The US Space Force has announced the addition of five new intelligence squadrons to keep up with foreign competitors in space. Officials say these new squadrons will help the US better understand the space domain and the potential threats.
Colonel Brett Swigert, commander of the Space Force’s Space Delta 7, stated that the US military had taken its “eyes off the ball” regarding gathering intelligence about other governments’ space activities. Swigert said that the US had been focused on counterterrorism and the Global War on Terror battle over the last two decades and has missed competitors’ progress in space.
The operations and remit of Delta 7 are not precisely known due to national security concerns. However, budget documents show the group provides intelligence capabilities in support of rapid detection, custody, attribution, characterisation, and response to space events, including handling enemy satellites. If US Space Command decides to shoot down an opposing satellite, Delta 7 will help by doing target development and intelligence work.
Regarding the squadrons, the Space Force has said that three new squadrons are already activated and plans to activate two more this year.
The new squadrons include a “target development” squadron to analyse opposing forces and identify valuable targets and an “exploitation” squadron to process, exploit, and disseminate intelligence information. Delta 7’s locations include Colorado, Ohio, the National Capital Region, the United Kingdom, and South Korea. A decision on where the two new squadrons will be based is “coming soon,” Swigert said.
The Space Force’s evolving role highlights the government’s choice to view space through a national security lens. The group became an official part of the US Intelligence Community of government agencies in 2022. John Plumb, the Pentagon’s first-ever assistant secretary of defence for space policy, declared that now is the time to “normalise” space as a domain for the military to operate in.