The Pentagon announced today that the Joint Chiefs of Staff has been expanded to include General John Raymond, Chief of Space Operations. This brings the war cabinet total to eight members. The decision to enlarge the group was signed into law earlier this year, and while General Raymond won’t be officially added to the roster of America’s most senior uniformed leaders until the one-year anniversary of the formation of Space Force on Sunday, December 20, he says he has already been received by his peers.
“You’ve treated me like a member ever since [the law was signed],” General Raymond said during the ceremony at the Pentagon. “I can’t thank you enough. I can’t thank my teammates enough. It’s a real privilege to sit at this table.”
The Joint Chiefs occupy a critical role in national security. They are the primary advisory body on all military matters and report to the president, secretary of defense, the Homeland Security Council, and the National Security Council. The incorporation of the Space Force underscores the new focus on space and cybersecurity. It suggests that the newest military branch will be responsible for more than just monitoring satellites and overseeing scientific space missions.
“We recognize it clearly as a warfighting domain. And we also know that we, the United States, we’ve got to maintain capabilities in that domain if we are going to continue to deter a great power war,” Chairman of the Joint Chiefs General Mark Milley said during the induction ceremony.
“This is an incredibly important organization for the United States military and for the United States as a country,” he added.
At present, the Space Force is still relatively small. While the DoD reports that it is slated to expand to roughly 20,000 servicemembers in the coming years, even at that number it would be half the size of the Coast Guard, the smallest of the military branches with roughly 40,000 active-duty servicemembers. The Army, the largest branch, had over 450,000 active duty members and another 280,000 in the Reserves at last count according to a 2019 report.
The size and makeup of the Joint Chiefs of Staff has evolved over the years since the body was created in 1942. At that time, it comprised the chairman and the chiefs of the Army, the Navy, and the Air Force. In 1978, the Commandant of the Marine Corps was added, followed by the chief of the National Guard Bureau in 2012.
The current members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff are Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army General Mark A. Milley; Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Air Force General John E. Hyten; Chief of Staff of the Army General James C. McConville; Commandant of the Marine Corps General David H. Berger; Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Michael M. Gilday; Chief of Staff of the Air Force General Charles Q. Brown Jr.; Chief of the National Guard Bureau Army General Daniel R. Hokanson; and now Chief of Space Operations Gen. John W. Raymond.
The Space Force is technically a department of the Air Force. As the Space Force expands it will draw on support from the Air Force which will provide personnel and offer administrative support “allowing the space professionals to concentrate on their missions,” the DoD said in today’s statement.
According to the United States Space Force, or USSF, it will rely on the Air Force for “more than 75 percent of its enabling functions” including “logistics, base operating support, civilian personnel management, business systems, IT support, and audit agencies.” In this way, the Space Force is working to remain agile, avoid duplicative staff roles, and keep costs down.
Until recently, skeptics and critics had an easier time relegating the USSF to a kind of military pet project initiated by off-the-cuff ideations of the president throughout 2018. But as the mission of the Space Force has begun to solidify, so has its credibility. A video recently released by America’s newest military branch puts it this way: “When foreign powers can build bases on the dark side of the moon when private companies are inventing a new economy beyond our planet, we need to stay one step ahead of the future.”
The addition of General Raymond to the Joint Chiefs is surely confirmation that the Space Force is an integral part of our national security and isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.