New DoD Policy To Ease Space Secrecy Near: Raymond

New DoD Policy To Ease Space Secrecy Near: Raymond

Gen. Jay Raymond

WASHINGTON: A new DoD policy to ease the high levels of classification surrounding all things space — from threat analyses to US capabilities to budgets — is nearing completion, says Gen. Jay Raymond.

“We are overly classified,” Raymond, who currently is double-hatted as head of both the Space Force and Space Command, told reporters this afternoon during a Mitchell Institute video conference.

He explained that too much secrecy is an obstacle to both deterring adversaries and working with allies. “To do that deterrence, you have to change the calculus of your opponent. And to do that, you have to be able to talk and you have to be able to message.”

Raymond’s words echo those emanating from a number of senior military space officers over the past several years. The push for declassification, insiders say, has been controversial within DoD — with pushback coming from those (primarily civilian) officials with backgrounds in “black space” for the Intelligence Community.

Raymond said that work is ongoing on a strategy to fix the classification problem, an effort that has included discussions with officials within DoD who set classification rules.

“In fact, we’re having a tabletop exercise to help inform that strategy this coming week,” he added.

While Raymond wouldn’t provide an exact date for the strategy’s release, he did say that changes were coming and the report is “getting very close.”

In a wide-ranging discussion, led by the Mitchell Institute’s David Deptula and followed by media questions, Raymond touched on issues from the affect of the COVID-19 pandemic on Space Force operations to his own future.

For example, Raymond said Space Force has “scrubbed” every planned launch on DoD’s manifest to calculate the risks to crews and contractors compared to the national security needs behind the launch. Due to that review, DoD has postponed the launch of the third GPS III satellite, dubbed Columbus, scheduled for April 29 on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket to the end of June.

Lockheed Martin is currently on contract to build 32 of the new configuration of the Global Positioning System satellites, which are being designed as more jam resistant than the current operational GPS satellites.

Raymond said his jobs as head of Space Command and the Space Force’s Chief of Space Operations will be split by the end of the year. Someone else will be nominated for the four-star Space Command spot — while he remains at the helm of Space Force.

“My expectation is that we will split those [two] hats sometime between now and the end of the year. There will be a separate officer that would command US Space Command; I would be focused as the CSO for the Space Force,” Raymond said.

“Just like any other Joint Command, all services would be able to nominate officers to command [Space Command]…It would be open to all services to be able to compete for that position,” he said.

Raymond’s remarks confirmed the widely-held expectation among insiders that he would opt to stay as Space Force chief for the traditional four-year term. So let the betting begin not only about who, but also from what service, will come the next head of Space Command!

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