The U.S. Space Force announced that the service’s new intelligence agency, the National Space Intelligence Center, will see its first day in operation on Friday, according to the center’s deputy director.
The newly-formed Space Delta 18, named in reference to the NSIC’s status as the 18th U.S. intelligence agency, will operate the center at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, according to a statement released Wednesday. Col. Marqus Randall will oversee the NSIC’s mandate to track foreign capabilities and threats in space.
“It has been a long time coming but after two decades of trials and tribulations, June 24th will see the activation of Space Delta 18, the National Space Intelligence Center,” said Deputy Director John Gass in a social media post.
Previously, the Space Force Intelligence Activity served as an interim intelligence unit, drawing staff from the Department of Defense’s National Air and Space Intelligence Center, according to Space News. President Joe Biden requested a Fiscal Year 2022 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that allocated $20 million to establish the NSIC.
The Marine Corps was the most recent of the armed services to establish an intelligence division, the Marine Corps Intelligence Activity, in 1987.
Former President Donald Trump ordered the Department of Defense to set up a Space Force in 2018, which was estimated to cost up to $1.9 billion dollar per year to maintain above startup expenses, according to a 2019 report from the Congressional Budget Office. The Space Force formally came into being under the Air Force in December 2019, according to the Space Force website.
The Space Force requested $24.6 billion in the 2023 NDAA, a 20% increase over 2022 and well above the service’s initial five-year budget, according to Breaking Defense. House Democratic lawmakers expressed concern that the Space Force had unrealistic expectations of its near-term operational capacity.
“The Committee cautions the Space Force against starting more programs than it can afford,” the lawmakers warned in a report released Tuesday.
Analysts also worry about U.S. posture in the space domain relative to global adversaries, particularly China, after an April ban on tests of missiles designed to demolish satellites in space.
“The regimes in both China and Russia will likely pretend to be following America’s lead, wait for the U.S. to disarm, and then strike Americans in space when they least expect it,” Brandon Weichert, the author of Winning Space: How America Remains a Superpower, told The Daily Caller News Foundation.
The Space Force did not immediately respond to TheDCNF’s request for comment.
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