News | May 7, 2021

Profiling DEFSMAC on National Space Day 2021

In April 1964, with the stroke of his pen, Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara signed a U.S. Department of Defense Directive, and the Defense Special Missile and Astronautics Center was born. 

Known by its acronym “DEFSMAC” (pronounced “def-smack”), the Center provides mission support for the U.S. military’s combatant commands and field-deployed data sensor platforms and stations, along with national agencies and national command authorities. As an all-source focal point for monitoring real-time missile and space operations, DEFSMAC is the intelligence center that performs initial analysis of, and reports on, foreign missile and space events.

DEFSMAC’s operation and resources have evolved dramatically since its work first began 57 years ago. Initially, in the 1960s, monitoring of Soviet Union missile and space events took highest priority for DEFSMAC. In the next decade, as teletype machines were replaced, a focus was made to add more computers and to increase the number of analysts and reporters to run them, in order to meet the dramatically growing number of foreign missile launches.  In the 1980s, DEFSMAC modernized its operations watch area, adding improved computer screen displays and eliminating the last of the teletype machines.

During the 1990s, the Center was completely modernized again in keeping with the evolution of the DEFSMAC mission, which expanded to include support for active military operations. Since 2000, providing time-sensitive support to the intelligence community during world crises is a formal mission responsibility. And in 2002, following instruction from the Department of Defense, DEFSMAC’s name was modified, changing “Astronautics” to “Aerospace,” in order to better reflect the Center’s functions and additional missions.

From the National Security Agency (NSA) Headquarters at Fort George G. Meade, DEFSMAC is staffed around the clock by civilian and military members of the NSA, the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA). For those who keep DEFSMAC up and running 24/7/365, their job is to gather critical information from the right place at the right time, to help the intelligence community look out into the future and defend the Nation in cyberspace.

The DEFSMAC watch floor as it looks today.
The DEFSMAC watch floor as it looks today.
The DEFSMAC watch floor as it looks today.
The DEFSMAC watch floor
The DEFSMAC watch floor as it looks today.
Photo By: NSA
VIRIN: 210507-D-IM742-1235

As the 21st century unfolds, the need to monitor foreign missile and space activities grows daily. The dedicated service members and civilians staffing DEFSMAC remain committed to support U.S. intelligence requirements by following their mission to “Forecast-Alert-Report.”

Click here to learn more about DEFSMAC’s mission.