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US Space Force continues to meet mission demands despite COVID-19

Stephen Kuper

Chief of Space Operations, General John Raymond, has moved to reaffirm the commitment of US Space Force to continue with critical space missions even though America’s newest military service is taking “active measures” to protect personnel from COVID-19.

US Space Force continues to meet mission demands despite COVID-19
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In addition to rigorously following federal guidelines to protect personnel from a virus for which there is no vaccine or immunity, Gen Raymond said more stringent steps such as “sequestering certain crews” are being taken in some locations to ensure the COVID-19 has minimal impact on critical operations.

“In the face of COVID-19 we are continuing to provide the capabilities that are critical our American way of life. I’m very comfortable that we will continue to provide those capabilities without fail,” Gen Raymond explained.

Even so, some aspects of the Space Force are affected.

Like other branches of the military, Gen Raymond has instituted a flexible approach that allows local commanders to adjust protections based on local circumstances.

He added, “There are some things we have scaled back. For example, we have cancelled Space Flag training … We’re going to mitigate the loss of that by doing more local training.”

Gen Raymond also noted that the critical planning to successfully build and sustain the Space Force is progressing and that the actual number of commissioned Space Force personnel is on the verge of growing.

Currently, Gen Raymond and newly installed Space Force Senior Enlisted Advisor, Chief Master Sergeant Roger Towberman, are the only two official members of the Space Force.

That number will grow later this month when 88 graduates from the Air Force Academy will be directly commissioned into the force.

Those Space Professionals are augmented by 16,000 Air Force personnel who are currently assigned to the US Space Force.

Gen Raymond said he is pleased with status of the force and is pressing the planners to innovate.

“We haven’t taken our foot off the accelerator in establishing the Space Force. We’ve been provided a huge opportunity to build the service from the ground up and start with a clean sheet of paper that is not tied to how we’ve done business in the past. We are building a service that is purpose-built for the challenges that we face in the space domain,” Gen Raymond added.

He said work continues on developing an acquisition strategy that must be conveyed to Congress.

Gen Raymond also said work continues on an overarching Space Force doctrine that will help define the priorities, capabilities and culture of the institution. A major element of that doctrine, he said, is ensuring seamless connection with the joint force.

“Our desire is not to get into a conflict that begins or extends into space. We want to deter that from happening. But if deterrence were to fail, we are going to have to fight for space superiority in the future. And to do that will require the full weight of the joint force and so that will require Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and the Space Force to gain that space superiority,” Gen Raymond explained.

In response to a question about the pace of developing and establishing the Space Force, Raymond noted a formal action 31 March by Secretary of the Air Force Barbara Barrett that identified 23 US Air Force organisations whose space-related missions will soon transfer to the Space Force.

Under Secretary Barrett’s action, the goal is to have each of the 23 space missions formally transferred from the Air Force into the Space Force within the next three to six months based on timing and conditions specific to each organisation and mission.

Gen Raymond and Air Force Chief of Staff General David Goldfein have been delegated the authority to actually execute the transfer when they jointly agree the necessary conditions have been met to affect a smooth transfer.

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