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Raymond talks economy, security, leadership at Naval Academy

CSO Speaks at US Naval Academy

U.S. Space Force Chief of Space Operations Gen. John W. “Jay” Raymond addresses the Brigade of Midshipmen during a Forrestal lecture in Alumni Hall at the U.S. Naval Academy. Raymond described how the United States Navy’s rich history at sea and its global missions today provide apt comparisons – and guideposts – for meeting the challenges and responsibilities faced by the U.S. Space Force as it grows and matures. The Forrestal Lecture Series was established in 1970 to honor James V. Forrestal, the first Secretary of Defense. The purpose of the series is to enhance the education, awareness, and appreciation of the Brigade of Midshipmen for the social, political, and cultural dimensions of the Nation and the world. (U.S. Navy photo by Kenneth D. Aston Jr/Released)

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AFNS) -- Speaking at the U.S. Naval Academy last week, Chief of Space Operations, Gen. John W. “Jay” Raymond, said that the U.S. Navy’s experience in the maritime domain provides apt comparisons – and guideposts – for meeting the challenges and responsibilities faced by the U.S. Space Force as it grows and matures.

He described space as a warfighting domain, asserting that space capabilities underpin all instruments of national power. “Space is global,” he said, “and is key to our economy and national security.” And for that reason, he continued, the domain is threatened. The increasingly congested, competitive, and contested environment led to the creation of the first independent military service branch dedicated to space—the U.S. Space Force.

The lecture series, at which Raymond spoke to more than 4,000 Midshipmen, faculty, and staff, was established in 1970 and named in honor of James V. Forrestal, the first Secretary of Defense. It is a high-profile event that attracts notable military and political figures as well as those from the arts, business and sports. Past speakers include former President Bill Clinton, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen, separate appearances by former Secretaries of State Henry Kissinger and Hillary Clinton and by newspaper columnist George Will, among others.

The stated purpose of the Forrestal Lecture series is to, “enhance the education, awareness, and appreciation of the members of the Brigade of Midshipmen in the social, political and cultural dimensions of the Nation and the world.” In keeping with these themes, Raymond offered an update of the Space Force’s development, focusing on the imperative to build the service for the long-term and describing how the pursuit of a digital force will lead Guardians—the military and civilian members of the USSF—to prize software over hardware, as Space is a big data challenge.

He reflected on history, noting that many consider the Gulf War to be the first “Space War.” Raymond described how early integration of space capabilities during Operation Desert Storm spurred a strategic advantage that continues to this day.

However, success integrating space into joint operations has induced potential vulnerabilities as well. Raymond shared an anecdote from WWII when hundreds of bombers would be sent to strike one target, whereas today—because of space—one bomber is able to precisely strike dozens of targets with pinpoint accuracy. “The Air Force does not have enough bombers in its inventory to revert back to WWII,” he said, and because of that, we cannot afford to lose space.  

In recognition that amidst the Midshipmen gathered for the lecture were several future Guardians, Raymond concluded by offering some thoughts on leadership. 

“Hold people accountable,” he encouraged. “Hold yourself accountable … [and] never pass up an opportunity to lead.”