Chief of Space Operations, Gen. John Raymond, unveiled
Nov. 9 a seminal document that aims to cement the new service’s purpose
and identity while also outlining specific management principles for
guiding the Space Force’s development, future and success.
Entitled “Chief of Space Operations’ Planning Guidance,” the 16-page
formal guidance carries far more weight, insight and significance than
its title suggests. Raymond released the document as the nation’s newest
and smallest military service approaches its first anniversary on Dec.
“I expect all uniformed and civilian space professionals, and USAF
personnel assigned to USSF units and staffs, to read and begin
implementing this guidance immediately,” Raymond says in the document.
To underscore the importance of that order he repeats it – virtually
word-for-word – elsewhere in the document.
Speaking to multiple audiences, some of whom are still unclear about the
force’s purpose and plans, the document provides Raymond’s vision for a
unity of effort and outlook as well as clear descriptions of his vision
for the service’s attitude and operation. Raymond says in the document
that achieving these elements will assure results across five core
priorities. Those priorities are:

  • Empower a Lean and Agile Service;
  • Develop Joint Warfighters in World Class Teams;
  • Deliver New Capabilities at Operationally Relevant Speeds;
  • Expand Cooperation to Enhance Prosperity and Security, and;
  • Create a Digital Service to Accelerate Innovation

“We will design and build a Space Force to meet three cornerstone
responsibilities: preserve freedom of action, enable Joint lethality and
effectiveness, and provide independent options – in, from, and to
space,” Raymond says in the document. “We must build a force that allows
civilian decision makers and Joint commanders to fully exploit the
space domain to achieve national strategic objectives.”
He adds, “The Space Force has a mandate in national strategy, policy,
and law to be both pathfinder and protector of America’s interests as a
space‐faring nation.”
Getting there, Raymond says, demands a different approach and attitude
from what is often seen – and embraced – across the U.S. military.
“The process of designing and building a new Service requires productive
disruption,” Raymond proclaims. “We cannot deliver the new capabilities
the nation requires while remaining indistinguishable from the ways and
means of our past. I expect commanders and program managers to accept
moderate risk associated with innovation and experimentation to build an
agile force that better ensures our long‐term competitive advantage in
Throughout the document, Raymond clearly communicates a call for bold
action. “Failing to accept risk that accompanies innovation and
experimentation will slow capability development and transfer risk to
Joint warfighters,” he says. And later “…be bold, your leaders and your
Nation expect it.”
Internally, Raymond says in the document what he has said often in
public – the force needs to be small, agile and designed to make
decisions fast and with a boost from data and information.
The force, he says, must be a “digital force” that constantly innovates,
moves faster and improves. “In order to accelerate our Service
transformation to a data driven ‘digital service,’ we have created a new
Technology and Innovation Office (TIO),” Raymond says in the document.
Behaviors and practices as well as culture must change as well.
“The potential speed and scale of space warfare means a traditional
‘command by affirmation’ style, where a subordinate echelon assumes they
are limited to narrowly prescribed authorities unless explicitly
authorized by higher echelons, likely incurs a dangerous disadvantage.
“Therefore, I direct a default command style of ‘command by negation’
where subordinate echelons are expected to default to action except
where a higher echelon has specifically reserved authority,” he writes
in the document.
At the field command level, the focus is on a “flattened” force
structure reducing the number of commands from “five echelons to three.”
That approach, Raymond says, “reflects a mission focused force design.”
The on-the-ground effect is that the Space Operations Command (SpOC) is
the primary force provider of space forces. Space Systems Command (SSC),
meanwhile, will be responsible for developing, acquiring, and fielding
effective and resilient space capabilities. Finally, Space Training and
Readiness Command (STARCOM) will educate and train space professionals
and conduct operational test and evaluation of systems.
These changes and the Space Force’s success – and its existence – are
critical to address a host of tangible and identifiable conditions in
space that touch directly on the nation’s military and economic security
and other national necessities, Raymond writes.
“The convergence of proliferating technology and competitive interests
has forever re‐defined space from a benign domain to one in which we
anticipate all aspects of human endeavor – including warfare,” Raymond
says in the document. “The return of peer, great power competitors has
dramatically changed the global security environment and space is
central to that change.”
If that description is too vague, Raymond adds focus.
“Both China and Russia continue to improve their space‐based
intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) and communications
capabilities to support long‐range kill chains that hold U.S. and allied
terrestrial forces at risk,” Raymond writes, adding that the threat
will only grow.
“In addition to space capabilities, both China and Russia have elevated
information superiority and decision speed to be central tenants of
their doctrine,” he says in the document.
These approaches as well as the different culture and training regime
are necessary, Raymond asserts, because space is unlike any other
contested area where the U.S. military operates.
The document closes with a call to action: “The strategic environment
demands we act boldly now. … We do not have the luxury of delay for
further analysis.”