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When the sky is not the limit

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U.S. Space Force Gen. John "Jay" Raymond

Gen. John “Jay” Raymond is charged with a monumental task: inventing the U.S. Space Force, the first new branch of the armed services since 1947. His warfighting domain is even bigger: space—just like air, land, and sea, only bigger than all three combined. “[U.S. Space Command’s] area of responsibility (AOR) starts at 100 kilometers above the earth globally and higher. It’s a vast domain.”

Complicating his job is the fact that space operations are crucial to every branch of service as well as all 11 global combatant commands. Gen. Raymond’s Space Force has to seamlessly integrate his activities with all of them.

“We have to get this right,” he told C|S. “Our way of life is tightly coupled to space capabilities, and so is our way of war. Our adversaries have watched us, and they’ve seen the advantage that these capabilities have provided, and they don’t like what they see.”

Raymond says our enemies are rapidly developing capabilities to rival ours while simultaneously attempting to deny us access to space, “everything from jamming satellite communications or GPS to lasers that can blind or damage them to cyber threats to kinetic destruction.” In 2007, China destroyed a satellite with a ground-launched missile. In 2017, Russia launched what Raymond describes as a “nesting doll,” a satellite that opens up to reveal another satellite, which, in turn, launches a projectile…right next to one of our satellites.

We asked Gen. Raymond how he'll know if he’s successful: “If space remains free from conflict. We do not want to get into a war that begins or extends into space. We want to deter that from happening.”

Note that the General just defined “success” as the absence of conflict. We must admit, we never saw that coming...just like a threat from space.