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Raymond praises Space Force achievements & purpose while noting ongoing threats, challenges

Chief of Space Operations Gen. John W. “Jay” Raymond speaks during the 37th Space Symposium in Colorado Springs, Colorado, April 5, 2022.

Chief of Space Operations Gen. John W. “Jay” Raymond speaks during the 37th Space Symposium in Colorado Springs, Colorado, April 5, 2022.

ARLINGTON, Va. (AFNS) -- Using language that was both stark and an urgent call to action, Chief of Space Operations, Gen. John W. “Jay” Raymond, said April 5 that the cornerstone to U.S. security and prosperity is keeping space “accessible, stable, and secure.”

And while achieving that goal was once a foregone conclusion, it no longer is. That is why the U.S., its allies and most of all, the United States Space Force, must move aggressively to modernize space hardware and re-orient thinking and practices in the domain, Raymond said in a speech at the 37th Space Symposium in Colorado Springs, Colo.

“We find ourselves in a period of great competition for space with nations that don’t share our view,” Raymond to an audience of space experts and advocates from government, military, industry and academia. “…. It’s a competition where the outcome is no longer assured, and it’s a competition that we cannot lose.  Because if we lose our access and ability to operate freely in space, we all lose.”

Raymond’s speech was in many ways a forceful bookend with additional details to one delivered less than an hour earlier to the same audience by Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall.

Taken together the two speeches removed any doubt that space is universally recognized as a conflict zone that must be defended and protected using new practices and more sophisticated hardware. The remarks by both men reflected significant shift from Dec. 20, 2019, when the Space Force was born.

Raymond, like Kendall, described the threats in space by “strategic competitors” such as China and Russia and how the United States must work harder and faster to maintain superiority.

“We must pivot to a more resilient space architecture,” Raymond said. “Resilience is more than a buzz-word. Resilient space architectures can be protected, they can survive through that contested nature (of the domain), they degrade gracefully when attacked, and can be rapidly reconstituted if lost.”

It means, in short, moving from using old, hard to maneuver and defend satellites and systems to those that aren’t.

“If deterrence were to fail, we would face an adversary that has integrated space into all aspects of their military operations. They use space to detect, track, and target our forces with long-range precision weapons,” Raymond said.

Space, Raymond said, “provides the foundation of everything we do as a joint force, from delivering humanitarian assistance to combat on the ground, in the air, and at sea. Our joint operational plans assume assured access to space. … We cannot afford to lose space; without it we will fail.”

Less than an hour earlier, Kendall was even more blunt: “Space is a warfighting domain now,” he said.

Framing the current environment in space this way was the foundation of Raymond’s explanation for what the Space Force is doing and why. Space, as it exists today is “the most complex strategic time in at least three generations—a hinge in history,” Raymond said.

The Space Force was created specifically as a response, Raymond said, noting, “Our nation understands this importance and has elevated space to a level commensurate with its criticality. That’s why we established the Space Force just over two years ago, to meet our new global security environment.”

He outlined three areas where space plays a crucial role in the nation’s broader national security – “integrated deterrence, campaigning, and actions that build enduring advantage” – and offered specific achievements within each category as examples of the Space Force’s growth.

“Integrated deterrence is about combining our national strengths to maximum effect across all instruments of power, across domains, across theaters of operation, across the spectrum of conflict, and across our unmatched network of alliances and partners,” he said.

“Integrated deterrence is the cornerstone of our National Defense Strategy and it starts in space. … Space creates options across the entire spectrum of conflict – for example, imagery and intelligence to support diplomatic negotiations and treaty verification; ensuring we can manage escalation; and protecting communications for our nation,” Raymond said.

Getting there explains why the Space Force is moving aggressively to precisely determine what equipment is needed and tailor its budget to launch and sustain new satellites.

“The first step in building more resilient space capabilities is designing the force you need. … How many satellites, which payloads, in what orbits, and what ground infrastructure, to balance performance, cost, and resilience?  SWAC (or the Space Warfighting and Analysis Center) helps us answer that question,” Raymond said.

Space Force is already moving on some of the conclusions. For example, the freshly submitted fiscal year 2023 budget request for Space Force call for a “$1 billion investment toward resilient missile warning and tracking.”

Raymond and others across the Space Force are working to increase the pace of launches, to train and sustain a cadre of 90 Space Force “supracoders” in 2023 that get new – better – software into the hands of operators faster. Space Force is working to ensure “enduring advantage” by implementing systems and practices that make possible “building a far more robust operational test and evaluation capability.  All these pieces make ‘fast’ the new standard, not the exception,” he said.

All of these efforts are interconnected to create what Raymond says will be a “space architecture” that more precise, more reliable, more potent and “resilient.”

“Resilience is important because it denies the adversary first mover advantage,” he said. “The benefit of a sudden decisive attack in space.  Resilience bolsters integrated deterrence and it keeps the peace.”

If that rationale is too vague, Raymond drove home the point earlier in his remarks.

“Our primary purpose is to deter war,” he said. “We do that by showing strength, by showing that we would win. In peacetime, we must be visibly present in orbit – just as we are on land, on the sea, and in the air – to show that the rules-based order that has been upheld since World War II applies everywhere.”

As he has done since he became the Space Force’s senior military officer, Raymond also noted the importance of allies and a new, more efficient and collaborative relationship with industry as keys to success.

“We can only achieve these goals with our international partners, who are absolutely critical to our campaigning activities.  We only succeed in deterrence and conflict, if we find common cause with our allies and partners,” he said, mentioning Australia, Germany, France, United Kingdom and Japan by name as especially close collaborators.

The collaboration with industry is important too, Raymond said, but only if it breaks the traditional mold by being faster, more efficient and cheaper.

“To those in industry: change with us. Bring your best talent, be willing to do business differently, challenge our assumptions. In the private sector, adopting digital practices has cut delivery times by 40 percent – match, or beat, that,” he said.

“We need to focus on the reduction of cost as a key driver to build incredibly distributed architectures that are resilient in a fight,” Raymond said in a direct call to action to industry. “ … The government cannot afford a distributed, resilient force design unless industry makes that change with us. We need you to deliver.”