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Special Reports

Gregory R. Copley

President, The International Strategic Studies Association (Washington, DC, USA); President, Global Information System, Inc.; Editor-in-Chief, Defense & Foreign Affairs Publications.

Historian, author and strategic analyst Gregory R. Copley, 63, has for almost 40 years worked at the highest levels with various governments around the world to help create a global strategic environment which would reduce conflict and promote economic well-being and international stability.

He is the author of the study, The Art of Victory, which was issued in an advance edition at Strategy2003 conference, and then published by Simon & Schuster in a consumer edition in 2006.

He is the Editor-in-Chief and founder (in 1972) of the Defense & Foreign Affairs group of publications. He is founder (in 1982, with Dr Stefan T. Possony) and President of the International Strategic Studies Association (ISSA), the global non-governmental organization (NGO) for senior professional officials involved worldwide in the formulation of national and international strategic policy. And he was the founder, in 1999, of the Global Information System (GIS), an on-line, encrypted-access core strategic intelligence database and system for use by governments worldwide.

In 2001, Gregory Copley was one of the founding directors of Australia’s new grand strategy research organization, Future Directions International (FDI) (formerly the Centre for International Strategic Analysis: CISA), in Perth, Western Australia. He remained actively involved with FDI until his resignation from its Board and Research Committee in February 2010.

As well, he has been extensively involved as an industrialist in heavy engineering enterprises, ship and yacht design, and airline development.

Mr Copley, who retains his domicile in Australia, is a sixth-generation Western Australian, born on October 28, 1946.

Apart from his open information and other activities, he has, since the early 1970s, been heavily involved in classified strategic analysis and operations for governments worldwide. This has involved the preparation of strategic philosophies for the restoration of elected government in certain countries, including input into the preparation of constitutions and electoral processes. It has, on numerous occasions, involved urgent work of a practical and political nature to halt existing conflicts or to prevent the imminent outbreak of hostilities.

Mr Copley, through Defense & Foreign Affairs, also undertakes special conferences and seminars for very senior political, government and defense personnel, often at cabinet or head-of-service level, on how to cope with current and projected strategic crises. He has personally also acted as an adviser on national planning issues to a number of governments at Head-of-Government or Cabinet level.

He is the author of several thousand articles, open and classified papers, speeches and  numerous books on strategic, defense, aviation, and other subjects, including two books of poetry. Mr Copley’s recent books include the annual 2,100-page Defense & Foreign Affairs Handbook, an encyclopedia with chapters on (in the current edition) 245 countries and territories worldwide. He has authored and edited 15 separate editions of this unique encyclopedia since 1976. The book has gone to senior government officials in more than 170 countries — including some 130 heads-of-state and heads-of-government — each year, and Judge Clark, when he was National Security Advisor to US President Ronald Reagan, said it was:

“indispensable to the running of the National Security Council”.

Gregory Copley wrote the Defense & Foreign Affairs Handbook on Egypt, the first edition of which appeared in 1995. Another book by Copley — Ethiopia Reaches Her Hand Unto God: Imperial Ethiopia’s Unique Symbols and Structures of Power — appeared in 1998, as did a book which he co-wrote and edited, Managing the Era of Great Change. He also co-wrote and edited The Global Strategic Condition, published in 1999, and Conflict or Calm? Views of the Coming Decade, published in 2000.

One of Gregory Copley’s earliest books, Australians in the Air, was published by Rigby in 1973, and is still regarded as the definitive history of Australian aviation. Before that, when he was 18 and 19 years old, he ghosted the first drafts of the autobiography of noted Australian aviation pioneer, Sir Norman Brearley: Australian Aviator. He had also edited and written several editions of the Australian Aviation Yearbook in the 1960s, and founded and edited Aero aviation magazine, which was at that time the largest-selling aviation journal in Australia. He also established and ran, during the 1960s (until 1971), a Sydney-based 24-hour-a-day news-wire service providing worldwide news to Australian, New Zealand, British and other newspapers, radio and television, following an initial career as an award-winning defense and aviation journalist in Western Australia.

A small selection of significant analysis openly published in the Defense & Foreign Affairs publications included:

  • Analysis and supporting intelligence in April 1972 as to how the Sadat Government would expel the Soviets from Egypt (contrary to official Western belief at the time). Proven correct within six months.

  • Analysis in early 1973 as to how the demographic, economic and strategic trends would precipitate the break-up of the USSR by the early 1990s (with Stefan Possony).

  • Reporting, in advance of Western government sources, the penetration of the Peruvian Government of Soviet arms sales, and the Peruvian, Argentinean and Bolivian plans for attacks on the Pinochet Government in Chile (1973-74).

  • Analysis in 1973 on the prospect for a space-based, energy-derived weapons system to be used in an ABM (anti-ballistic missile) mode to suppress a Soviet first strike capability (by Dr Stefan Possony). Information noted by then ex-Governor of California Ronald Reagan who later developed it as the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI).

  • Analysis during the mid-1970s to the effect that the USSR was devoting some 13 to 14 percent of GNP to defense. Official CIA view at the time was around four percent. Subsequent red team/blue team exercises confirmed our analysis.

  • Detailed analysis, supported by original intelligence, in 1974-75 to the effect that radical, revolutionary activity would lead to the destabilization of Iran and the overthrow of the Shah.

  • Detailed projections in the late 1980s as to the “end of the age of ideology” and the withdrawal — in the face of the collapse of ideological communism and the Soviet economy — of the USSR from Eastern Europe, preparatory to the transformation of the Soviet Union. At this stage, no-one else was making such projections.

  • Detailed analysis in early 1990 as to how and why Iraq would attempt to emerge as a major regional “great power” and would be forced to expand its access to the Persian Gulf in an attempt to outmaneuver. Subsequent analysis and reports in June-July 1990 specified and forecast accurately how Iraq would invade Kuwait (when, how and why). No other intelligence service matched the accuracy or timeliness of this prediction which, had it been acted on by the major powers, would have prevented the invasion of Kuwait and the subsequent Gulf War.

  • First major reporting on the Libyan-Iraqi deployments in the Sudan before and during the Gulf War, and their strategic impact on the Red Sea environment.

  • First major reporting in the 1980s and early 1990s on India’s emergence as a new great power.

  • First “clean sheet” analysis during the 1970s and 1980s of Australia’s strategic environment, leading to The Dibb Report, and the subsequent transformation of Australian defense planning base by (then) Minister of Defence Kim Beazley.

  • Significantly different analysis than was popular on the strategic origins and conduct of the conflict(s) in the former Yugoslavia in the 1990s and the emergence of a new anti-Western power bloc centered around the People’s Republic of China (PRC), North Korea (DPRK), Iran, Sudan and other states.

  • Unique analysis during 1996 of the impending energy crisis in Asia, and the PRC’s strategic response to this, coupled with its Islamist insurgency problem.

  • Unique analysis from the early 1990s to current period on radical Islamist (political, as opposed to Islamic/religious) strategic activities including terrorism. And so on: there were many more pioneering works of analysis in the journal, which continues serving the international community.

  • Unique and detailed intelligence and analysis on the change of leadership in Pakistan in 1999, and the subsequent Indo-Pakistani conflict.

  • Early and detailed analysis during the 1990s until 2003 on the potential for energy supplies from West Africa and Libya.

  • First revelations, in 2002, of the illness of Libyan leader Mu’ammar al-Qadhafi, and ongoing revelations in the 1999-2004 timeframe of the Libyan weapons of mass destruction (WMD) programs, and the attempted coup against Qadhafi in December 2002.

  • Detailed intelligence from the early 1990s to 2003 on the North Korean WMD programs (nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles) and their links with Iranian and Iraqi WMD programs. … And so on.

Gregory Copley won the 1990 Award of The Asian Council, of Japan, for his work in strategic policy. He was at that time the only non-Asian to have won this Award. 

He has chaired dozens of conferences and seminars on strategic issues, and spoken at these and many other international conferences on defense and strategic issues around the world. He has lectured extensively on psychological strategy, grand strategy and intelligence matters to a wide range of professional audiences in classified and unclassified sessions in various countries [notably the US, UK, Germany, Singapore, Sweden, Taiwan, South Africa, Egypt, India, Pakistan, Japan, Australia, Nigeria, etc.]. He lectured on several occasions to the US Air Force School of Special Operations, for example. Mr Copley has been invited on several occasions to testify before the US Congress and notably provided key testimony to the US House of Representatives Hearings on Nigeria, relating to that country’s constitutional crisis and human rights, in August 1993. He also authored a study, Nigeria’s New Government, when President Ibrahim Babangida came to office. In 1998, he undertook two major briefings to the US Congress (including one to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee) on changes in Africa. He has also provided testimony to the Australian Parliament.

Gregory Copley became concerned with the decline of shipbuilding in Britain during the 1970s and 1980s, and felt that the decline had, by the 1980s, begun to eat into the core capability of Britain’s maritime capabilities. As a result, he set out, in 1987, to save from closure the Clyde, Scotland, shipbuilding facility, Ailsa Shipbuilders. The Ailsa company, which became the Ailsa-Perth Group, was founded by the Marquess of Ailsa in 1885. The Scottish Ailsa-Perth shipyard was sold in February-March 1996, once it became clear that the company — and the craft of shipbuilding in Britain — was once again secure. In 1994, his Ailsa-Perth Group acquired the former Royal Docks at Chatham, near London, and Ailsa-Perth Marine Ltd. — of which Mr Copley was Chairman — which were actively involved in the repair, refit and construction of ships and large yachts. The Chatham Royal Docks, founded in 1554, was the site of the construction of Viscount Horatio Nelson’s flagship, HMS Victory. Mr Copley sold up his shipbuilding interests in 1997 to focus more completely on his international relations activities.

Before this, however, Mr Copley acquired the then-120-year-old G. L. Watson & Co. Ltd. yacht and ship design bureau in 1994. G. L. Watson & Co. has designed more head-of-state and Royal yachts than any other firm in the world, and has also designed four America’s Cup racing yachts.

Among his Scottish activities, Gregory Copley served for a period, under Sir Ian MacGregor, as Vice-Chairman of Highland Express, the Scottish national airline, at the request of the (then) UK Secretary of State for Defence, George Younger (now Viscount Younger, Chairman of Royal Bank of Scotland).

In September 1997, at the Strategy’97 conference chaired by Copley in Washington DC, former US Secretary of State Alexander M. Haig, Jr., praising Copley as a strategic philosopher and close colleague of Stefan Possony, said that Gregory Copley had 

“... made a significant contribution in helping to bring about an end to the Cold War”.

Earlier, in his book, The Conservative Decade: Emerging Leaders of the 1980s, author James C. Roberts had said of Copley:

“Gregory R. Copley, at age 33, is already the potentate of his own mini-empire of foreign affairs concerns. A native of Australia ... Copley manages a thriving Washington-based enterprise ... He does much of the writing himself, displaying a literate style and an encyclopedic knowledge of international and strategic realities as he threads his way through matters as diverse as the coup in Afghanistan and the RAF’s newest fighter plane. Surveying Copley’s enterprises, it can be said that his activities are as far-flung as those of the US State Department and that his grasp of world realities is vastly superior.”

For his work in the build-up to the 1991 Gulf War, when tensions were quietly running high between the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Great Britain, Saudi Cabinet Minister Bandar Bin Abdallah Bin Abdulrahman Al Saud said in a letter to Copley:

“In a very critical moment, your impressive efforts contributed positively to clear major problems and set the record straight between both countries.”

Lt.-Gen. Aliyu Mohammed, former Chief of Staff the Nigerian Army and now National Security Advisor to President Olusegun Obasanjo, said of Copley and Defense & Foreign Affairs:

Defense & Foreign Affairs publications and conferences have always been unique in their assiduous and impartial attention to African strategic affairs, so often ignored or undervalued in international publications. During my tenure as National Security Advisor to the President of Nigeria and as Chief of Staff, Nigerian Army, Defense & Foreign Affairs pointed out — as no other publication did — the significant and ongoing strength of Nigerian (and African) contributions to World peacekeeping efforts ... It is important that Defense & Foreign Affairs continue to provide its impartial analysis and unique grand strategy perspective for the coming generation of military and political leaders.”

The late US Congressman Sonny Bono, a Member of the House of Representatives National Security Committee and the Subcommittees on Military Procurement & Military Personnel, noted in 1997:

“Both you and Dr Stefan Possony, your co-founder [of Defense & Foreign Affairs] have been no strangers to Capitol Hill, and your writings and occasional testimony have been greatly appreciated.”

Australian Federal Opposition Leader [until the November 2001 elections] and former Minister of Defence Kim Beazley, MP, said, on the 25th anniversary of Defense & Foreign Affairs in 1997:

“... Your publication has been an invaluable source of intelligence. The thoroughness with which you have reported the affairs of states which do not necessarily ring bells in day-to-day media headlines in Europe and US has been a valuable policy tool. ... Keep up your good work over the next 25 years.”

Mr Copley has been the recipient of a number of awards, orders and decorations and holds two honorary military commissions, as a brigadier-general and colonel.


Mr Copley has authored several thousand articles, papers, lectures and reports, mainly on strategic and defense issues, but also on yachting and other marine topics, published over a period of more than 40 years. 

Books include:

Such a Full Sea: Australia’s Options in a Changing Indian Ocean Region, with Andrew Pickford. SidHarta Publishers, Melbourne, Australia, 2009.

Australia’s National Security: Considerations for Planning Defence and Security Capabilities Well Into the 21st Century. 2009.

Defense & Foreign Affairs Handbook on Pakistan, with Purvis Hussain. ISSA, Alexandria, Virginia, December 2008.

Australia 2050: An Examination of Australia’s Condition, Outlook, and Options for the First Half of the 21st Century, with Andrew Pickford. SidHarta Publishers, Melbourne, Australia, 2007.

Defense & Foreign Affairs Handbook on Azerbaijan. Two editions. ISSA, Alexandria, Virginia, 2006, 2007.

The Art of Victory (Simon & Schuster edition), 2006. See www.artofvictory.com.

Australia’s Energy Options, with Andrew Pickford, et al. FDI, Perth, Western Australia, 2005.

The Art of Victory: Fulfilling Mankind's Potential. 2003-04.

The Defense & Foreign Affairs Handbook. 17 editions, 1976-2010 (Ed.).

Ethiopia Reaches Her Hand Unto God: Imperial Ethiopia’s Unique Symbols, Structures and Rôle in the Modern World. 1998.

The Defense & Foreign Affairs Handbook on Egypt. 1995.

The Global Strategic Condition. 1998 (Ed.).

Managing the Era of Great Change. 1997 (Ed.).

The Era of Great Change. 1990 (Ed.).

Strategy’90. 1990 (Ed.)

Strategy’85. 1985 (Ed.).

Nigeria’s New Government. 1985.

Strategy’84. 1984 (Ed.).

Defense’83. 1983 (Ed.).

Lessons of the South Atlantic War. 1982 (Ed.).

Force Modernization. Budget Versus Threat: Building a Defense Capability in the Face of Rising Costs. 1986 (Ed.).

Australians in the Air. 1974.

Australian Aviation Yearbook, various editions in the 1960s. etc.

© 2010 International Strategic Studies Association. ISSA does not warrant or assume any legal liability or responsibility for the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of any information, apparatus, product, or process disclosed.