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Gen Raymond reflects on highlights of Space Force’s achievements and predicts ‘great history ahead’

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. (AFNS) — In a speech that was as much an unofficial farewell as a proud update of the U.S. Space Force’s youthful evolution, Chief of Space Operations, Gen. John “Jay” Raymond told an influential audience Sept. 20 that the service is on a strong footing and that it has deftly avoided two major traps.

The first, Raymond told Guardians and Airmen during his keynote address at the Air Force Association’s Air, Space & Cyber Conference is “that we wouldn’t think bold enough. The second challenge was that when we did think bold the bureaucracy might stifle our bold thinking. 

“We were dead set against either one of these happening. And if we did this right we wanted all of the other services looking over our shoulder jealous about what we built because we had an opportunity to start with a clean sheet of paper.”

Raymond’s conclusion is that those pitfalls were avoided and while much more work is ahead, the achievements and advances since the Space Force was born on Dec. 20, 2019 are impressive.

“The United States Space Force has just begun, and it has a great history ahead. I couldn’t be more excited for the future of the Space Force,” Raymond said.

And in a powerful nod to the Space Force’s arrival – and permanence – Raymond closed his 40-minute address by unveiling the official Space Force anthem, “Sempra Supra.” At the same time, Raymond will soon close out a 38-year career split across the Air Force and, in the last nearly three years, as the Space Force’s highest-ranking officer.

Lt. Gen. B. Chance Saltzman has been nominated to replace Raymond.

With that context and what Raymond called his “terminal count or, in Air Force terms,  the ‘short final’ of my career,” he studded his speech with thank you’s, calling out by name Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall, Chief of Staff, Gen. CQ Brown, as well as former Chief of Staff, retired Gen. David Goldfein. He referenced his stint in ROTC at Clemson University, Space Force Vice CSO Gen. DT Thompson and his wife Mary and, most of all, Raymond’s wife Molly, whom he called “my wingman. Not only is she my wingman, she’s our family’s wingman.”

All of them, he suggested, had a hand in bringing the Space Force from a “nearly clean sheet of paper” to where it is today.

While difficult, focusing on space is also critically important, he said.

“On 20 December 2019 the United States took an opportunity to elevate space to a level commensurate with its importance for our nation; an opportunity to enhance global security by amplifying deterrence, increasing the lethality of our joint and coalition forces that are critical to integrated deterrence,” Raymond said.

“It was an opportunity to firmly establish the United States’ leadership in space and to shape the norms of behavior in the space domain.”

In three years, the Space Force has grown to 16,000 personnel and demand for spots among the highly specialized force is strong, Raymond said.

A large reason, he said, is that the Space Force developed six core focus areas and has worked tirelessly to build the nation’s first new military service since 1947 around each one. They are:

  • Recruit, Assess, Develop, Care for and Retain its People;
  • Write its own Doctrine…like what the Air Force did leading up to its independence;
  • Build its own budget;
  • Design its Force, both from an organizational and force structure point of view
  • Ready the Force;
  • Present the Force to Combatant Commands.

As he has frequently in the past, Raymond highlighted the Space Force’s novel approach to recruiting and training and finding the highly specialized personnel the service needs to accomplish its missions.


“Because of our small size and because we were starting from scratch, we wanted to fundamentally change our ability to develop our most important resource, our people,” he said, noting that the approach required “applying a little more art than science.”


That same philosophy applies to operational aspects of the service. It also applies to how the service modernizes, determines the “space architecture” it needs and how it breaks from military norms and institutes a more nimble, flattened organizational structure.


On all of it, Raymond suggested that the Space Force is moving in the right direction.


“As the missile threat continues to evolve, and as threats to our space assets continue to emerge, we must transform our space architectures to be more capable and resilient,” he said.

“Organizationally, we flattened our structure to eliminate two layers of command and establish mission-focused Deltas. “

Space Force formed the Space Warfighting Analysis Center (SWAC) “comprised of our smartest PhDs and our best and brightest operators” that became the operational heartbeat of the service, Raymond said.

“They first tackled the (missile warning and missile tracking) force design to deliver more effective capabilities in response to the changing missile threat and to diversify the architecture in face of a growing threat to our space capabilities,” he said. “This is the most consequential work the Space Force has delivered and I am extremely proud of the SWAC team.”

It was rooted in an acquisition strategy that also veers from the norm. Raymond summarized it as, “exploit what we have, buy what we can, build what we must.”

Raymond noted that even traditional questions such as “readiness” required a different way of thinking for the Space Force.

“We are leading a fundamental re-think of what readiness means to a force that is primarily employed in place, rather than waiting to deploy overseas,” he said. “We are addressing each aspect of readiness – Do we have the right quantity and mix of people? Do we have the right systems, including ground and space, hardware and software? And have we met the right basic, advanced, and continuous training requirements?

“This means a different way of approaching training and sustainment, as well as new ways of reporting this data up to higher headquarters and to the Pentagon,” he said.


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