(FiveNation.com)- Following concerns that former members of the Australian Defence Force (ADF) may have been contacted to do military-related training in China, Defense Minister Richard Marles has ordered a review of former ADF members.
Marles, also the deputy prime minister, stated on November 9 that a preliminary investigation had produced sufficient evidence to call for a thorough review of current policies and practices.
“It’s no secret that Foreign Intelligence Services target Defense operations, personnel, and assets,” according to Marles.
Australians who work or have worked for the government in any capacity, including our ADF, who obtain the nation’s secrets, are committed to safeguarding those secrets beyond their employment with or connection with the Commonwealth.
Although the ADF already has several procedures in place to safeguard its personnel, data, and assets, Marles noted that the study would search for any flaws in the system.
Following the statement’s release, Marles told a press conference that the government had established a joint Counter Foreign Interference Taskforce, including members of the Australian Security Intelligence Organization and the Australian Federal Police.
Marles said they are currently concentrating on assessing the policies and procedures for the former Defense personnel to ensure they are adequate.
The most recent action follows the arrest in Australia of a former U.S. Marine fighter pilot and flight instructor who had been working in China due to a BBC investigation that claimed Beijing had been recruiting military people for training.
Daniel Edmund Duggan, 54, was detained by Australian Federal Police on October 21 in the outlying Orange, New South Wales.
Duggan is a former major in the U.S. Marine Corps who fought in the Persian Gulf during operations in Kuwait and spent time in the Spanish Navy. His company, Top Gun Australia, lists him as the chief pilot and managing director.
He allegedly piloted various military aircraft, including the AV-8B Harrier “Jump Jet,” T2C Buckeye, A4J “Skyhawk,” Hawks, and Mig29. He is also said to have been a senior tactical instructor with training in weapons and tactics, air combat, and low-altitude flying. He has also allegedly been hired as a military tactical instructor and consultant.
According to the BBC, the UK Ministry of Defence (MOD) issued an intelligence alert after it was suspected that the Chinese government had hired up to 30 former military pilots to instruct PLA soldiers.