U.S. Space Force launches into year two; focuses on integration, partnerships

  • Published
  • By Jennifer Green-Lanchoney
  • 86th Airlift Wing/Public Affairs
U.S. Space Force Gen. John W. “Jay” Raymond, Chief of Space Operations, met with Guardians and NATO members during a visit to Europe this week and emphasized the central role the nation’s newest service plays in global operations.

The visit underlines Raymond’s commitment to establishing deep, enduring relationships with international partners and allies.

“I am proud of how much we have elevated the partnerships in our first year as an independent service,” said Raymond. “These partnerships help us deter conflict and develop capabilities that are interoperable.”

In late 2019, U.S. Space Force was born and NATO declared space an operational domain. This renewed focus on space complements the already robust set of alliances and partnerships the United States shares with nations around the world.

“In my last visit to Europe I briefed the NATO military committee about space,” said Raymond. “Since then, they’ve named space an operational domain and created the NATO Space Centre, which I am excited to visit today.”

The Space Centre at NATO’s Allied Air Command headquarters, located at Ramstein, will support NATO operations, missions and activities in order to increase NATO Space Domain Awareness through the coordination of data, products and services with allies.

“The focus of my visit to the centre is to ensure that we’ve got the right connections so we can share data back and forth and integrate our operations more seamlessly,” said Raymond. “It is a critical part of this integration theme to make sure we are integrated with our NATO partners.”

The evolution of operating in the space domain with allied and partner nations includes operating, training, exercising, wargaming, and developing capabilities together. Integration is also increasingly important to maintain the high-ground in space.

"Our focus for year two is all about integrating the force,” said Raymond. “Integrating across the department, with our joint warfighters, and with the intelligence community, our allies and commercial industry.”

With that in mind, Raymond visited the Distributed Common Ground System at Ramstein, which highlighted Guardians working alongside their U.S. Air Force and allied partner counterparts to expand operational capabilities.

“I am very impressed with how Guardians are integrated into the organization, synchronizing the space domain from an intelligence perspective,” said Raymond. “This visit has been so valuable to see how we can fully integrate into theatre operations around the world and how we are building on those partnerships.”

Raymond is also focusing the service’s efforts to improve command and control infrastructure and how the service integrates across multiple domains.

“The key to our success moving forward is the ability to integrate and link sensors and shooters across multiple domains,” said Raymond. “Our big piece of Joint All-Domain Command and Control is that we provided the data infrastructure underpinning the Advanced Battle Management System, which is so important to our ability to compete, deter and win going forward in the future.”

To elevate space to a level equal to its importance to our national security, the United States formed U.S. Space Command, a combatant command, and U.S. Space Force, a service, within months of each other in 2019. This move has created great strides in the space domain, and both provide different functions for the Department of Defense.

“Like all services, the U.S. Space Force’s function is to organize, train and equip,” said Raymond. “As a combatant command, U.S. Space Command’s function is to conduct operations with those forces in the space domain.”

During his visit to Europe, Raymond also met with Gen. Tod D. Wolters, U.S. European Command and NATO's Supreme Allied Command Europe commander, and Gen. Jeffrey L. Harrigian, U.S. Air Forces in Europe-Air Forces Africa commander, to discuss how space can be globally integrated.

According to Raymond, these capabilities and partnerships are important because space today is no longer a peaceful domain.

He said the threat in space began in 2007 when China shot down one of their own satellites creating more than 3,000 pieces of debris endangering global satellite capability.

“There’s a full spectrum of threats that we are concerned about, and it is clear that space has become a warfighting domain,” said Raymond. “Everything from reversible jamming of satellites to directed energy threats – lasers if you will – that can blind or damage satellites.”

There are satellites on orbit that are very concerning, said Raymond.

“For example, we know that Russia launched a satellite and put it in very close proximity to one of our satellites,” said Raymond. “That satellite that they launched – I describe it as a Russian nesting doll – it opens up and sends out another satellite that has the capability to send out a projectile. We know that it is a weapons system designed to kinetically kill U.S. satellites in low-earth orbit.

“China has a satellite on orbit today that has a robotic arm, and that capability could be used in the future to grapple a satellite, so we are concerned about that,” said Raymond. “That’s why the establishment of the U.S. Space Force is so important, so that we can stay ahead of that threat, and that is exactly what we are doing.”

Threats in space impact more than the military; they can impact the entire world through disruption of GPS satellites, which would impact goods and services that rely on GPS capabilities such as banking, ATMs and cell phones.

“Space fuels our American way of life,” Raymond said. “There is nothing we do that isn’t enabled by space capabilities. The last couple days have highlighted just how integrated space is to everything that we do as a joint force, as well.”

Raymond’s visit to Ramstein also included time to meet newly transitioned members, complete with a new rank. As of Feb. 1, junior enlisted personnel who transition to or join the U.S. Space Force are now known as specialists.

“I had the great opportunity to meet my first-ever specialist, Spc4 Dylan Pittman, who transferred into the Space Force Monday,” said Raymond. “I was also able to meet with Spc4 Michael Gordiano, who also transferred Monday. Our Guardians are doing really important work here.”

In addition, this trip here provided him an opportunity to speak to U.S. Space Force Guardians at a scheduled all-call.

“I'm really looking forward to being able give them an update on where we are with the Space Force and get their inputs,” said Raymond. “One of the great things about building a new service is that we have an opportunity to build it fresh.”

According to Raymond, U.S. Space Force will increase in number dramatically by summer as we continue to transition Guardians into the service.

“We've selected about 6,400 Airmen who will transition over to be Guardians in the Space Force,” said Raymond. “Today we have approximately 2,400 Guardians, and over the course of the next few months we'll continue to transfer the remaining Airmen. We have about 10,000 civilians assigned to Space Force, as well. By summer, Space Force will be at about 16,000 of both active duty and civilian personnel.”

A plus in numbers that Raymond says is welcomed.

“I think if you go talk to any Guardian around the globe, they just want to provide value and contribute to protecting and defending our nation and protecting and defending our allied partners around the globe,” said Raymond. “When you need space, which is all the time, it is always there – and that’s our job.”