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Space Delta 18, a moniker given to the unit in honor of the military branch officially becoming the 18th member of the U.S. Intelligence Community last year, launched during a ceremony last week at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio.
Guardians within the unit have taken on the responsibility of delivering critical intelligence on threat systems, foreign intentions, and activities in the space domain.
“Make no mistake,” United States Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines said at the Delta 18 ceremony. “Space is a warfighting domain today, and an ever-increasingly contested one at that.” She added that she cannot stress enough the importance of Space Force intelligence for America’s national security.
Haines said the Intelligence Center would position itself to support the U.S. and its allies in space at “an absolutely critical moment in the history of space development.”
“In the years ahead, the environment will only become more contested,” she said. “And as we move forward, [the center] will be relied upon to produce and analyze scientific and technical intelligence related to space for the entire nation.”
Haines recognized the possible threats to the space domain, including those posed by China and Russia as they develop, test, and field counterspace weapons, an official statement reads.
Recent reports show both China and Russia have used anti-satellite capabilities. Earlier this year, a telescope observed a defunct Chinese navigation satellite get pulled out of its normal orbit into a “super-graveyard drift orbit,” which raised questions about how the Chinese maneuver the satellites closer to others. Meanwhile, Russia has jammed GPS signals throughout its conflict with Ukraine, targeting the United State’s Navstar system of satellites.
President Trump took the nation by surprise when he announced the creation of the Space Force in 2018. While many were confused by its purpose, it would serve as he intended — to preserve and protect America’s satellites and vehicles in space for international communication and observation.
“It is not merely enough that we have American presence in space,” Trump said. “We must have American dominance in space.”
Haines named Col. Marqus D. Randall the new commander of Space Delta 18, and said his “gifted leadership” would help the nation and its allies make better decisions about space.
Military officials said 345 civilian and military personnel would eventually staff the new command unit.