Senior intelligence official: “We now refer to outer space as a war fighting domain.”
The U.S. Space Force, established in 2019 by President Donald Trump, will become the 18th member of the nation’s intelligence community.
John Ratcliffe, Trump’s director of National Intelligence, said the U.S. Space Force would become the 18th member of the U.S. intelligence community, which is led by Ratcliffe’s office and includes the CIA, FBI, National Security Agency and multiple agencies in the Defense, Treasury, Homeland Security and Energy departments.
Making the Space Force a member of the intelligence community “breaks down barriers to information sharing and ensures that Space Force leadership has access to all the intelligence it needs to be successful,” the office said.
A senior intelligence official told Reuters, “We now refer to outer space as a war fighting domain.”
The move is more than symbolic, as there is increasing concern about threats from space posed by Russia and China.
In June 2018, Defense Intelligence Agency head Gen. Robert Ashley, speaking at the Defense One Tech Summit, said that Russia and China were developing “the ability to interdict satellites both from a ground standpoint and from a space standpoint … The technology is being developed right now. It is coming in the near future.”
A January 2019 Competing in Space Assessment from the Air Force and The National Air and Space Intelligence Center states “A number of foreign countries are believed to be testing on-orbit, space-based anti-satellite technologies and concepts. China and Russia continue to conduct sophisticated on-orbit activities that may advance counter-space capabilities.”
Skip ahead to July 2020 and the dramatic U.S. Space Command announcement that Russia had tested a satellite that could ram other satellites, a direct threat to U.S. satellites including— potentially — those that provide early warning of nuclear missile launches.
“The sophistication and the breadth of capabilities that we are seeing our adversaries develop is dramatic in its increase over the last few years,” the senior defense official said. “The provocative behavior of the Russians and the wholesale development of new capabilities that the Chinese are pursuing are what we have documented in the public record. The ability also to discriminate between all the new commercial capabilities and civilian capabilities that are flooding into space” is also a priority.
The Space Force is the first new organization to join the intelligence community since 2006, when the Drug Enforcement Agency’s Office of National Security Intelligence joined. The addition is likely to be completed before Inauguration Day.
The move also allows the intelligence community to have access to all operational space domain awareness that would help inform its analysis of threats in space.
Ratcliffe, at the National Space Council meeting last month, first signaled his intention to welcome the Space Force into the IC.
A source familiar told Fox News that on the sidelines of that meeting, Ratcliffe spoke with Vice President Mike Pence and stressed that the Trump administration had made space more of a focus than any administration since the 1960s. The source said Ratcliffe urged Pence to help to make the Space Force part of the intelligence community.
The source told Fox News that after that conversation, Pence “hit the accelerator to get this done prior to Inauguration Day.”
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