WASHINGTON – The newly installed leader of U.S. Air Force Space Command said the military must be prepared to defend its space-enabled advantages, and that space operators are going to be at the forefront of any joint fight.

In a memo sent to Air Force Space Command personnel Oct. 25, Gen. John “Jay” Raymond, said the organization must be ready for a rapidly changing environment.

“As we move into our 35th year as a Command, we can’t do business the way we have in the past…we don’t have that luxury,” Raymond said. “Space and cyberspace are no longer benign environments, they are contested operational domains.”

Raymond formerly served as the Air Force deputy chief of staff for operations at the Pentagon from August 2015 to October 2016.

He took over command of Air Force Space Command Oct. 25 from Gen. John Hyten, who is set to replace Navy Adm. Cecil Haney  on Nov. 3 as the head of U.S. Strategic Command.

In the Commander’s Initial Guidance and Intent – a letter often sent out by the new head of a command — Raymond said that the operations in space and cyberspace “provide tremendous strategic and operational advantages for our nation.”

“Our adversaries have noticed and we are now facing new challenges that could disrupt our warfighting capabilities and threaten our national interests,” he wrote. “How we respond to the growing challenges in these domains will shape our ability to protect vital national interests well into the future.”

Part of that response will be ensuring that space operations support all defense activities. Airmen must be prepared for multi-domain actions as space increasingly becomes integrated with air, land, sea, and cyber.

Likewise, Air Force Space Command must make an effort to partner more closely with “the intelligence community and other government agencies, our allies and foreign partners, and the civil and commercial sectors,” Raymond wrote.

“When we operated in benign environments, these partnerships were important; in contested domains they are critical,” the general wrote.

Raymond said he was confident Space Command airmen could meet the challenges ahead, noting that the command has “a history of change and innovation dating back to its creation in 1982.”

“We must embrace that heritage and use it as our foundation for moving forward,” he said. “Yesterday’s Air Force Space Command does not meet today’s reality or tomorrow’s challenges.”

Phillip Swarts is the military space reporter for SpaceNews. He previously covered space and advanced technology for Air Force Times, the Justice Department for The Washington Times, and investigative journalism for the Washington Guardian;...