national security policy must be tied to the security and economic prosperity of the Australian people. Transnational threats and terrorism has transformed Australia's perception of security. Australian security interests are closely tied with regional and global developments. Anything that limits our policy choices is a potential threat to national security. The Flood Inquiry found that Australian intelligence agencies are performing well overall, and represent a potent capability for government. However they can perform better, closer ties with regional partners can be fostered, cross cultural awareness training and the implementation of standardised operating equipment can assist in streamlining our services, otherwise it has the potential to develop into an unmanageable beast burdened by bureaucracy.