Duncan Lewis

Major General Duncan Edward Lewis AO, DSC, CSC (born 3 August 1953) is an Australian military officer, diplomat and intelligence chief. From 2014 to 2019, he was the 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.

Duncan Lewis
Duncan Lewis (2).jpg
13th Director-General of Security
In office
15 September 2014 – 15 September 2019
Prime MinisterTony Abbott
Malcolm Turnbull
Scott Morrison
Preceded byDavid Irvine
Succeeded byMike Burgess
Australian Ambassador to Belgium, Luxembourg, European Union and NATO
In office
18 October 2012 – 2014
Preceded byDr Brendan Nelson
Succeeded byMark Higgie
18th Secretary of the Department of Defence
In office
5 September 2011 – 18 October 2012
Preceded byDr Ian Watt
Succeeded byDennis Richardson
1st National Security Adviser
In office
Preceded byNew Creation
Succeeded byDr Margot McCarthy
Personal details
Born (1953-08-03) 3 August 1953 (age 69)
Military service
Branch/serviceAustralian Army
Years of service1975–2005
RankMajor General
CommandsSpecial Operations Command (2002–04)
Sector West UNTAET (2000)
Special Air Service Regiment (1990–91)
Battles/wars1982 Lebanon War
International Force for East Timor
United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor
AwardsOfficer of the Order of Australia
Distinguished Service Cross
Conspicuous Service Cross

Military careerEdit

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.[citation needed]

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 careerEdit

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 careerEdit

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 SecurityEdit

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] In this role he was one of the architects of a new "Push Back" policy to counter Chinese influence in Australia. Lewis retired on 15 September 2019, and was replaced by Mike Burgess, the former director-general of the Australian Signals Directorate.

Honours and awardsEdit

  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 four rosettes for 35–39 years of service
  Australian Defence Medal
  United Nations Medal with UNTSO ribbon For United Nations Truce Supervision Organization
  United Nations Medal with UNTAET ribbon For United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor


  1. ^ a b Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet (2008) Appointment of National Security Adviser Archived 14 May 2009 at the Wayback Machine. 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. Archived from the original on 20 September 2012. 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". foreignminister.gov.au. Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Archived from the original on 17 March 2015. Retrieved 22 September 2014.

External linksEdit

Military offices
New title Special Operations Commander
Succeeded by
Major General Mike Hindmarsh
Government offices
Preceded by Director-General of Security
Succeeded by
Preceded by Secretary of the Department of Defence
Succeeded by
New title National Security Adviser
Succeeded by
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by Australian Ambassador to Belgium
Succeeded by