President Donald Trump has nominated Gen. John Raymond to be the commander of U.S. Space Command. This is not the same as the U.S. Space Force, but would work adjacent with the Space Force if it’s created. Here are more details about Raymond and U.S. Space Command.
1. U.S. Space Command Is Separate from the Space Force & Would Be a Unified Combatant Command
The U.S. Space Command existed from 1985 to 2002, providing joint command and control of the Air Force, Army, and Navy’s space forces. The organization was de-emphasized after 9/11, when funds went to combatting terrorism and homeland defense. At that time, the U.S. Space Command was merged with the U.S. Strategic Command, becoming the Joint Functional Component Command for Space and Global Strike. In 2017 it was reorganized as the Joint Force Space Component Commander.
U.S. Space Command was re-established by President Donald Trump as a unified combatant command for space warfighting, organized under U.S. Strategic Command. You can read the full memo here. A unified combatant command is a command with a continuing mission, composed of two military departments. For example, the U.S. has a U.S. Africa Command, a U.S. Central Command, a U.S. European Command, a U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, a U.S. Northern Command, and a U.S. Southern Commander, along with a U.S. Cyber Command, Special Operations Command, Strategic Command, and Transportation Command. Now we can add U.S. Space Command to that list.
Unlike U.S. Space Command, the proposed Space Force would need an act of Congress for its creation. Space Force would be a sixth branch of the military, under the Department of the Air Force, Defense News noted.
A location for SPACECOM’s headquarters has not yet been determined.
2. Gen. John Raymond Is the Commander of Air Force Space Command
Gen. John Raymond is certainly qualified for the job he’s been nominated for. He’s currently the commander of Air Force Space Command. Defense News noted that if he’s confirmed, he’ll operate in both positions. However, there’s a chance the Air Force Space Command will be dissolved if the Space Force is created and serves the same essential functions.
An article in February in Space News said that Raymond was already essentially the person who ran everything regarding military space.
He’s been in his current position since 2016, following serving as deputy chief of staff for operations at the Pentagon for one year. From January 2014 to August 2015, he was commander of the 14th Air Force and the Joint Functional Component Command for Space.
In 1984, Raymond was commissioned through the Reserve Officer’s Training Corps at Clemson University, Defense News shared. Early on, he was a crew commander for the Minuteman Intercontinental Ballistic Missile and chief of commercial space lift operations at Peterson Air Force Base.
3. Raymond Has Long Supported the Idea of Focusing on U.S. Space Superiority
Raymond has long been a proponent for focusing on space superiority, Defense News reported. In September at an Air Force Association conference, he said: “If deterrence fails, I am convinced … if we are up against a peer or near-peer we are going to have to fight for space superiority. As the National Defense Strategy talks about, that’s going to require capability from multiple domains to come forward.”
Raymond has also been a proponent of creating military alliances in space. Defense News quoted him as saying, “We haven’t needed to have partners in space before. It was a benign domain…. That is not the case today and we are working really hard to develop those partnerships that we enjoy in all other domains than space.”
4. Raymond Wrote an Opinion Column in 2017 Saying the Military Didn’t Need a Space Force
In 2017, Raymond spoke out against Trump’s proposed Space Force in an opinion article published in Defense One. The headline of the article read: “We Need to Focus on Space; We Don’t Need a ‘Space Corps.'” He wrote, in part:
An amendment in the House version of the defense authorization bill calls for a separate Space Corps by 2019. While I applaud the leadership of Congress and the welcomed focus on national security in space, which I view as a national imperative, our approach is to normalize, elevate, and integrate space as a war-fighting domain. It’s an approach that’s already paying dividends.
There is absolutely nothing we (the Air Force and its joint military partners) do as a joint force that isn’t enabled by space. I repeat: nothing. That multi-domain integration is our strength and we must protect it. … U.S.Strategic Command is also realigning the operational command of space to the commander of Air Force Space Command, and elevating that position from a 3-star to a 4-star commander… This new model provides the advanced training necessary to respond to the growing threats we see in space.”
He concluded with a quote from Gen. Douglas MacArthur that read, in part: “Our focus must remain on the task at hand without delay.”
5. He’s Married to Mollie Raymond
John Raymond is married to Mollie Raymond. She has a Twitter page, but she and their children stay mostly out of the spotlight.
She did share a photo of her helping her husband answer calls about Santa at NORAD in December: