Air Force Space Command (AFSPC) Commander Gen. John Raymond has been nominated to become the first leader of the newly established U.S. Space Command, the Pentagon said March 26.
A general officer’s announcement released Tuesday afternoon confirmed that Raymond will continue to serve as AFSPC commander out of Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado, pending Senate confirmation.
While the decision to tap Raymond to lead the new combatant command did not come as a surprise – as Air Force Space Command Commander, he already wears a dual hat as the Joint Force Space Component Commander and his name has been circling for weeks as the front runner for the USSPACECOM position – it remains to be seen whether this is a temporary position, or whether the U.S. Space Command commander and the Air Force Space Command commander will be one and the same in the future.
Senior administration officials including Vice President Mike Pence have stated the goal is to stand up the new U.S. Space Command by 2020. Raymond’s current term is scheduled to expire in 2022, Air Force Space Command previously told Defense Daily. He took over his current role in October 2016, and previously held the roles of Air Force deputy chief of staff for operations and of AFSPC 14th Air Force commander.
While the Tuesday announcement notes that Raymond, if confirmed, would lead from Peterson AFB – the headquarters of Air Force Space Command – Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan told lawmakers that same day that a permanent headquarter location had not yet been picked.
Rep. Michael Waltz (R-Fla.) asked Shanahan whether a headquarters location had been chosen during a full House Armed Services Committee (HASC) Tuesday; Shanahan replied, “No.”
Waltz, who represents Florida’s 6th District to include Daytona Beach, has openly advocated for placing the headquarters on the “Space Coast” in Florida (Defense Daily, Feb. 19.).
“I would submit to you that space is in Florida’s DNA,” he said during the hearing. Waltz’s time was immediately followed by fellow freshman HASC member Rep. Jason Crow (D-Colo.), whose district is near Peterson AFB as well as Schriever AFB. Crow quipped, “Colorado is a mile closer to space.”
Louisiana lawmakers are also pushing for the new combatant command to be based in their state (Defense Daily, March 18).
The Pentagon’s fiscal year 2020 budget request released earlier this month included $83 million to stand up U.S. Space Command, over $75 million of which would be transferred from existing accounts.