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The Area 51 of Australia

Deep in the Australian outback is a joint Australia-U.S. secret desert base where they experiment not with aircraft, but with electronic surveillance:

He remains under a lifetime onus not to reveal classified details of his work, but he can say that he was trained as an analyst of ''ELINT'', or electronic intelligence. ''I was initially trained in the analysis of foreign radar emissions, electronic warfare, weapons testing methodologies for various military systems, and that included surface-to-air and ballistic missiles.'' When asked to describe what Pine Gap does, he points to a statement made by the former prime minister Bob Hawke in Parliament in 1988: ''Pine Gap is a satellite ground station, whose function is to collect intelligence data which supports the national security of both Australia and the US. Intelligence collected at Pine Gap contributes importantly to the verification of arms control and disarmament agreements.''

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As a longtime journalist in Southern Nevada, native Las Vegan Andrew Kiraly has served as a reporter covering topics as diverse as health, sports, politics, the gaming industry and conservation. He joined Desert Companion in 2010, where he has helped steward the magazine to become a vibrant monthly publication that has won numerous honors for its journalism, photography and design, including several Maggie Awards.