THE Kapooka Army Recruit Training Centre is set to play a new role in Australia's defence capability by being the site for satellite dishes to support a new military satellite communications system.
The ABC's nightly television current affairs program, 7.30 Report was in Wagga at the weekend to canvass the views of Wagga mayor Rod Kendall, Kapooka neighbours and others about the installation.
The Department of Defence last year called tenders for the construction of a satellite ground station on a "green field" site measuring 200 metres by 100m inside the Kapooka military area.
According to tender documents, construction of the facilities is expected to be undertaken in late 2015 to early 2016.
It is understood the ground station will have satellite dishes up to 12.5m in diameter.
The new system, known as Wideband Global Satellite Communications System, involves Australia funding one of six satellites for a network that will improve communications with Australian defence forces overseas and strengthen military information links with the US and other allies.
Kapooka, about 10km south of Wagga, has been an army base since the 1940s and is known as the home of the soldier because it is where all basic training is conducted.
However, this new and wider operation has raised questions in some quarters about an increased risk of Wagga being a target of terrorism and having a role in controversial drone attacks in the Middle East.
Councillor Kendall said the 7.30pm Report had also raised with him the Department of Defence's lack of consultation with council about the project.
But that did not worry the mayor.
"I respect that Defence will make decisions with limited consultation, because that is the reality of Defence decisions, I think," Cr Kendall told The Daily Advertiser.
"Wagga as a community respects that Defence has to make decisions with limited consultation for the national good."
Bruce Harris, whose rural property borders Kapooka, said he had also spoken with the 7.30pm Report.
He said yesterday he did not feel informed enough to speak about security implications of a satellite ground station at Kapooka, but was happy to say the army had been a great neighbour.
"I have great respect for Kapooka," Mr Harris said.
"We all know how important it is socially and economically to the town."
The executive director of the Australian Defence Association Neil James does not think satellite dishes at Kapooka will increase risk of an attack there.
"I think that is a nonsense argument," Mr James said.
"A terrorist attack is possible against any place in Australia, including an army base, and the presence of a satellite dish will not change it one iota.
"Terrorist attacks are not confined to military bases; the whole country is at war with international terrorism, it's not just our defence facilities."
The Department of Defence was asked to comment, but was not able to respond Monday afternoon.
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