Paul Symon, AO
Major General (Retd)
Director-General, Australian Secret Intelligence Service
Paul Symon graduated from the Royal Military College Duntroon in 1982. A career in the military, spanning 35 years and culminating in the rank of Major General, followed. From 2011–14, Paul was Director of the Defence Intelligence Organisation and, prior to that, served as the Deputy Chief of the Australian Army from late 2008 until 2011.
Paul has served on operations four times during his military career. His most senior command was as a Brigadier in late 2005 until mid-2006 when he was appointed Australian Commander Middle East. This gave him national command responsibility for all Defence personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan. Prior to that appointment, in 2003, he was selected to be the senior military adviser to Mr Nick Warner the Special Coordinator of the Regional Assistance Mission in the Solomon Islands (RAMSI).
In 1999, Paul was the Australian senior military officer in East Timor during the months preceding the ballot for East Timor’s independence. His team of five officers found themselves negotiating with militia and Falintil leaders, as well as the United Nations (UN) and Indonesian military, to deliver a ballot to the people of East Timor during a period of high tension and duress.
He was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia (AM) for his service in East Timor. Prior to that, in 1997, he served with the United Nations in Southern Lebanon and on the Golan Heights.
Paul is the 1982 recipient of the Sword of Honour and Blamey Award at Duntroon. Academically, he holds two Master’s degrees: from the University of New South Wales and from Deakin University. He is also a recipient of the national award of Officer of the Order of Australia (AO).
In mid-2015, Paul left the military and joined the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. He was subsequently appointed as Director General Australian Secret Intelligence Service from 18th December 2017. Paul is married to Kate and has two adult children.