Skip to Content

How New Zealand manages its security and intelligence agencies

The Directorate of Defence Intelligence and Security

An overview

New Zealand's three armed services take a joint approach to intelligence requirements.

The collection and analysis of military intelligence is as old as warfare itself. Throughout history, famous leaders, generals and philosophers have emphasised the need for good intelligence to guide military strategy. Accurate and timely intelligence has often meant the difference between a rout and victory. General Norman Schwarzkopf observed that the victory and the minimal losses sustained by the US and Coalition forces in Operation Desert Storm in 1991 could be directly attributed to the excellent intelligence his forces had on the activities of the Iraqi military.

A Directorate of Defence Intelligence was formed in 1967 in recognition of the fact that a joint approach to the intelligence requirements of the three services - army, navy and air force - was the most efficient way to gather, analyse and disseminate military intelligence. The security role was recognised when the directorate was renamed the Directorate of Defence Intelligence and Security (DDIS) in 1998.

DDIS's role is to provide direction and a central focus for the intelligence staff in the armed services. It achieves this by directing or coordinating all Defence intelligence and security issues, activities and procedures from Defence Headquarters in Wellington to the operational units of the New Zealand Defence Force in times of peace, crisis or conflict.

The community approach demands the sharing of a common pool of information available to all. The intelligence process - collection, collation, analysis and distribution - is managed by the DDIS.

The Scope of the DDIS

The DDIS is mainly concerned with foreign developments of Defence interest and the provision of intelligence and security advice to the Chief of Defence Force and the operations staff, the planners at Defence Headquarters, and the policy advisers at the Ministry of Defence. This means the following:

  • DDIS is responsible for personnel security clearances, storage site inspections and overseeing the provision of intelligence and security services, advice and reports to Defence Headquarters, the Ministry of Defence, other government departments and overseas agencies

  • the provision of intelligence support at the strategic level for the planning and execution of Defence Force operations

  • the management of the Defence Industrial Security Programme. DDIS is responsible for personnel clearances, storage sites and overseeing accounting and handling processes for commercial companies that need to hold Defence Force classified material. Currently, 125 New Zealand companies are involved in this programme.

DDIS is part of the Defence Force's Headquarters' Strategic Commitments and Intelligence Branch in Defence House in Stout Street, Wellington. The Director of DDIS is a military officer from one of the three services. The director reports to the Assistant Chief of Operations who, in turn, reports to the Chief of Defence Force.

DDIS has a mixed military and civilian staff of 32 people and an annual budget of $1.8m. The military personnel come from all three services, usually on a three-year posting. The staff is made up of intelligence analysts, managers, technology support staff and administrators.

The DDIS's organisation and structure reflects the Defence Force's operational focus and areas of primary defence interest. These areas are the South Pacific, South East Asia, North and South Asia, and those regions where the Defence Force contributes personnel to United Nations' deployments. In August 2000, there were 767 Defence Force personnel in 13 separate operational deployments around the world.

DDIS is not a foreign intelligence collection agency, but rather it draws upon intelligence from a wide range of sources. It is similar to the EAB in that its activities are not inherently secret, although its reports and assessments are classified. Those reports may be shared with the other New Zealand intelligence agencies and overseas friends, particularly Australia.

DDIS is represented on the National Assessments Committee, the Foreign Intelligence Requirements Committee and watch groups, and provides support to the Chief of Defence Force when he attends meetings of the Officials Committee for Domestic and External Security Coordination.

DDIS contributes to current and national assessments that have Defence Force involvement. An example of this is DDIS's responsibility for producing for the government's consideration military-threat assessments for possible Defence Force deployments. Threat assessments consider all the operational and environmental factors that may pose a threat to Defence Force personnel, from operational dangers to health hazards. Once a deployment takes place, DDIS continues to monitor the security situation on the ground.