Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe announced that the US Space Force (USSF) is the ninth Department of Defense component to join the US Intelligence Community (IC).
The USSF is a military service tasked with missions and operations in the space domain, the first new one established in the last 70 years, after the establishment of the US Air Force in 1947, and the first new intel element to join the IC since 2006.
“Today, we took action to elevate space intelligence missions, tradecraft, and collaboration to ensure the success of the Space Force, the Intelligence Community, and ultimately our National Security,” Chief of Space Operations Gen. John W. Raymond said.
“This is a significant milestone, a clear statement that America is committed to a secure and accessible space domain.”
“This accession reaffirms our commitment to securing outer space as a safe and free domain for America’s interests,” Ratcliffe added.
The 18th member of the IC
The Space Force will join forces with 17 other IC members to conduct intelligence activities with the end goal of supporting the foreign policy and defending the national security of the United States.
The eight other Department of Defense elements part of the US Intel Community are the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), the National Security Agency (NSA), the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA), the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), and intelligence elements of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force.
Other members of the IC are the FBI, CIA, NSA, and elements of the Department of Energy, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of State, and the Department of the Treasury.
“Through sharing space-related information and intelligence, the IC and DoD increase integration and coordination of our intelligence activities to achieve best effect and value in executing our missions,” Ratcliffe said.
“This move not only underscores the importance of space as a priority intelligence and military operational domain for national security, but ensures interoperability, future capability development and operations, and true global awareness for strategic warning.”
Intelligence efforts across all warfare domains
The addition of the USSF to the IC was hinted at in the Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021 introduced by Rep. Adam Schiff on July 30, 2020.
The bill required the DNI in coordination with the Chief of Space Operations and the Secretary of the Air Force to submit a plan to establish an IC element within the USSF.
A US intelligence official told Reuters that, in 2019, USSF issued “public statements describing Russian activities in space … testing U.S. responses in space and menacing U.S. spacecraft” and the US is also aware of “efforts of the Chinese to build counterspace capabilities.”
“Today’s change aligns our newest service with the other members of the Defense Intelligence Enterprise and will help ensure our efforts are coordinated and synchronized across all domains of warfare,” Ezra Cohen, acting Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence and Security, said.