Sharpening the sword for the future.
Speech to the Air Armament Summit V Gala Dinner, Sandestin, Fla., March 13, 2003
Thank you very much. I can't tell you how pleased I am to be back here with sand in my shoes again. I'm back in the land where the sun shines most of the time. I understand that you all had a great day yesterday golfing and fishing. I wish I could have joined you. We've had so much snow in Washington that I wouldn't dare show back up in Washington and have Ellen see me with a suntan. So, I backed out of that yesterday, but I understand it was magnificent.
ChedBob (Major General Robert Chedister), with all of the reports from the panels, and all of the work we've tried to do in CONOPs and effects-based thinking, this crowd gets it. I can't tell you how appreciative I am to see us make progress toward a time where we will let a concept of operations guide the way we set requirements and guide our acquisition process. I am very pleased with what I hear from the results from this great event. It's also great to see many friendly faces out there in the crowd. Congressman Miller will join us soon. And to be in the presence of my good friends, (General) Les Lyles (Air Force Materiel Command Commander) and (General Gregory) "Speedy" Martin (U.S. Air Forces in Europe Commander), to see that we have great participants like General Bill Kirk and others who have participated in this conference to make the right thing happen. And John [Politi], what a magnificent introduction; I hope you have a copy of it so that I can send it to my mother--she might actually believe it. But I really do appreciate it. These wonderful people we have sitting in this room today are examples of why we are the greatest Air Force on the planet. It's the great leadership over time, it's the dedication to one another, and it's the belief that we are here for something greater than ourselves, over generations and generations that continue to make us the best. I couldn't be more proud to be a part of this wonderful organization.
It's also great to have participants from our sister services and from our allied partners from around the world. We know that countries never go to war by themselves. Today that's becoming more and more evident. Earlier today, I spoke at the Army War College at Carlisle [Carlisle Barracks, Pa.], then went directly to Newport (R.I.) and spoke to the Navy War College. It's been a pleasure for me to see how joint minded we are becoming throughout our military. And, what a different world it is. Just think back to the year 1989, before the fall of the wall and before the collapse of the Soviet Union and think of where we were. The forecast at that time was really fairly grim. By the turn of the century, the U.S. was to be a second rate economy. Who had ever heard of a place called Kosovo? Who would ever guess that we would be at war with Iraq? And who in the room could name two of the "-stans?" I remember back in Desert Storm, during the middle of Desert Storm, when we were so "unjoint." We had to put the Air Tasking Order, a big sheaf of computer generated paper, on an airplane and fly it out to the aircraft carrier every day, because we didn't have a way to transmit it from the shore to the aircraft carrier. Think about that. What a pitiful testimony to our ability to work together and think how far we've come.
Three years ago, I came and spoke to this group about basing our decisions on a concept of operations. I said we should be able to write down on a piece of paper how we're going to fight before we go out and start deciding what we're going to buy to fight with. And I riled against platform-centric thinking, and started talking about how we need to think about the effects first. I couldn't be more pleased to see that you have focused on that very thing. We have some tangible examples of how this sort of thinking has helped us out, even though we are still working hard to get this kind of thinking going. We have developed several sets of concepts of operations, so far, and they work very well for us. In the Global Strike Concept of Operations, we've evolved the F-22 into the F/A-22. We've begun to talk more about the air-to-ground portion of the F/A-22 than the air superiority portion. It has led us to believe in the future of the Small Diameter Bomb (SDB) on board the F/A-22. We understand what it really brings to the fight as we work with the Army to develop the Army concept of operations, which calls for units deep in enemy territory. We all must realize that if we're going to keep options open for C-17s to penetrate deep and resupply those units or for airplanes to penetrate deep to put down bombs for soldiers on the ground, the only thing we have to do that is the F/A-22 with SDBs. The whole notion of the Global Strike Concept of Operations depends on stealth, standoff, and precision. It's our forte, and the people here do a lot to make that happen.
We're also working on a concept of operations for Space and C41SR. I deliberately named it Space and C41SR to demonstrate what an ugly conglomeration of letters go into making up that name. We will be so appalled by the very name, that we finally figure out what that combination of things really does, and we will start calling it whatever that is. But right now, we're in the process of having to deal with the different stove-pipes that insist that their initial be in the name; C4-computer, command and control, communications, ISR--intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance. One of these days, we're going to figure out that if we cut across those stovepipes, we're going to have a magnificent capability where the sum of the wisdom of all of our platforms ends up with a cursor over the target. And, with a cursor over the target and a precise location, we can either kill the target, we can save the target, as we do in humanitarian operations, or we can further study the target, as we do when we track things to gather further intelligence. Until that time, we're going to have to live with tribal representatives sitting behind tribal workstations.
We sit in the Air and Space Operations Center all of the time. You watch a tribal representative sitting behind his or her tribal workstation interpreting tribal hieroglyphics, and then they stand up and walk three stations down and have an analog conversation with another tribal member who then reenters all that data into his or her tribal workstation to go out and deprocess. If you let the machines talk together, we can do it in nanoseconds. When I stand before a group of our friends in the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), and I talk about machine-to-machine level conversations between NRO satellites and airborne manned or unmanned platforms, half the audience blanches white and faints at the very thought of NRO data coming down to anything other than a tribal representative at a work station. We're better than that in this day and age, and we're going to work on that. Nobody wants to work it any harder than Mr. Peter Teets, the director of the NRO and Undersecretary of the Air Force.
In the Global Mobility Concept of Operations, we are going to crank up a thing we call Eagle Flag. Eagle Flag will be the parallel to the Red Flag operation. In Red Flag, all the bombers and the fighters and the ISR aircraft go out and practice the kinetic side of warfare. In Eagle Flag, we're going to go up to McGuire AFB (N.J.) and practice the mission support side of warfare--running of a tent city and all of the things that go into bedding down a force at a distant location. In the current conflict, we are opening about 37 bases. Twenty-seven of those will be open by the USAF. Not all of those bases will actually have people on them, so mission support becomes a very big deal--one that we must pay attention to. And also, when you think through the Global Mobility Concept of Operations, it opens us up to things we don't do very well. If you're going to be supporting Army forces deep behind enemy lines, you have to develop a concept for precision airdrop, where you're resupplying these troops behind enemy lines with GPS-guided para-drop capability.
The Homeland Security Concept of Operations also has some new concepts that we haven't thought about. Imagine the concept of a hovering UAV that has a very precise sniper-like capability on it. In a scenario where you are trying to rout out a group of terrorists, you'd be able to hover around and employ sniper weapons in a very discreet way.
The Global Response Concept of Operations describes how we respond rapidly to terrorism around the world or other contingency operations. It leads us to the conclusion that we need a Predator system already packed up and ready to go. Ready to deploy around the world to do ISR or target-guide weapons anywhere in the world on short notice. This is where CONOPs lead us. The vision that we've all read about in the newspaper with a young sergeant on the ground in Afghanistan with the laptop computer. He's riding a horse with a wooden saddle, a laptop computer, and a laser tripod. They stop and set up the tripod, and designate the enemy position across on the next ridge line, and data burst that data up to the B-52, and the B-52 lays down a string of bombs and takes out a whole bunch of bad guys. Think about it. The horse comes from 18th century warfare, and the B-52 is built by Curtis LeMay to fly into the heart of the Soviet Union and drop nuclear weapons. Old Curt would be rolling over in his grave at the thought, but that's what it's doing. The bomber is older than the kid and the horse added together. And these kids figure out how to put this stuff together and to improvise to deal with a problem that sits in front of them. And it's a marvelous thing to watch.
Every story that somebody will tell you about transformation has the Predator UAV involved. The Predator UAV is the size of a Cessna 152, it has a snowmobile motor in the back, it's pretty fragile, and it is not very high tech. But it has the great advantage of being able to stay airborne for 24 hours. And it can take TV pictures and stream them back to people who care in daytime or at nighttime. It doesn't go very fast--70 knots. We like to say if there's 70 knots of wind, you can go or come back, but you can't do both. To make it as good as it can be, we had to overcome the tyranny of how we have developed and taught our acquisition community. Our acquisition community is full of wonderful people who want to do the right thing. We've just seen it over the last few days here, with the mother of all bombs, and we've seen it at other times as well.
One of those examples was when we were over in Kosovo. The Predator UAV was up there, able to see targets on the ground and beam them back to distant places. It would see the target, but it had no way to relay the information to the strike aircraft that was 500 feet above it. And, you'd have this frustrating scenario where the Predator would be looking through this soda straw--highly magnified picture of the tank between the two red roof buildings--and try to describe it to the A-10 above it. So here's the Predator pilot trying to describe to the A-10 pilot where the target is, "Sir, it's the tank between the two red roof buildings." He's looking through this highly magnified picture, here's the A-10 pilot 500 feet above him and the A-10 pilot sees 20 villages, all of them with red roof buildings. The Predator pilot says, "Sir, there's a tree line beside the house." Well they've all got a tree line beside them. "There's a road running right next to them." They've all got a road. Thirty minutes later, you might be in the same zip code, but you still don't have your eyeballs on the target. This is the same time that I'm the commander of USAFE. I said, let's go back right now and put a laser designator on the Predator so that the Predator can be a laser spot on the ground for the A-10.
We come back to our acquisition community, and these great people who know how to do these things worked day and night for two weeks. They put this designator on the Predator and it works. You can designate for someone else to drop the bomb or you can put the laser spot down there to put the target within the view of the pilot. A magnificent thing to do. Then, I come back and I'm the Commander of Air Combat Command at Langley AFB in Virginia, and now I'm responsible for all of these requirements. I come back and I ask, How are we doing with the laser on the Predator? "Oh sir, we took that off." And why did we take that off? "Well sir, it's not in the program." I said, I have an idea. Let's put it back in the program, and while we're at it, let's put a Hellfire on that thing and see if we can kill something with it. And at my first briefing they said, "Sir, this is very high risk, it's going to take five years and 15 million dollars." I said, Let me tell you what. I'll assume the risk, here's three million dollars, you've got three months, now go do it. And they said, "Oh, you'll assume the risk, everything is green, let's go do it." And of course they did it. And, they did it in faster time than that. Now, we had a few problems. We had to go through some new start legislation, and we had to work the State Department's definition of a cruise missile. It did take us a little bit longer, but the acquisition guys went out and made it happen.
Now look what we've done with the Predator. The Predator with the Hellfire was up on Roberts' Ridge and saved a bunch of lives. The Predator, with its video streaming into the AC-130, can actually scout for the AC-130. When the AC-130 gunship arrives on station, it's ready to go to work. The Predator, working with the sergeant on the ground, gets the data up to the B52. It's a success story all the way around. And what is it? It's a little Cessna 152 with a snowmobile engine in the back. And it does great work because of what the people here and other places in our acquisition community have done to make it great. Our challenge is to take those weapons and make them smaller, lighter, more lethal, and more precise. We have places that we have to focus on, because we don't do them well, yet. We still don't deal with the problem of moving targets in weather very well. We've got to work on that problem. We don't deal with the problem of concealed and camouflaged targets very well. It's not just a sensor problem, it's the marriage of the sensor and the weapons, which you all have addressed absolutely superbly here. It's the marriage of the two that's going solve that challenge.
We still don't have the hard and deeply buried targets problem solved. People are after me all the time, "Why don't you buy more B-2 bombers?" And the answer is I don't want to buy 1970s technology; and I don't want to presume what the next generation of bombers will be. I don't want to presume that it's manned and I don't presume that it flies in the air. It may fly through air or in space, but what it does have to do for us is get to the hard and deeply buried target problem. We've got to look into non-explosive effects, where we deal with the radar site that's parked beside the Babylonian ruin, or in the case we had in Kosovo and Serbia, of the MIG-23 parked under the tail of a Boeing 727 at the international airport. I can't tell you how bad I wanted to take a concrete filled, laser-guided bomb and pluck that little thing from underneath that 727, but I figured God would punish me if I showed that kind of arrogance. But we need to be able to deal with that kind of problem. We need to think of things that are lighter and smaller, so that we can make the next generation of gunships stealthier. And imagine an unmanned trio of aircraft that you put up over a target, so that you have constant station keeping from three positions around the target with a highly light and lethal weapon. We've looked at liquid propelled bullets, with muzzle velocities of 8,000 or 9,000 feet per second, and other options that we need to keep pressing to be able to get to that kind of a capability. And as I said, looking at the old concept of a sniper rifle inside of a hovering UAV gives you many possibilities in terrorist scenarios that you might not have otherwise.
We also have to be careful of solutions that are looking for a problem. That's why it is so important to have a concept of operations that guides you toward the mission that you're trying to achieve, rather than going out and writing concepts of operations (CONOPS) for each individual weapon. That's the problem we had before. Each weapon we developed had a concept of operations. You could describe with great elegance how it was going to fit into some scenario. The problem was that scenario was probably never going to happen. So then you start with a concept of operations, and something comes along, you fit it into that concept of operations, and if it gives you leverage that makes things better. We've got to be very careful about that. Let me use the example of the UCAV--the unmanned combat aerial vehicle. This is the thing that is supposed to replace the fighter aircraft. And the concept of the UCAV is a great one, and the technology demonstrations that we're doing out there are absolutely superb. What we have to be careful of is to make sure that the vehicle that we buy is one that we would buy if it had a man in it. And the vehicle that's being proposed right now is a vehicle that is certainly performing very well, but, except for the novelty of not having a person in it, we wouldn't even be thinking about buying that vehicle. And our challenge back to the system is to take advantage of all the research we've done, but let's go buy the vehicle that makes sense. The great thing about unmanned vehicles is, as I've said before, their persistence. They can stay airborne for long periods of time in ways that human beings cannot. If you want to combine that persistence with a stealthy platform, then the stealthy platforms are not very aerodynamically smooth and they don't stay airborne very long. So to get persistence, you've got to be able to air refuel them. In order to get the marginal investment on the return for air refueling them, they better carry enough weapons to make it worth your while, because you're no longer buying a razor blade, you're buying a Norelco. These things are not cheap anymore. And we have to think this through to make sure that we got it right, before we take all the judgment out of that airplane that comes with a pilot, and replace it with a concept that says, "I'm going to match my software against your software." We've got to be very careful about that.
Finally, let me take a minute to talk about our great people. You know, you look at these youngsters that are out there today, and you think of all the great ideas we get from the field. All the great youngsters we have working right here in these labs and in other places, the ones that are flying our airplanes on the operational side, and you put them together and you look at what they figure out. That's why I'm so anxious to get the F/A-22 out of the development stage and into the hands of the captains that could, because 10 minutes after we do that, that airplane is going to be three times better than anybody ever imagined. It's because of the great operators we have out there in concert with the great acquisition and development community that we have.
One of the favorite things that I do is travel down to Lackland AFB (Texas). When I get a little bit down in the dumps, I go to Lackland AFB on a Friday. Every Friday in the US. Air Force we bring 1,000 new airmen into our Air Force. And it's a marvelous thing to see. You go down there, and you watch these newly minted airmen come by in the parade, and they're just as proud as they can be. But the fun thing to do is just sit off in the shadows, and watch as the newly minted airmen come into contact with their parents, whom they haven't seen in several weeks. And if you look hard enough, every time you see the same scene. The newly minted airman standing in front of his or her mother or dad saying, "Yes mom, it is me." The dad's standing back saying, "That ain't my kid; not the kid I brought. This kid is standing up straight and saying ma'am and sir. The kid I brought looks like he fell down the stairs with his tackle box in his hand, with a pierced lip, a pierced ear, and a pierced nose." But you know, it is his kid. And you go around and shake hands with these kids and it makes you feel good about what we do for our American youth, because they'll tell you, "You know sir, this is the first time anybody has ever told me that I did something worthwhile. This is the first time I've ever felt proud of myself in accomplishing something." Or in the worst case, "Sir, I lived down in the worst part of the city and I was going nowhere, and somebody pointed me toward the Air Force and it's probably saved my life." And, we're surrounded by these kids.
I was off not long ago at one of our bases in Southwest Asia and here's this Red Horse engineer captain. It looked like he could bench press a caterpillar tractor, and he's building a runway. Now a runway is a major operation. Anybody in the construction business will tell you, it's a major operation. Not only is this kid building a runway, but the runway is sitting on top of a lava bed that holds water and they have to pump out tens of thousands of gallons of water constantly that accumulates to make this thing work. And this captain comes up to me, and he's got his chief master sergeant behind him, and they come up and salute and he says, "Sir, this is my runway." Captain, there's no doubt in my mind. "Sir, they think they're going to send me home in a couple of weeks and I want you to know sir, I'm not leaving here until I finish this runway. This is my runway." And the chief says, "This is my runway too." I said, You guys can stay as long as you want.
I was at Incirlik Air Base in Turkey, and we have a big munitions storage area there, and I'm going up to the main guard shack and there's a master sergeant and a technical sergeant standing there. The master sergeant is the sergeant of the Guard, and he's making his rounds. I walk up and salute him and say, Where are you guys from? Expecting to hear Eglin AFB, or Tyndall AFB, or Langley AFB, or some active duty base. He says, "Sir, I'm in the National Guard, and I'm from Little Rock Arkansas." I said, Good for you. He says, "I'm the Sheriff of Little Rock." I said, You mean, the sheriff of Little Rock? He said, "Yeah." I said, You took a pay cut to be here, didn't you? He said, "You bet I did." I turned to the technical sergeant and said, Where are you from? He said, "1 work for him." I said, Who is guarding Little Rock?
Right here at Eglin AFB--I apologize because I know I've told this story to this crowd before, but it's one of my favorite stories--we're doing an ORI in the 33rd Fighter Wing, right here at Eglin AFB, and we've got F-15s, and they're brand new at the time. We've already blown away the ORI team. I mean we generated 71 out of 72 airplanes. It's a full hour before our generation time is up, we've already got an Outstanding in the bag, and it's just a marvelous thing to see. We're sitting around with our chemical suits on in the command post and I'm sitting back feeling pretty cocky saying, Well, you know, we just ought to go ahead and knock this thing off. We've already got the gold medal. And the Chief of Maintenance comes in and says, "Sir, don't you do that." He says, "Sir, you've got to come out here and see what I'm seeing." So we get in the car and we go out there on the flight line, and the 72nd F-15 that we did not generate has this young staff sergeant crew chief, and his airplane had an engine write-up on it. In order to clear the write-up, they had to tow that airplane over to the test stand and run the engine. And they had hooked this tow bar and this tug up to it, and they were on their way over there, and the tug broke down. They disconnected the tow bar, and they were pushing this F-15 over toward the test stand. So we drive up in the car and the Vice Commander and the Chief of Maintenance and I jump out of the car, and we start pushing too and people are piling on. Where are we taking this thing? "Hell, I don't know, we're just pushing. I know if you push it fast enough it will take off, maybe that's what we're trying to do." And this crew chief is frantic; he is not going to have his airplane be the only one out of 72 that's not generated on that day. And we take it over there, and people are pouring out of buildings, and word is spreading by word of mouth, and we get that thing hooked up, and with a few minutes left to go, they sign off the forms. By that time, there are 5,000 people standing around out there. And a cheer goes up--half of them don't even know what they're cheering about. It was a marvelous thing. We're surrounded by these people all over the place.
I'm out at Nellis AFB (Nev.) as the Wing Commander in the late '80s. I get this call from this guy downtown that says, "You know, we're getting big time now into the NASCAR business and into the racing business, and you know we're trying to find ways to fire our people up. We understand you guys have some good motivational techniques there in the Air Force and we would like to come out on your flight line and see how you do it." They're about to build that big speedway out there in Las Vegas. So this guy brings all of these board members and they come in from General Motors and Chevrolet Motor division. There were about four or five of them. So we put on a static display out there for them, and we just line the airplanes up, and these guys go out there and they're talking again. There's an F-15 with one of the young crew chiefs there and this guy who's heading up the delegation says, "Sergeant, is this airplane ready to fly?" And he says, "No sir, it's not actually." And he opens up the radome and says, "Sir, the power supply went out and I took it over here to Sergeant Smith in the Component Repair Squadron here about 10 this morning. It will be ready by 2 this afternoon. I'll put it back in here and it will be ready to fly tonight." And I thought this guy was going to cry. He says, "You mean to tell me you personally took it to the guy who's going to fix it?" "Oh, yes sir, Technical Sergeant Smith over in the CRS says it'll be ready by 1400. If it's not, I'm going to go kick his butt." And he calls his buddy over and he says, "Guys, come over here and tell the story." And the young sergeant says, "Sir, I don't know what the big deal is." And he says, "Well, how much do they pay you?" And he says, "Not much." "Well than why do you do this?" And the sergeant said, "Because that's my name on the side of the airplane." And I'm sitting around like a proud Wing Commander and I said, They're all over the place. We've got them everywhere.
You know I went around passing out medals for what some of these great kids did in Afghanistan. And I went to my third ceremony before I presented a medal to anyone who was still alive. The first one we presented, the Secretary of the Air Force and I went down to Kirtland AFB (n.. We presented a medal to the widow of Senior Airman Jason Cunningham. Senior Airman Cunningham was 24 years old. He was on a CH-47 helicopter with a bunch of Army Rangers and two combat controllers and they take their helicopter to Roberts' Ridge. As they were landing, their helicopter gets shot down and they are surrounded by enemy taking fire from 360 degrees. So they've got wounded from the helicopter crash, and they've got wounded from fire, and they're taking casualties minute by minute. Cunningham drags them out and gets them away from the helicopter, because he's afraid it's going to blow up, and gets them 50 meters or so out there away from the helicopter. He gives them as much coverage as he possibly can. The two combat controllers start trying to get some close air support in there to pull them out, and over the time that they were trying to work their problem, Senior Airman Cunningham is badly wounded. So, at that medal ceremony were the Army guys that were on that helicopter with him. As 1 stood in a circle of these guys, they told me that Cunningham knew he wasn't going to live, and that as he was dying, he was explaining to them how to take care of the rest of the people, so that they would make it. This kid was on his very first combat mission. And I told the audience that day, 1 have nearly 1,500 hours of combat time and in all that time put together, I was never able to show any more courage or valor than Senior Airman Cunningham did on his very first combat mission. We gave the Air Force Cross to his widow, Theresa, 23 years old. They have two small daughters. They were stationed at Moody AFB, Ga., and Theresa is enrolled in Valdosta State College right there in Valdosta, Ga. She's in ROTC and she's going to come into the Air Force this summer. This is a great American family.
I love to tell that story to my World War II audiences that I speak to all of the time, because they are indeed our "Greatest Generation." But, I tell them that so that they will have confidence that in this generation, there are those who serve who are just as dedicated and patriotic and committed as any generation that has ever served. And the best example I've ever seen is our young Senior Airman Cunningham. So, as we go forward from tonight, and we out-brief tomorrow, and we press ourselves toward the task of developing the weapons of the future, let's do it for Senior Airman Cunningham.
May God Bless each and every one of you and God Bless the United States of America. Thank you all very much.