Jan. 14 (UPI) -- Gen. John Raymond was sworn in as the highest-ranking leader of the newly created U.S. Space Force Tuesday.
Vice President Mike Pence swore Raymond in as Chief of Space Operations in a formal ceremony at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, just weeks after President Donald Trump signed a bill designating Space Force as the sixth branch of the military.
"The President and Congress have given us a great opportunity to build the force we need to respond to the challenges that we face in the space domain," Raymond said.
"The first decision the president made after establishing the Space Force was deciding who should be its first leader," Pence said. "I was around when the President made that decision and I can tell you, he never hesitated. He knew right away there was no one more qualified or more prepared from a lifetime of service than Gen. Jay Raymond to serve as the first leader of the Space Force."
The text of the Defense spending bill re-designating the Air Force Space Command as the U.S. Space Force also designated Raymond as its leader.
He previously served as the commander of the Air Force Space Command, which managed a constellation of satellites and developed a policy and programs training frontline space operators.
Pence said Raymond comes from a family with a history of military service dating back to 1865.
According to a press release on the branch's website, the Space Force -- the first newly created branch of the military since 1947 -- will be responsible for training, equipping and organizing a cadre of space professionals to "protect U.S. and allied interests in space while also providing space capabilities to the joint force."
The Space Force will include about 16,000 active duty military personnel and civilian staff reassigned from Air Force Space Command, who are immediately assigned to the service but will undergo a formal transfer process requiring them to volunteer for and re-enlist in their new jobs.
The bill text prohibited any new billets, instead requiring the Department of Defense to draw from existing military personnel.