Raymond sworn in

Vice President Mike Pence congratulates Gen. Jay Raymond after swearing him in as the first Chief of Space Operations during a ceremony in the Executive Eisenhower Office Building, Washington, D.C., Jan 14, 2020. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Andy Morataya)

The Space Force got its first boss in a White House ceremony that saw Gen. Jay Raymond formally sworn in to the top post on Tuesday.

The White House even formalized the role Raymond has held since President Donald Trump signed a bill creating the force Dec. 20. Raymond adds the title to the others he now holds as the military's top space officer, including head of the Colorado Springs-based U.S. Space Command.

That makes him the sole member of the Pentagon's Joint Chiefs of Staff who holds combat responsibilities on top of the role of organizing, training and equipping troops for combat.

Raymond said his combined roles give him the job of stopping wars from reaching orbit.

“We want to deter that conflict from happening,” Raymond said after he was sworn in by Vice President Mike Pence, according to a news release. “The best way I know how to do that is through a position of strength.”

The Space Force's top job is to create a service loaded with well-trained experts who can control the military's constellation of satellites and defend what the nation has on orbit.

During the White House ceremony, Pence said Raymond was an easy choice for the job.

“The first decision the president made after establishing the Space Force was deciding who should be its first leader,” Pence said.

The service had been discussed by Congress for years, but was created after rising threats from nations including China and Russia drove Trump to back the idea.

The Space Force was authorized by Congress last month as a separate armed service that falls under the Department of the Air Force. It is initially being formed from what was Air Force Space Command in Colorado Springs and is expected to eventually incorporate elements from other armed services.

It is never expected to be as big as its peers. While the Army has just shy of 500,000 troops, the Space Force will begin with about 13,000, meaning the entire armed service could fit at Fort Carson twice with room to spare.

But the service has one of the military's biggest jobs, controlling an area that extends more than 22,000 miles above the planet's surface.

Details of the new service and Raymond's role haven't been settled. For the moment, its troops are still called "airmen," and the uniform for the new service remains Air Force blue. Space Force's units, including its headquarters and three space wings in Colorado, all reside on Air Force bases. 

Many of those details are expected to get worked out in the coming weeks as the new service gets itself organized.

One detail that isn't solved is Raymond's commute.

The top generals of the other armed services primarily spend their time in Washington and at the Pentagon just across the Potomac River. Raymond's U.S. Space Command responsibilities in Colorado Springs mean he'll have to split time between the Pentagon and Colorado.

The new service also inherits an unresolved issue over where to permanently house U.S. Space Command, which oversees the space efforts of all military services.

The command is now based in Colorado Springs, which absorbed it last year without any apparent problems. The Pikes Peak region has the military's biggest concentration of space troops and already had the infrastructure in place for the command.

But a political fight ensued over housing the command, with lawmakers from California to Florida lobbying for it. And while the issue was supposed to be resolved last summer, the command remains in limbo with no timeline for a decision .

Contact Tom Roeder: 636-0240

Twitter: @xroederx

City Editor

Tom Roeder is the Gazette's City Editor. In Colorado Springs since 2003, Tom has covered the military at home and overseas and has covered statehouses in Denver and Olympia, Wash. His main job, though, is being dad to two great kids.

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