Global missions ... meeting the challenge.
Remarks at the Von Braun Center, Huntsville, Ala., Aug. 15, 2006
Thank you Senator (Jeff) Sessions (United States Senator from Alabama). It's an honor to be introduced by a great American and a tireless supporter of our Armed Forces and a pleasure for me to be down here at the invitation of my good friend (Army) Gen. Larry Dodgen (Commander, U.S. Space and Missile Defense Command and U.S. Army Forces Strategic Command).
I'm always happy to return to the home of the Marshall Space Flight Center. I owe a lot of thanks to the professionals at Marshall.
I'm really excited about getting a chance to share a few thoughts with you. Your theme, "Global Missions ... Meeting the Challenge," plays right to the strengths and challenges we have in Air Force Space Command.
In two weeks we'll celebrate our 24th birthday as an Air Force major command and we'll also kick off a year long celebration leading up to our silver anniversary.
Since Sept. 1, 1982, Air Force Space Command has been in the fight, on a global scale. For 24 straight years we've been providing space capabilities to the nation and our allies. For 24 straight years we've stood vigilant.
Today and every day, with the exception of our Space Launch Wings, our units are chopped to the combatant commander 24/7, 365 days a year. We've stood vigilant in times of peace and in times of war. And that is critically important because if our nation's space and missile forces are caught off guard, there may not be a second chance ... and we keep that in mind every day.
For nearly 50 years, and even before Air Force Space Command existed, our Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) warriors brought that same spirit to work round the clock. And they're still doing it today.
Strategic deterrence is our first line of defense. And I'm proud to report the professionals stationed north of 1-80 (8,600 plus military and some 1,400 plus civilians) are as strong as ever.
In the last year alone they performed 36,000 plus man-days of nuclear alert duty, conducted 54,000 plus man-days of missile maintenance and drove 18 million miles. As a former--or as my daughters would say--old astronaut, I can appreciate that kind of number because that's more than 37 round trips to the moon!
Those same dedicated ICBM professionals conducted 387 munitions convoys, moving nuclear weapons without incident over some of the most treacherous terrain in the country. They executed 40 critical, time-sensitive targeting procedures, as well as 1,450 routine targeting procedures. Or maybe I should say they made it look routine, because I assure you there is nothing routine about retargeting a nuclear warhead. And to posture us for the future they carried out more than 1,000 major weapon system modifications.
Now, why do I mention all this? Because our land-based strategic deterrent is critical to our new triad. As you know, it's comprised of offensive capabilities, defensive capabilities and a responsive defense infrastructure, all enabled by persistent global command and control (C2), intelligence and agile planning systems.
That's a mouthful. But when you read between the lines you see this new triad has significantly expanded Air Force Space Command's role. Not only does it require us to maintain our nuclear ICBM and missile warning capability to support the offense point of this triangle, but our missile warning, C2 and planning systems are further tasked to support the defensive point of the triad that missile defense systems provide.
At Air Force Space Command, we take our stewardship of these key elements of the new triad very seriously. And we should, because it's this triad construct that comprises our primary defense against attack. And let me be clear and reiterate a point that people in this audience understand all too well. The United States still has enemies that must be deterred. More and more however, that deterrence needs to be tailored. Our charge is to provide the president with a wider, more flexible range of options.
A prompt, precise conventional global strike capability is one such alternative. I think Senator Sessions' comments on Prompt Global Strike (PGS) were right on the mark. PGS should be a quick reaction capability that would enable us to hold time sensitive targets at risk. I think Air Force Space Command has an important role in this construct.
We're exploring the concept of operations, technologies and programatics to support PGS. All are necessary steps to answer the question of whether or not it makes sense to have a land-based system that can deliver this capability.
We have some experience in operating land-based ICBMs that can deliver nuclear capability in less than one hour. Now we're looking at our role in the conventional arena. Since 1962, we've launched 795 missiles from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., down range to the Kwajalein Atoll, and as far as I can tell, with very little, if any, international uproar.
There may also be effective non-kinetic means of holding adversaries at risk. We as a nation must pursue these as well.
Honestly, I can't tell you what courses of action this president or a future president will need. But what I can tell you is when we're asked to provide options we need viable alternatives to lay on the table.
Planning systems have an equally important role as highlighted in the new triad. We need these systems to be able to operate and strike, offensively and defensively, inside the adversary's decision cycle. Terrorists aren't deterred by the threat of a tardy response ... regardless of the speed of our weapons. They must know we possess the capability to strike them at any time, at any place and with whatever degree of force our national leaders choose.
The key to achieving that kind of flexibility is the asymmetric advantage our nation has in space. An advantage we absolutely must maintain. Clearly, our adversaries know about this asymmetric advantage and they would be foolish not to be thinking of methods to deny us that advantage. And they are not fools. They know how much we rely on space capabilities and in the future they'll strike at these capabilities to level the playing field. For over three decades our adversaries have watched us provide an uninterrupted space-based early warning capability.
This same capability, provided by the Defense Support Program (DSP) gave us situational awareness during North Korea's recent missile tests. That was some 4th of July holiday we had this year! In my mind, it just reinforces the significance of that day; that we must always be vigilant to those who might dare attack our freedoms.
Well, they can pick any day they want to rattle their saber, they won't catch this nation, this Air Force, or our United States Army by surprise! Yes, DSP and the space professionals at the 460th Space Wing at Buckley AFB, Colo., were on duty and provided the situational awareness to quickly inform the president and the Japanese government.
But DSP is just the tip of the iceberg. Since the first Gulf War, our adversaries have also witnessed first hand the asymmetric advantage of the Global Positioning System (GPS), which is critical to space and missile defense, every part of the battlefield and billions upon billions of dollars in global commerce.
How many people in here use or benefit from GPS every minute of the day? When GPS was designed, we never envisioned a civil application for it. Nobody foresaw GPS use in farm tractors, minivans or commercial planes. Over the years, smart people have figured out ways to make the GPS signal increasingly accurate. One of the primary ways that's done is by broadcasting corrections to the navigation signal straight to receivers on the ground or in an airplane. You may be surprised to know those GPS corrections are transmitted from a piggyback payload, sitting on a commercial satellite more than 13,000 miles higher up in space than the GPS constellation.
Now why did I go into this long explanation on GPS? Because I think it illustrates the complexity of the task we have in defending the space domain.
We in the military are often accused of being alarmists--especially in terms of the threats to our space systems. But if you use GPS as an example, think you'll see we are justified in our concerns.
Another example is our reliance on communication satellites. You've all seen estimates on our use of commercial satellite communications for military operations. Some are as high as 80 percent of all of our communications. Getting bandwidth to the battlefield and maintaining that capability is critical to the way we fight today and will be ever more critical tomorrow.
Once again ... our adversaries know this too. We have a duty to secure the entire space domain. Not just for our own military, but for our allies and for the benefit of the free world. And step one in securing that domain is to ensure we understand what is up there. Our ability to defend the asymmetric advantage we enjoy depends first and foremost on our ability to gain situational awareness in the operating domain of space.
We've done a good job so far cataloging what is up there, but the time has come to take the next step. The next step in situational awareness and the next step in command and control.
The standup of the Joint Space Operations Center at Vandenberg AFB last year was a good start, but it was only our first step.
My vision is straightforward. I want Maj. Gen. William Shelton (Commander, Joint Functional Component Command for Space and Global Strike) to be able to tell the combatant commander, General James Cartwright (Commander, U.S. Strategic Command) the capabilities and owner's intentions of any new object put into space.
And I want to do it in one revolution, so we're in position to take action before an adversary can cripple us. And I want to know if they maneuver, and if they calve a micro-satellite and if they are a threat to any of our systems.
In the past, and even today, our systems are set up to answer the critical question, "Is that a space launch or a ballistic launch?" If it's a space launch, we relax. I say those days are over. If it's a space launch, we can't afford to relax.
The next step we must take is to upgrade the computer systems we use to track and catalog things in space. The systems we now have were first fielded 1991 ... they need to be upgraded.
And the new system needs to be net enabled and able to work with our modern computing capabilities that can present information to our warfighters at the speed of light, when and where they need it.
I know as soon as I say that, the question is going to come up, "Well, where do we get the money?" Truth be told, the budget is tight and it's only going to get tighter in the years to come. However, we in the military and defense industry have to realize we're responsible for many of the challenges we face. The U.S.
Government Accountability Office tells us, $12 billion less will be available in the next five years because of cost growth in programs.
We have to take steps to improve the way we acquire space systems ... and we are.
Dr. Ron Sega, the Undersecretary of the Air Force, and Lt. Gen. Mike Hamel at the Space and Missile Systems Center have us on track with their "Back to Basics" and block approach to space acquisition.
* As a team we remain committed to dramatically reducing the time to bring technology to the warfighter.
* We remain committed to mitigating risk across the entire space portfolio.
* As Dr. Sega likes to call it, our "crawl before you walk" and "walk before you run" strategy.
* In the past, over-optimistic estimates of technology maturity and system complexity and the lack of required management reserve have led to schedule slips and cost increases.
* Our evolutionary block development approach will enable us to gradually introduce technology and then promote those capabilities into demonstrations and then ultimately operational programs.
* This is not new. It's a tried and true recipe for success.
* All you have to do is take a look at how GPS has evolved from the launch of the first NavStar satellite.
* Or for that matter, the increased capability from the first DSP warning satellite to the capability of the constellation currently on-orbit.
* We know how to do this, if we follow the recipe.
I have a saying I tell our team back at space command and that is, in our business, "Excellence is the minimum standard." And excellence is absolutely achievable.
In the late 1990s we saw $11 billion in space capabilities go up in smoke with successive launch failures. We were, this is no exaggeration, on the verge of collapse in the space business.
Today we stand at 45 launches in a row and we're 14 for 14 with our new Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle. We got to 45 in a row by following a simple and basic recipe--Just like Dr. Sega's "back to basics" strategy. We got "back to basics" in the launch business. And we succeeded, just like we will do today in the acquisition arena.
Challenges? Sure, we've got them, but I'm confident we are going to be successful. As my daughters like to remind me, there's only one thing in this world that's impossible: Putting a glove on over a mitten.
As I think about Space and Missile Defense and all of the efforts we are working on together, one important lesson comes to mind. And that's how interconnected and interdependent we are.
Sure, as your theme suggests, there are "Global Missions" challenging us; however, the solution lies in our ability to work together. From our nation's Strategic Deterrent Force, to missile warning, to ballistic missile defense, to communications and navigation systems, as well as dynamic C2 and robust situational awareness.
Everything we do is about one thing, protecting the United States of America. This is a tough business, but if we wake up every day and ask our selves, "What's best for America?" I know we'll come up with the right answers. Answers beyond any particular stovepipe or organizational loyalties. Answers that make us safer as a nation.
Clearly, we operate in an arena where we must get results. Rest assured though, if you need results in space there's a place you can turn to for answers ... Air Force Space Command. And if we're not at the top of your Rolodex, I want to know about it and know what we can do to get there. If there's a question we can't answer, we're going to find somebody who can and then we're going back to school to study up on what we didn't know. Because the bottom line is our current and future adversaries are watching us and we need to perform. Our adversaries know all about our asymmetric advantages and the day we let our guard down is the day they'll try and take them away.
However, it helps me sleep well at night knowing people like all of you are on the job. I can't thank you enough for the job you do for our nation.
So let me close by taking this opportunity to thank each of you and wish you good luck and God speed.
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|Author:||Chilton, Kevin P.|
|Publication:||Air Force Speeches|
|Date:||Aug 15, 2006|
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