1992 …2021

Research output per year

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Personal profile

Biography

I am an anthropologist by training. I have held academic positions in Australia and overseas, and have worked in the Australian Public service in various analytic, managerial and policy roles. I joined the Department of Security Studies and Criminology in 2018 as a lecturer in Intelligence Studies and Cyber Security.

Research interests

I approach intelligence as a group effort to make sense of an uncertain reality in a way that can inform possible action.  This may sound like the usual work of applied science. However, what sets intelligence apart is the adversarial context in which it is often embedded, and the immediate timeframe within which it operates. This makes it a fascinating domain to explore the dynamics of learning and understanding as a collective effort.

I am interested in distributed cognition, cognitive ecology, organisational learning and intelligence practices both inside and outside the formal intelligence enterprise. What this means in practice is that I strive to situate intelligence processes within their social and organisational contexts. Through research on deception, self-deception, counter-deception and strategic surprise I seek to better understand what constitutes situational awareness and situational understanding, how these two can be achieved in different conditions of uncertainty, and how they can be manipulated or defended. This would translated into interest in various areas that those in “the business” might call information warfare, decision advantage, intelligence evaluation, intelligence architecture and the like. 

In my research I am particularly concerned with instances of asymmetric conflict where radicals and underdogs leverage superior insight and foresight to outsmart and outmanoeuvre their more powerful adversaries.I currently work on three ongoing projects: One focuses on cyber deception. Another revisits some Middle Eastern case studies to explore deception, self-deception and strategic surprise. The last one draws some general lessons from the Russian interference in the 2016 US election campaign and its aftermath.

My current research builds on my earlier research experience, which includes the investigation of such diverse topics as kinship and family in Australia and the securitisation of Arabic instruction in Israel. The common theme that runs through my work is my general interest in cognition and the way it is embedded in the lived world and how it is distributed across physical and social environments. 

Teaching

I currently teach in the Master of Intelligence Studies and Master of Cyber Security Analysis streams, where my courses have focused on cyber intelligence; intelligence theory and practice; counterintelligence; denial, deception and strategic surprise; The Australian Intelligence community; and OSINT. 

In the earlier years of my academic career I taught courses on diverse themes including culture and cognition; qualitative and quantitative research methods; and anthropology of the Middle East.

Education/Academic qualification

Anthropology, PhD, Australian National University

Anthropology, MA, Australian National University

Education (Secondary), Graduate Diploma, University of Canberra

History of the Middle East in the Modern Period (SM), BA (Magna cum Laude), Tel Aviv University

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Projects

Research Outputs

Denial and deception in the digital age: novel trends in an ancient art

Uhlmann, A. J., McCombie, S. & Watters, P., 2021, (Accepted/In press) Springer, Springer Nature. 200 p.

Research output: Book/ReportBook

Discerning payment patterns in Bitcoin from Ransomware attacks

Turner, A., McCombie, S. & Uhlmann, A. J., 2020, (Accepted/In press) In : Journal of Money Laundering Control.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  • The US 2016 presidential election & Russia's troll farms

    McCombie, S., Uhlmann, A. J. & Morrison, S., 2020, In : Intelligence and National Security. 35, 1, p. 95-114 20 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  • 2 Citations (Scopus)

    A target-centric intelligence approach to WannaCry 2.0

    Turner, A. B., McCombie, S. & Uhlmann, A. J., 7 Oct 2019, In : Journal of Money Laundering Control. 22, 4, p. 646-665 20 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  • Prizes

  • Activities

    • 1 Invited talk

    Panel: The World of Espionage

    Allon Uhlmann (Speaker)
    15 Sep 2018

    Activity: Talk or presentationInvited talk

    Press / Media