On April 27, 1964 the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) Defense Special Missile and Aerospace Center (DEFSMAC) was established.

Soviet SL-4 space launch vehicle

Although little known to the public at large, the DEFSMAC serves in the forefront of U.S. missile and space intelligence. The Center coordinates the collection of intelligence information on foreign missiles and satellites from the ground, from the sea, and from aerospace based upon intelligence requirements.

DEFSMAC is an all-source operations and intelligence center that serves as the focal point for real-time mission operations, as well as analysis and reporting of foreign missile and space events. It provides time-sensitive alerts, initial event assessments, and mission support to national agencies, national command authorities, combat commands, and field-deployed data sensor platforms and stations.

Formation and Organizational Milestones

1958 — NSA Soviet Missile Analysis Center (SMAC) formed in NSA Office of General Studies (GENS).

1963 — DoD (Dr. Fubini, DDR&E) Study Group recommended combining DIA and NSA responsibilities in a joint center to manage all-source collection and perform early reporting of intelligence information.

The 24 hour-a-day Watch Operations Area at NSA in June of 1964

1964 — DoD Directive of 27 April 1964 formed Defense Special Missile and Astronautics Center (Defense/SMAC) to be operated by DIA and NSA and located at NSA.

2002 — DoD Directive updated – Center was renamed Defense Special Missile and Aerospace Center (DEFSMAC). Some additional missions and clarification of functions were added.

2010 — The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) became a full partner with DIA and NSA in the management and operation of DEFSMAC.

DEFSMAC Fifty-Year Historical Perspective

Fifty years of developing and operating DEFSMAC have resulted in continuously improved intelligence information derived from foreign missile and space activities.

1960s – The NSA Soviet Missile Analysis Center (SMAC) was moved to be part of DEFSMAC. To this was added the DIA DoD intelligence reporting responsibilities and selected DIA personnel. Both NSA and DIA managed data collection resources and then provided input to DEFSMAC.

1970s – DEFSMAC operations were fully implemented, still with primary emphasis on Soviet missile and space-earth satellite vehicles (ESVs) and deep-space probes.

1983 Operations Watch Area before the upgrade with single computer-connected terminals and minimum display capability

1980s – First overall modernization of the Center’s Operations area was completed along with a facilities expansion. Partial or full computer automation of many DEFSMAC functions was implemented. Emphasis remained on obtaining information on missile and ESV developments by foreign adversaries.

Operations Watch Area after modernization with improved computer screen displays

1990s – DEFSMAC’s mission was expanded to include providing direct support to active military operations. The challenge was met by substantial computer automation improvements in conjunction with the Center’s expansion and relocation to a new area at NSA, which was custom designed to support the mission.

2000-2010 – DEFSMAC time-sensitive support to the intelligence community during world crises became a formal mission responsibility. The use of geospatial intelligence was expanded and new analytic techniques were developed. NGA became a full partner with DIA and NSA in DEFSMAC.

Two analysts at their workstations in the missile analysis and reporting work area, after the 2005 upgrade to the workspaces

The DEFSMAC primary mission to “Forecast–Alert–Report” foreign missile and space activities related to U.S. intelligence requirements continues to drive the overall operation twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.

Source: NSA.gov