COLORADO SPRINGS — The new U.S. Space Command will, at least for now, call Colorado Springs home and Air Force Gen. Jay Raymond will lead it while keeping his title as boss of Air Force Space Command.
President Donald Trump announced the general's nomination Tuesday morning to be "Commander, United States Space Command, and Commander, Air Force Space Command, Peterson Air Force Base."
Trump earlier this year announced the formation of U.S. Space Command, which was authorized by Congress in 2018 to oversee the satellite efforts of all military branches. Planning has been underway at Peterson to establish the new command, but who would lead it and where it would be housed has remained up in the air.
The initial announcement putting Raymond atop the command is not a guarantee that U.S. Space Command will stay here, but it could give Colorado Springs an early lead in the race to house it. The Pentagon is expected to enter into a formal process to determine where to put the command later this year.
So far, politicians in Florida, Alabama, Louisiana and Florida have made efforts to court the military to move the command to those states.
Colorado's congressional delegation fired off a letter to the Pentagon last month urging the Defense Department to put U.S. Space Command in Colorado, which is already home to the bulk of the military's space troops.
"By reestablishing Space Command in Colorado — as it was from 1985 to 2002 — the Department will capitalize on Colorado's existing military and intelligence missions and infrastructure to swiftly and comprehensively ensure space superiority over actors like Russia and China," the lawmakers wrote.
U.S. Space Command called Colorado home from the 1980s until 2003, when it was shut down and replaced by U.S. Northern Command. After that move, space missions fell on Air Force Space Command.
But the Trump administration and Congress have called for a greater emphasis on space as American rivals China and Russia grow their anti-satellite capabilities.
The unified command over space work is a down payment on a larger Trump administration plan to break off space activities into a separate Space Force.
While the Space Force idea has faced political opposition, U.S. Space Command has proven popular with lawmakers. The new command would be similar to Defense Department commands that oversee the Middle East and Pacific theaters. Those commands report directly to the defense secretary and operate with broad autonomy within their areas.
Raymond is the military's most experienced space expert.
Since entering the Air Force in 1984, Raymond has focused on satellites, rockets and missiles.
He's led the 21st Space Wing in Colorado Springs and the 14th Air Force in California. Before returning to Colorado Springs in 2016 to take over Air Force Space Command, he served in the Pentagon as the Air Force's operations chief.
Raymond will get more authority with the new job, but no more rank or pay. He's already topped out the Air Force's pay chart with four stars.
Raymond's nomination has been sent to the Senate for consideration, with a vote expected in the coming weeks.