Air Force space commander offers wisdom for ROTC cadets


Robert Lindert

 Gen. John Raymond, Commander of the Air Force Space Command, speaks to cadets at the Air Force Dining Out celebration. Courtesy of Anna Haas

Talon Delaney

Air Force ROTC cadets and their guests congregated at the Gateway Hotel conference hall to absorb the advice of a highly decorated serviceman and to recognize esteemed cadets Saturday evening.

Over a dozen accolades were awarded by the night’s end and General John “Jay” Raymond presented a speech outlining the values of leadership and the importance of the United States Air Force.

Raymond is not only a four-star General, the highest achievable rank in the military today, he is also the Commander of the Air Force Space Command (AFSC). Raymond and the AFSC manage “mission-ready space and cyberspace forces” that can observe and strike with unprecedented precision.

The night opened with a series of toasts. More than 200 glasses were raised to honor the Commander in Chief, US troops deployed overseas, and those who went to war and never came back.

Raymond was ecstatic to have the honor of speaking at the Air Force ROTC Dine Out. He himself is an ROTC graduate from Clemson University in South Carolina. His two daughters, Christina and Amy, attend ISU. 

“There’s almost nothing you do in your day-to-day lives that doesn’t rely on US space capabilities,” Raymond said, referring mainly to smart phone and GPS technologies.

Raymond oversees a force of 38,000 space and cyberspace experts at 134 locations around the world. The AFSC tracks approximately 23,000 objects in Earth’s orbit from manned and unmanned satellites to debris as small as softballs.

According to Raymond, the AFSC acts as the “air traffic controllers” of space, predicting and preventing the collision of satellites on a regular basis. On average, a satellite is maneuvered to safety based on warning from the US Air Force once every three days.

Raymond insisted that “potential adversaries” Russia and China have witnessed firsthand the space capabilities of the US Air Force and are working to undermine these advantages.

“Space is congested and contested,” Raymond said. “It is no longer a peaceful and benign domain.”

Raymond then shifted tones to discuss leadership. As a Commander with 33 years of military experience and nearly 40 thousand people working beneath him, he had much to say on the subject.

“Be a good person, that’s all you need,” Raymond advised.

To him, being thoughtful and understanding is essential to bringing out the best in those around you. He also urged listeners to never miss an opportunity to lead.

Raymond then encouraged the audience to take responsibility for their actions and to always make the right decision, even if it’s the hardest.

“Your integrity, nobody can take that from you,” Raymond said. “You can only give it away…and once you’ve done that you’re bankrupt as a leader.”

After Raymond’s speech concluded, the awards ceremony began. The prestigious accommodations honored those ROTC cadets who exemplified loyalty, charisma and untiring dedication to the Air Force.