Nunn School Faculty, Students, Talk Policy with Nation’s First Space Force Chief
By Michael Pearson
The nation’s first Chief of Space Operations talked policy with students and faculty in the Sam Nunn School of International Affairs during a Feb. 24 visit that also included tours of aerospace engineering labs, a visit to with President Ángel Cabrera, and a speech at the Kendeda Building.
“I think the space business is ripe for the intersection of policy and technology,” said Gen. John W. Raymond, who leads the new U.S. Space Force and also the U.S. Space Command.
Raymond, a career Air Force officer, became the first member of the Space Force when the newest branch of the U.S. armed forces was created in December. He is working to address a flood of issues, from the new branch’s uniforms and culture to how to respond to aggression in space, an area he said now resembles the “Wild Wild West” in terms of rules and policies.
His visit to campus originated with Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall, a distinguished professor of the practice in the Nunn School, who knew him from her time working in the administration of President Barack Obama. Mariel Borowitz, an assistant professor of space policy in the Nunn School, helped organize the visit with her colleague in the Daniel Guggenheim School of Aerospace Engineering, Glenn Lightsey.
Raymond started the day with breakfast with Air Force, Army, and Navy ROTC cadets, who appreciated the opportunity to speak directly with a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Lt. Zachary Gagis, a Navy ROTC instructor.
"They came away from the opportunity inspired by a new perspective on military service, the role of the U.S. in the world, and what future lies ahead in space and elsewhere," he said.
Raymond then toured aerospace engineering labs before visiting with Nunn School faculty and students. He capped the day at the Kendeda Building with a speech detailing his views on “Space as a Warfighting Domain.”
Adam Stulberg, chair of the Nunn School said it was an honor to host Raymond.
“It also was a great opportunity to showcase the Nunn School's research and teaching approaches to thinking through the implications of emerging scientific and technological developments for contemporary strategic issues that we confront on land and in space,” he said.
‘Nunn School at the Forefront’
In addition to a free-wheeling discussion with Nunn School students and faculty, Raymond also received demonstrations from students in the Modeling, Simulation, and Military Gaming class. That class pairs students studying international affairs with computer science and engineering students to develop simulations addressing original research questions related to historical and contemporary military battles.
After seeing demonstrations of research on the World War II Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and the battle for Midway, Raymond noted how issues of technology and policy were woven through his visit, highlighting Georgia Tech’s strengths in both technology and policy.
“This class brings that home,” he said.
He later told students that enormous opportunities are waiting for them in the space sector, whether it be military, civilian, or government spaceflight programs.
“When you graduate from here, know that you’re good enough to do whatever you want to do,” he said.
U.S. Army Lt. Col. Don Brooks, a military fellow in the Nunn School, said he felt the visit showcased Georgia Tech and the Nunn School at their best.
“It was a truly outstanding visit to illustrate how Georgia Tech is bridging the gap between technology and policy, with the Sam Nunn School at the forefront,” he said.
Nunn School “Well Equipped” to Explore Strategic Implications of Space Operations
Hannah Kitzmiller is one of the students who got to speak to Raymond. She said she left the encounter excited for the possible synergies between Georgia Tech’s engineering prowess and the Nunn School’s science and technology-focused international policy expertise.
“He seems to have a deep understanding of the importance of interdisciplinary courses at Georgia Tech, which allow students like me to work with engineering and computer science students to ensure that projects are comprehensive and mirror the types of projects and teams we will find in the workforce,” said Fitzmiller, an Alpharetta resident who is in the fifth year of the 5-year BS/MS program in international affairs.
Some of those synergies are already in evidence. The Nunn School and the Guggenheim School are already working on a graduate-level certificate in international security and aerospace systems that will equip students with a deep understanding of the design-policy trade-offs and implications of the technologies on which they are working.
“The Space Force is going to need people who understand the strategic implications of operating in a contested space environment, and this is the type of issue that Nunn School faculty and students are well-equipped to do,” Borowitz said.
The Nunn School is a unit of the Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts.