Air Force General Tapped to Head US Space Command

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Lt. Gen. John Raymond, Headquarters U.S. Air Force deputy chief of staff for operations, gives an acceptance speech after receiving the Air Force Association General Thomas D. White Space Award Nov. 20, 2015. Raymond was nominated March 26, 2019 to serve as the first head of U.S. Space Command. (Courtesy Photo/Kelly Shemp)
Lt. Gen. John Raymond, Headquarters U.S. Air Force deputy chief of staff for operations, gives an acceptance speech after receiving the Air Force Association General Thomas D. White Space Award Nov. 20, 2015. Raymond was nominated March 26, 2019 to serve as the first head of U.S. Space Command. (Courtesy Photo/Kelly Shemp)

The Trump administration has nominated the head of Air Force Space Command (AFSPC) to lead the Defense Department's newest combatant command.

The Pentagon on Tuesday announced that Gen. John "Jay" Raymond, commander of AFSPC at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado, has been nominated to lead U.S. Space Command, the combatant command officials have called a stepping stone to creating a U.S. Space Force. In December, Vice President Mike Pence announced that President Donald Trump had signed a memorandum creating U.S. Space Command.

If confirmed, Raymond would hold both positions, at least for the time being.

Whether AFSPC will be absorbed by USSPACECOM has not been determined, though officials have said the Pentagon will begin a mission transfer and realignment of units between fiscal 2021 and 2022, per a strategic Space Force budget overview.

Space policy and budget experts have said it would be wise to streamline operations at Peterson because it already hosts a robust space mission.

Raymond, who has held his current position since 2016, is also the Joint Force Space Component Commander and directs U.S. Strategic Command space forces. STRATCOM oversees the nuclear command-and-control mission, with responsibility for space operations as well as global strike and missile defense.

He was previously the Air Force deputy chief of staff for operations at the Pentagon.

In related news, Air Force Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Harrigian has been nominated to lead U.S. Air Forces Europe-U.S. Air Forces Africa Command, according to a separate DoD announcement.

Harrigian, who will pin on his fourth star if the nomination is approved, is currently the USAFE deputy commander under Air Force Gen. Tod Wolters. The Pentagon said March 15 that the president has appointed Wolters to be the next supreme allied commander of NATO and head of U.S. European Command, replacing retiring Army Gen. Curtis M. "Mike" Scaparrotti.

Harrigian, a fighter pilot with experience in both the F-22 Raptor and F-15C Eagle, previously served as commander of Air Forces Central Command and the combined forces air component between 2016 and 2018, overseeing the air campaign against the Taliban in Afghanistan and against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

Prior to his Middle East post, he was director of the F-35 Integration Office at Air Force headquarters in the Pentagon.

-- Oriana Pawlyk can be reached at oriana.pawlyk@military.com. Follow her on Twitter at @Oriana0214.

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