Clemson Alumnus Heads New US Space Force

The last time it happened was just two years after the end of World War II when President Harry Truman signed the National Security Act of 1947 creating a separate United States Air Force. Last December, President Trump signed the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act creating the United States Space Force, America’s first new military service in more than 70 years. What makes the event more historic is that a Clemson alumnus is the service’s first chief. General John W. “Jay” Raymond is the University’s highest-ranking alumnus and will be the first to serve as a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Raymond was an obvious choice as the first Chief of Space Operations. He previously served as commander of Air Force Space Command, Joint Force Space Component, and the United States Space Command. “The first decision the president made after establishing the Space Force was deciding who should be its first leader,” said Vice President Mike Pence prior to delivering the oath of office to Raymond. “I can tell you, he never hesitated. He knew right away there was no one more qualified or more prepared from a lifetime of service than General Jay Raymond to serve as the first leader of the Space Force.”

Raymond, the son of Barbara and John Raymond, grew up in Alexandria, Virginia. He graduated from Clemson with a Bachelor of Science degree in administrative management and was commissioned as an Air Force officer in 1984. Raymond earned Master’s Degrees in administrative management from Central Michigan University in 1990 and in National Security and Strategic Studies from the Naval War College in 2003. He also attended the Joint Forces Staff College.

As Chief of Space Operations, Raymond will be responsible for organizing, training, and equipping forces to protect US and allied interests in space and provide freedom of operations for the

United States in, from and to space. In establishing the new force, President Trump called for the United States to establish dominance in space.

Space is already of great importance to the US economy. From satellite-transmitted news, sports, and entertainment to the Global Positioning System, civilians as well as the military rely on space-based systems. A 2019 Pentagon report asserted that both China and Russia are attempting to develop technologies that could disrupt or even destroy US and allied satellites during a time of conflict or war. “We want to deter that conflict from happening,” Raymond said. “The best way I know how to do that is through a position of strength.”

Space Force joins the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard as the United States’ national defense forces. The new branch will fall under the administrative control of the Department of the Air Force, but is a co-equal branch alongside its more senior services.

Photo credits: US Space Force; Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead