Duncan Lewis

Major General
Duncan Lewis

Duncan Lewis in 2001
13th Director-General of Security
Assumed office
15 September 2014
Prime Minister Tony Abbott
Malcolm Turnbull
Preceded by David Irvine
Australian Ambassador to Belgium, Luxembourg, European Union and NATO
In office
18 October 2012  2014
Preceded by Dr Brendan Nelson
Succeeded by Mark Higgie
18th Secretary of the Department of Defence
In office
5 September 2011  18 October 2012
Preceded by Dr Ian Watt
Succeeded by Dennis Richardson
1st National Security Adviser
In office
Preceded by New Creation
Succeeded by Dr Margot McCarthy
Personal details
Born (1953-08-03) 3 August 1953
Profession Military
Military service
Allegiance Australia
Service/branch Australian Army
Years of service 1975–2005
Rank Major General
Commands Special Operations Command (2002–04)
Sector West UNTAET (2000)
Special Air Service Regiment (1990–91)
Battles/wars 1982 Lebanon War
International Force for East Timor
United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor
Awards Officer of the Order of Australia
Distinguished Service Cross
Conspicuous Service Cross

Major General Duncan Edward Lewis AO, DSC, CSC (born 3 August 1953) is the current Director-General of Security of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO). Prior to that appointment, he held the post of Australian Ambassador to the Kingdom of Belgium, the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. He is a retired Australian Army officer, and formerly Special Operations Commander Australia (2002–2004), National Security Adviser, and Secretary of the Department of Defence.

Military career

Duncan Lewis graduated from the Royal Military College, Duntroon in 1975. Following graduation, he was assigned to the Royal Australian Infantry Corps. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of New South Wales and a Graduate Diploma in Defence Studies and Management from Deakin University. He attended the British Army Staff College, Camberley and the US Army War College.[1]

Lewis in 2001.

During his military career, Lewis served three postings with the Special Air Service Regiment, later commanding the Regiment from 1990 to 1991. For this service, Lewis was decorated with the Conspicuous Service Cross (CSC).[2]

From 1994 to 1996, Lewis was Australian Army Attache in Jakarta, and during the INTERFET period he was appointed the Australian Defence Force (ADF) spokesman on East Timor.

Lewis was promoted to brigadier in January 2000 and appointed Commander Sector West UNTAET in East Timor, where he commanded Australian and New Zealand forces. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross (DSC) for his accomplishments with the unit.[3]

Lewis assumed his appointment as Commander Special Forces in January 2001, and was promoted to the rank of major general on 19 December 2002. In the Australia Day Honours of 2005, Lewis was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia.[4]

Post-military career

Subsequent to his retirement from the army in 2005, Lewis joined the Australian Public Service and was appointed to the position of First Assistant Secretary of the National Security Division in the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. In December 2008 he began serving as National Security Adviser to the Rudd Labor Government.[1] On 5 August 2011 it was announced that he would be appointed the Secretary of the Australian Department of Defence, (SECDEF), effective early September.[5] Lewis was the first former military officer to be appointed to this position.[6]

Diplomatic career

On 17 September 2012 it was announced that Lewis had been appointed Australia's ambassador to Belgium, the European Union, Luxembourg and NATO, and would leave the Department of Defence on 10 October.[7] While newspaper reports suggested that Lewis was unhappy with the government's cuts to defence spending,[8] he stated that "notwithstanding media reporting, I have not been forced out of my current position and I am not departing defence for any reason other than to take up this ambassadorial posting at the request of the prime minister".[9]

Director-General of Security

On 15 May 2014, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and Attorney-General George Brandis issued a joint media release announcing that Lewis was to stand down as Ambassador to Belgium, the EU, Luxembourg and NATO, and would be appointed as Director-General of Security (the head of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation, Australia's domestic intelligence agency) following the retirement of David Irvine in September 2014.[10]

Honours and awards

Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) 26 January 2005
Distinguished Service Cross (DSC) 11 June 2001
Conspicuous Service Cross (CSC) 14 June 1993
Australian Active Service Medal
Australian Service Medal
Defence Force Service Medal with 4 Rosette's for 35–39 years of service
Australian Defence Medal
United Nations Medal with UNTSO ribbon For United Nations Truce Supervision Organisation
United Nations Medal with UNTAET ribbon For United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor


  1. 1 2 Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet (2008) Appointment of National Security Adviser. Retrieved 7 January 2009.
  2. It's an Honour – Conspicuous Service Cross, 14 June 1993
  3. It's an Honour – Distinguished Service Cross, 11 June 2001
  4. It's an Honour – Officer of the Order of Australia, 26 January 2005. Citation: For distinguished service and performance of duty as Commander Special Forces and subsequently as the inaugural Special Operations Commander Australia.
  5. Clarissa Thorpe and Penny McLintock (5 August 2011). "PS shake-up as Moran retires". ABC News. Retrieved 7 August 2011.
  6. Ellery, David (6 August 2011). "Watt takes Defence's secrets into the top job". The Canberra Times. Retrieved 7 August 2011.
  7. "Diplomatic Appointment and Appointment of Secretaries of the Department of Defence and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade". Media release. Prime Minister Julia Gillard. Retrieved 17 September 2012.
  8. Cullen, Simon (17 September 2012). "Defence head given ambassador role". ABC News. Retrieved 17 September 2012.
  9. Gartrell, Adam (17 September 2012). "Defence boss denies cuts led him to quit". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 17 September 2012.
  10. Bishop, Julie. "Appointment of new Director-General of Security and nomination of new Australian Ambassador to Belgium, Luxembourg, the European Union and NATO". http://foreignminister.gov.au. Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Retrieved 22 September 2014. External link in |website= (help)
Military offices
New title Special Operations Commander
Succeeded by
Major General Mike Hindmarsh
Government offices
Preceded by
David Irvine
Director-General of Security
Preceded by
Dr Ian Watt
Secretary of the Department of Defence
Succeeded by
Dennis Richardson
New title National Security Adviser
Succeeded by
Dr Margot McCarthy
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Dr Brendan Nelson
Australian Ambassador to Belgium
Succeeded by
Mark Higgie
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