Air Force Gen. John “Jay” Raymond was sworn in as the first chief of space operations to lead the nascent U.S. Space Force Jan. 14, becoming the first-ever Space Force officer.
The swearing-in ceremony took place at the White House and was presided over by Vice President Mike Pence, who lauded the “historic day” where the U.S. military would get its first leader of a new armed services branch in over 70 years.
“In June of 2018, President [Donald] Trump … called for the creation of the Space Force,” Pence said Tuesday. “And today, Gen. Jay Raymond will take his position as the first officer of the United States Space Force.”
Present for the ceremony were Pentagon officials including Defense Secretary Mark Esper, Air Force Secretary Barbara Barrett, Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Air Force Gen. John Hyten and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein. Representing Congress were Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.) – a longtime advocate and one of the original architects on the Hill of a “Space Corps” under the Air Force – and Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), both members of their chamber’s armed services committee.
Pence said he was present when Trump made the decision to select Raymond as the new service’s leader. “He never hesitated. He knew right away that there was no one more qualified or more prepared from a lifetime of service than Gen. Jay Raymond, as the first leader of the Space Force.”
Raymond, who has served in the Air Force for over 35 years, also serves as commander of the Defense Department’s newest combatant command, U.S. Space Command, since August and was previously the commander of Air Force Space Command (AFSPC) beginning in 2016. AFSPC was re-designated as a Title 10-authorized armed service under the Air Force and named the U.S. Space Force when Trump signed the fiscal year 2020 National Defense Authorization Act on Dec. 20, 2019.
He highlighted the oath’s location as significant, taking place in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building which housed the Departments of State, War and the Navy in the late 19th century and now houses the Office of the Vice President.
“When you walk in the door, the history seeps out of the walls,” Raymond said. “Today, we add one more historical event to its long and impressive history.”
“The president and Congress have given us a great opportunity to build the force we need to respond to the challenges that we face in the space domain,” he added. “We have our marching orders and we are moving out. We do not want a conflict to begin or extend into space; we want to deter that conflict from happening.”