Saltzman Takes Over as U.S. Space Force Commander

Saltzman Takes Over as U.S. Space Force Commander

Gen. B. Chance Saltzman took command of U.S. Space Force today as Gen. Jay Raymond retires after 38 years of service. At a ceremony attended by military and industry leaders, Raymond was heralded for his leadership as “the father of the Space Force” in standing up the new service, created almost exactly three years ago. Saltzman, one of Raymond’s deputies, inherits the mantle and vowed to build on Raymond’s success.

Among the military dignitaries at the ceremony this morning at Joint Base Andrews, MD were Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley, and Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall.

L-R: Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall, outgoing Chief of Space Operations Gen. John “Jay” Raymond, and incoming CSO Gen. B. Chance Saltzman at the U.S. Space Force transition ceremony at Joint Base Andrews, Md., Nov. 2, 2022.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Wayne A. Clark)

The U.S. Space Force was created in the FY2020 National Defense Authorization Act on December 20, 2019 as the nation’s sixth military service. It is part of the Department of the Air Force just as the Marine Corps is part of the Department of the Navy.

Raymond was the first member of the U.S. Space Force. A career Air Force officer with a long history in national security space, he had to resign from the Air Force to join the Space Force (as have others) since it is a different military service. Today, the Space Force has about 15,000 military and civilian personnel, split about 50-50. The military personnel transferred from the Air Force or other services or are new recruits.

New Chief of Space Operations Gen. B. Chance Saltzman speaks at the transition ceremony at Joint Base Andrews, MD, Nov. 2, 2022. (U.S. Air Force photo by Andy Morataya)

Saltzman is another career national security space officer. He praised Raymond for doing the “heavy lifting” of creating the Space Force and being a mentor, and promised “relentlessly to make the Space Force the combat-ready force that our nation needs.”

Since 2020, Saltzman (“Salty”) has been Raymond’s Deputy Chief of Space Operations for Operations, Cyber and Nuclear. During his Senate confirmation hearing he cited China as “the most immediate threat.”

At today’s ceremony, Austin gave Raymond a “well done” for laying the cultures and traditions of the new service, recruiting “tough and innovative warfighters to be his teammates” and “made it look easy.”

Austin continued: “we’re lucky to have General Saltzman take the colors today” and stressed the role of the Space Force as “crucial to integrated deterrence” especially with regard to China.

That means space systems that are ever-more resilient.

It means a relentless pursuit of innovation and technological advancements that will help us maintain and expand our edge.

It means shaping norms for space activity to make it more costly for any would-be aggressor to violate those rules of the road.

And it means working together with our partners and allies to keep building our collective strength in space. — Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin III presents Gen. John “Jay” Raymond with the Defense Distinguished Service Medal at the Space Force Change of Reponsibility Ceremony, Joint Base Andrews, November 2, 2022. Photo credit: Chad McNeeley, DOD

Kendall called Raymond “the father of the Space Force” and congratulated him for “establishing a totally new enterprise that would have to be small in size, but enormous in importance and mission.”

For his part, Raymond started by joking that he stood there “homeless, unemployed and humbled” after his long career in the military, but then emotionally thanked not only family and friends, but a number of people in the audience.

One was Rep. Jim Cooper (D-TN) who along with Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL) led the effort to create the Space Force, which they called the Space Corps.

I’d like to take a special moment to single out Congressman Cooper. [People] talk about General Raymond being the father of the Space Force, that’s not true. This was bipartisan support of Congress and there were two significant leaders in that and that was Congressman Cooper and Congressman Rogers. Sir, thank you for being here. — Gen. Jay Raymond

Another was SpaceX founder and chief engineer Elon Musk, who also got a shout-out from Gen. Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Raymond acknowleged Musk along with several other industry leaders in attendance, but Milley singled out only Musk saying “what he [Musk] symbolizes in reality is the combination of the civil and military cooperation and teamwork that makes the United States the most powerful country in space.”

SpaceX just launched the Space Force’s USSF-44 payload from Cape Canaveral yesterday morning on a Falcon Heavy rocket. It has become a major launch service provider to the Space Force and is credited with lowering launch costs to DOD through competition with the United Launch Alliance.

User Comments has the right (but not the obligation) to monitor the comments and to remove any materials it deems inappropriate.  We do not post comments that include links to other websites since we have no control over that content nor can we verify the security of such links.