Ratcliffe: Space Force to become 18th member of the U.S. intelligence community

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“We see this as a critical next step in establishing the nation’s newest service,” said Maj. Gen. Leah Lauderback, Space Force director of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Space Force soon will become the 18th member of the U.S. intelligence community, Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe said Dec. 9.

Intelligence elements of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force are part of the U.S. intelligence community. The Space Force will be added next, Ratcliffe said during the eighth meeting of the National Space Council at the Kennedy Space Center, Florida.

A spokeswoman for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence told SpaceNews that Ratcliffe is “working with Space Force leadership to evaluate the potential for the Space Force to become the 18th member of the U.S. intelligence community. We anticipate a decision on this history-making opportunity in the next few months, which would profoundly strengthen the partnership between the Department of Defense and the intelligence community.”

The intelligence community has two independent agencies—the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Central Intelligence Agency. There are eight Department of Defense elements — the Defense Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency, the National Geospatial- Intelligence Agency, the National Reconnaissance Office and intelligence elements of the four armed services.

The other seven are elements of the Department of Energy, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Justice,  the Department of State and the Department of the Treasury.

Maj. Gen. Leah Lauderback, Space Force director of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, said in a statement to SpaceNews that the service welcomes the opportunity to be part of the U.S. intelligence community. “We see this as a critical next step in establishing the nation’s newest service,” she said. 

“As members of the intelligence community we will be able to better advocate for intelligence funding to support space as a growing mission area,” Lauderback said. “We look forward to further integrating into the intelligence community and partnering with existing members to strengthen the community.”

Ratcliffe said his office also is working with the Space Force on plans to create a new national space intelligence center that will focus on technical intelligence needed to defend space systems from anti-satellite weapons being developed by China and Russia.

Separately, lawmakers have proposed legislation to bring an element of the intelligence community into the Space Force. Language adopted by the Senate in the Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021 requires the direction of national intelligence, DoD, Air Force and Space Force leaders to “submit a plan for establishing an element of the intelligence community within the United States Space Force.” The final bill has not yet been passed by Congress.