Often referred to as “the IC,” America’s Intelligence Community is essential to America’s security at home and abroad. By its nature, the work of the IC is secretive – but that doesn’t mean we know nothing about it.

The U.S. intelligence community is a group of 16 separate U.S. government agencies that work together and independently to support America’s foreign policy and national security.

All are overseen by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence or ODNI. The Director of National Intelligence, a position created in 2014, reports directly to lawmakers and the President of the United States to inform policy and defense operations.

There are standalone national intelligence agencies, agencies that work under the umbrella of the Department of Defense, and agencies that serve within federal departments.

The only wholly independent intelligence agency in the U.S. government is also its most famous: The Central Intelligence Agency. The CIA is responsible primarily for human intelligence collection, or HUMINT, both in the U.S. and abroad. Put plainly, their business is recruiting spies and stealing secrets.

There are also intelligence agencies that support or are a part of the Department of Defense. Each branch of the military has their own intel agency within their service. These agencies gather intelligence in support of military operations for each of their branches.

Some intelligence agencies are not part of just one military branch, but support the DoD as a whole.

Lastly, there are intelligence agencies that inform and operate as part of larger federal agencies and departments. (State Department, Department of Justice, DEA, Department of Energy, Department of Homeland Security, and Department of Treasury logos or names appear)

Together, these sixteen organizations work both together and separately, at home and abroad, to inform policy makers, bolster our military, and protect the nation and its people.

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Caroline D'Agati is an Editor for ClearanceJobs based in Washington, D.C. Her background is in public policy, non-profit fundraising, and - oddly enough - park rangering. Though she once dreamed of serving America secretly in the CIA, she's grateful she's gotten to serve America publicly - both through the National Park Service and right here at ClearanceJobs. If you have tips or are interested in contributing to our site, you can email her at caroline.d'agati@clearancejobs.com