Two types of space warfare.
I think it is very appropriate that you've expanded the scope of your conference from space operations to space warfare. I'll just say, walking in here this evening you can feel the energy of the group and what a terrific day you all must have had. Boy, is that good news for our overall military efforts and our intelligence collection efforts.
I must say that I have taken some heat from Congress for a particular item, a line item Air Force Space Command has budgeted. As you know, Space Command's mission is organize, train, equip, and provide space forces for the combatant commanders, but Congress just could not understand how buying several hundred DVD copies of "Star Wars" and "Battlestar Galactica" fit into the training program. I tried real hard to defend it, but in the end they reduced the request down to a Blockbuster Gift Card and a recording of H.G. Wells' radio broadcast of 'War of the Worlds."
That's okay, though, because we won't find out about space warfare by looking at a typical Hollywood vision of it. The real world is much stranger and much more complex than they can portray.
Now, space warfare can mean different things to different people. The popular Hollywood view is of highly unlikely space ships flitting around and shooting at each other. Never mind the fact that somehow we hear the explosions through the vacuum of space, much less the problem of all that orbital debris--but then, they don't care much about orbital debris because they're not much concerned about orbits in the first place. If we had spaceships that could fly around like that, we wouldn't have to be concerned with orbits either. But there we go, trying to understand Hollywood in terms of reality.
Real world space warfare, the kind we're involved in right now, uses space systems to enable and enhance terrestrial fighting. That's not to say that the future of space warfare won't go farther than that. In my view, it surely will.
Space warfare can be compartmented into two types--the kind we're fighting now, and the kind we may find ourselves fighting in the future. We do the first type of space warfare very, very well, but we don't always think of it as space warfare.
Think of how air power was first used--for observation and reconnaissance, things like spying on enemy formations for targeting by artillery. Many of our space systems perform those kinds of functions today.
With air power, sighting the enemy soon progressed to strafing and bombing them, and air power grew from a force enhancer to a force deliverer. It developed into a true military arm with the power to deliver effects directly to the battlefield. In the process, airmen also progressed to using aircraft against other aircraft--trying to shoot down the spotters and the bombers. And all during these formative years, theorists and practitioners thought a lot about how to use air power more effectively.
Now, we haven't reached the point of strafing and bombing from space. Nonetheless, we are thinking about those possibilities, which is why I really do applaud you for convening this symposium. We need to think long and hard about space warfare and how to use space power most efficiently. And perhaps even more importantly, we need to develop a strategy for how we move policy forward through the Department of Defense, through the Office of Management and Budget, through the National Security Council, and of course the President and the Congress. Space policy needs to be moved forward--I'll come back a little later in my remarks and say a few more words about this.
I know that you already completed one day of your symposium, and let me try and give you something to think about tonight with respect to space warfare. It's an observation about two similar events that happened nearly 39 years apart.
On this very day in 1965, Air Force pilot Joe Engle flew NASA's X-15 to an altitude of over 85 kilometers, a little over 53 miles. It was his 14th flight in an X-15 and the first time he flew high enough to earn U.S. astronaut wings. In those days the Air Force had great plans for manned space, but was beginning to see them die one by one. The X-20 Dyna-Soar program, the "dynamic soaring" space plane the Air Force wanted to use, had already been cancelled. MOL, the Manned Orbiting Laboratory, and NERVA, the Nuclear Engine for Rocket Vehicle Applications, would be canceled a few years later.
More recently, a week ago yesterday in fact, private pilot Mike Melvill flew Burt Rutan's "SpaceShipOne" to an altitude of just over 100 kilometers: 62 miles, the internationally recognized edge of space. It was his ninth flight in SpaceShipOne, and only the second time he had fired the rocket engine. He earned a set of commercial astronaut wings from the Department of Transportation. That's a remarkable achievement for a private concern that's invested about $20 million, especially considering that during the climb one of the flight control systems failed. Now we're waiting to see if they will win the $10 million X-prize by flying to space, returning safely, and doing it again within two weeks.
So what does that have to do with space warfare?
Well, I think the successful flight of SpaceShipOne is the latest proof of concept for an idea that's been around for nearly as long as anyone has thought about putting things in orbit. In the 60s it was an X-15 carried by a B-52. Today it's a specially designed airframe, carried by another aircraft designed and built for that specific purpose. The principle's the same: a rocket is carried aloft by another plane, launched into space, and both returned to earth after the mission. That's the obvious connection, but just as Hollywood visions of space warfare aren't the most relevant, it's not the most important one.
You see, SpaceShipOne is designed only to go up and come down. It doesn't actually go into orbit and it can't put anything else into orbit, because it can't achieve orbital velocity. Its maximum speed is in the neighborhood of 2500 miles an hour--one-seventh of the 17,500 miles an hour required to sustain a 100-mile earth orbit.
A less obvious connection between SpaceShipOne and the subject of space warfare--but one that perhaps is more fundamental--is the fact that this is another attempt to revolutionize space commerce. Until now, space commerce, as with space support for military actions, has involved delivering services from space: communications, remote sensing, and so forth. The X-Prize competitors and other entrepreneurs hope to expand space commerce to include space tours--short, affordable rides in space. They hope to initiate a surge of new interest in space. If they succeed, and in the process spark more investment in the space business, who knows what other ventures will follow? Space may begin to generate even more wealth for investors and countries. That's important, because historically battles between people have been--or at least have begun as--battles over wealth.
Mankind fights over the things we value. You can take that in any direction you like, but we only fight for those things that we consider valuable. Freedom, land, love, money, power, or pride, if we value it enough we will fight to obtain it or keep it. As space becomes more valuable to more people, the risk of conflict over it increases and sets the stage for future space warfare.
Thankfully, we're not quite there yet.
It is perfectly fitting that we start by emphasizing the use of space systems to fight terrestrial wars, because we're in a terrestrial war right now. With respect to our most recent campaigns, our nation's space capabilities were decisive in enabling both the liberation of Afghanistan from the Taliban, and the incredibly rapid and precise military action that brought freedom to Iraq Space systems will continue to play an important role in whatever battles remain to be fought.
A senior non-commissioned officer in the Space and Missile System Center tells us that, while he was deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, he had the honor of dining with the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Pete Pace. They traded coins, and when General Pace thanked him for the Los Angeles Air Force Base coin, a Marine shouted out, "L.A. Air Force Base? Where the hell is that?" Our Air Force senior NCO didn't have to say a word: General Pace himself went into a long speech on Space and Missile System Center's products and services such as the Global Positioning System (GPS). Before long the crowd of Marines were barking "OOrah!" over what our military space systems were contributing to the war.
You may have heard the Air Force Chief of Staff, General John Jumper, talk about a dust storm that happened during Operation Iraqi Freedom. The Iraqis tried to use it to conceal a major maneuver--it didn't work, for several reasons. First of all, from remote sensing satellites and from JSTARS we knew where the Iraqi forces were. Second, we forecast the storm using weather data from the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program, and guessed that they might try to use it to their advantage. So we used it to ours, and put air assets in place to watch the Iraqis. JSTARS saw the real-time ground movement and Global Hawk unmanned aerial vehicles pinpointed the precise coordinates of the enemy units. Controllers and planners relayed all of the information in a unique way: using classified network "chat rooms" over terrestrial and satellite systems. All of this added up to a successful attack on the enemy forces.
That's a great example of teamwork and innovation, enabled and enhanced by the space systems. And along with dozens of other examples, it added up to stunning results.
Yesterday, we saw the culmination of those stunning results as the coalition turned sovereignty over to the Iraq government. At the ceremony, Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi said, "Iraq will be for all the Iraqis, regardless of religion and ethnicity. All will enjoy full citizenship, a country that enjoys justice." The Iraqi people will, over the next few months, set up their own government and begin deciding what relations they will have with the rest of the world.
With this transition, other instruments of our national power will come into greater prominence. The military instrument will still be important, but the diplomatic, economic, and informational instruments will ascend. I point that out because space systems--military, civil, and commercial--also support those other instruments of power. They facilitate diplomatic communications, economic transactions, and the transfer of information--which is the lifeblood of a free society. Space systems, therefore, transcend the strategic level of war to support what is often referred to as grand strategy.
The advantages of space systems are clear--consistent, predictable, global coverage; an advantageous view of the earth from the ultimate high ground; and access to the enemy unhindered by geographic or political boundaries. Our military space systems are absolutely indispensable to national decision makers and combatant commanders, from real time, all weather satellite navigation provided by the Global Positioning System; critical linkages provided by the Defense Satellite Communication System (DSCS) and Milstar as well; around-the-clock missile warning provided by our vigilant fleet of Defense Support Program satellites; weather forecasts enabled by the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program satellites; to the superior intelligence and battlespace awareness provided by our national systems. Our modern way of warfighting depends on space superiority.
Now, I must tell you that I have some mixed feelings about the second type of space war.
The gulf between using space systems to enhance conventional warfighting, and using weapons in and from space, is huge. We already tried to bridge that gap once. In the late '50s we jumped all the way to nukes in space--and I don't mean the fact that, on this date in 1961, we launched a Navy Transit satellite with the first-ever space nuclear power supply. I mean the fact that we exploded nuclear bombs in space, and for a time we had nuclear equipped Thor missiles on alert in an anti-satellite role.
We pulled ourselves back from that precipice, but it goes to show that new technologies don't always conform to the expectations raised by previous technologies.
If you think about the development of weapons, most of them started off as tools. The stone knife must have been a tool first, even if it quickly did become a weapon. The spear and the bow were tools for hunting before they were turned against people. The first person who built a raft to cross a river didn't put a cannon on it; armed ships came much later. The same holds true for aircraft; otherwise, we wouldn't have humorous anecdotes of pilots shooting at each other with pistols and dropping bombs by hand from the cockpit.
The space systems we use now are tools. They're highly sophisticated tools. And when you consider that the on-orbit portion is only a small part of the overall system, they are very large and very vulnerable tools as well.
From this perspective, real space warfare--in which space systems are directly affected by the conflict--will, for the time being, continue to resemble the Iraqi attempt to jam our GPS signals. It won't involve armed satellites firing at each other or dropping ordnance from orbit. The attackers will use what they have on hand, which means they will use conventional means to take out the most accessible parts of the system. For the Iraqis that was the GPS signal itself, and it's a not-so-subtle irony that the jammers were taken out by GPS-aided, intertially navigated munitions.
Other potential enemies, however, won't be limited to pathetic attempts in localized areas. They will find ways to reach beyond their borders to a very vulnerable part of our space infrastructure: our ground stations. Ground stations are the obvious targets because, at the moment, other means of crippling space systems are just too difficult and too expensive.
Go back to the idea of adapting tools into weapons. You can use an antenna to jam an unfriendly spacecraft with a high-powered radio frequency signal, but that only works as long as it's in line of sight--and as soon as you do it you're no longer using your own antenna. You can even design and build a system specifically to jam your enemy's spacecraft, but you can't spend that money twice--so you better be sure that what you gain by attacking that satellite is worth what you lost by not building one of your own.
It's possible to maneuver one of our spacecraft close enough to mine that a blast of your thrusters would foul my satellite's sensors; but not only does that tactic remove your own satellite from your own use, it reduces your satellite's useful life. And if you launch a weapon into space, even if it's as simple as a smart brick to smash into your adversary's satellite, that means one less launch vehicle available to put your own useful satellite into orbit. We must assume that any potential adversary is aware of those limitations.
The ground station is the most likely target for another reason: an enemy with no space capability whatsoever can still attack a ground station. The results can range from irritating to crippling to catastrophic. Without our downlinks, our satellites can broadcast data every minute and never be heard. Without our uplinks, we can't transmit vital information to our deployed forces. Without satellite control centers, our space vehicles would gradually lose their ability to carry out their missions. For the moment, then, I believe that protecting the integrity of our ground station networks--keeping them robust, reliable and flexible--is probably the number one priority to ensure survivability of the mission.
Ensuring that our own systems survive so we can use them to our advantage, though, is only half of the equation. The other half is achieving a level of space superiority that keeps an adversary from using their space systems against us--or our allies. This issue of space control is, naturally, a controversial subject, and we need to spend time and effort thinking about it while we immediately start moving the policy ball forward.
Without a doubt, we will continue to rely on space systems and space power in any future conflicts. Our five National Security Space priorities for 2004 are intended to keep us moving forward with our vital space capabilities.
First, we must commit ourselves to Achieve Mission Success in Operations and Acquisition. To do this we must Develop and Maintain a Team of true Space Professionals. That team of space professionals needs to be made up of members of every military service, and needs to be made up of CIA people as well. Third, those professionals must be organized and equipped to Integrate Space Capabilities for National Intelligence and Warfighting Fourth, we need to Produce Innovative Solutions for the Most Challenging National Security Problems--tactical as well as technical solutions. And finally, we must Ensure Freedom of Action in Space.
One approach to achieving these priorities is to follow the Air Force model of focusing on core competencies as we work toward building the capabilities we need. The Air Force's core competencies span the entire range of Air Force operations and make a good start at core competencies for National Security Space.
The core competency of "Developing Airmen" is fundamentally similar to the priority of developing our cadre of space professionals. Using the recommendations of the Space Commission as a starting point, General Lance Lord, Commander of Air Force Space Command, has made great strides in ensuring the men and women of the National Security Space team receive the education, training and professional development necessary to form a cohesive and effective force. I might say those forces are open to members of all the services and CIA professionals as well.
The Air Force core competency of "Technology to Warfighting" is closest to the National Security Space priority of producing innovative solutions. Throughout our national space team, we are committed to fielding leading edge, high tech systems in order to provide the best possible support to our combatant commanders.
The first step in this "Technology to Warfighting" process, of course, is evaluating our current capabilities and comparing them to current and future needs. If, for example, our overall sensor network coverage is not what it should be, and other countries are beginning to see some of our shortfalls and exploit gaps in our coverage, then we must figure out how to fill those gaps. First, though, we have to know these gaps exist.
The next step after identifying the shortfalls is finding the systems or procedures to overcome them. In many cases we are already doing so, especially in preparing to replace some of our aging assets.
New sensor platforms such as Space Based Radar, the Space Based Infrared System, and the Future Imagery Architecture (being brought on-line by the National Reconnaissance Office) will provide continuing, global situational awareness that will give us clearer and more consistent views of what the enemy is doing. New communications platforms such as the Wideband Gapfiller Satellite, the Advanced Extremely High Frequency satellite system, and the Transformational Communications Architecture will distribute what's collected. Eventually we will field a National Security "internet in the sky" which will make information more readily available for command decisions and operations in the field.
To get these systems on orbit, we will continue building the Evolved Expandable Launch Vehicles. Their improved reliability and reduced cost over current launch systems will serve us well for many years. Even so, we are looking for ways to transform the delivery of space-based capabilities through programs such as Operationally Responsive Space--for more responsive, reliable and affordable spacelift--and Tactical Satellite initiatives for modular, responsive and affordable satellites.
Our National Security Space priority of integrating space capabilities for national intelligence and warfighting folds nicely into the third Air Force core competency, "Integrating Operations," which involves transitioning new technologies into practical systems that work together seamlessly to support objectives at every level of war.
We need to work space power down to the lowest level of the soldier, sailor and airman. Space operations are integrated well in the Joint Air Operations Center, but need to be integrated at every level. We must make sure that the people who need our products get them--last week's imagery, not last year's imagery. And instead of having the security issues stand in the way of our warfighters getting intelligence that was collected yesterday or last week, we need to break down those barriers--and again, work across organizational and cultural problems to make certain the available information gets to the right people at the right time.
In order to maintain the space superiority we've worked so hard to achieve, we need to resolve some other very tough issues. On the technological side, what technologies do we have that are essential to our control of space? Those countries most likely to challenge us with actual space weapons are unlikely to advertise their efforts: how well do we know what technology they have that might interfere with our control of space? What are we doing to acquire new technologies we need to improve our control of space, while denying those technologies to our enemies?
From an operational standpoint, we need to agree on what we mean by space control. Is our doctrinal definition sufficient? How well do our tactics, techniques and procedures fit into it? Have we identified any space-related "choke points" that we need to control, and figured out how to control them? Have we worked out the processes by which we would decide to attack an enemy space asset, or to employ space weapons?
This, in closing, is a great opportunity for you to help--all of us working together to develop policy solutions. With your inputs we can build a coherent strategy for advancing our space policy, and tomorrow you have some breakout sessions where you'll dig deeper into some topics that will help. One of your breakout sessions will examine the "Technology to Warfighting" approach. Others will cover the evolution of the space cadre, and the challenge of developing new operational concepts for space power. Your input can greatly help our strategy for advancing national space warfare policy.
Earlier I classified space warfare into two types: space warfare we're engaged in now, and space warfare that is likely in the future. Opinions on the second type of space warfare range from a pure sanctuary viewpoint--that is, "space should be free of all weapons for all time"--to the view that the U.S. should establish a space hegemony: that space will be weaponized, and only the United States should do it.
This broad range of opinions reflects the political reality in which we operate, and the economic reality, too: the same divergent viewpoints influence how our budgets are prioritized I must say that in my experience of testifying before Congress I've been severely questioned by certain members of Congress who are concerned about the whole field of space control, and who do have a view that space should be sanctified and no weapons ever put into space.
This is what I mean by working together to find a way to advance the policy ball: pushing forward the policy objectives of how we will achieve first-rate space situational awareness, certainly defensive counterspace and yes, lastly, offensive counterspace. That policy needs to be pushed forward, and I think it's time for us to start and weave our way through it. I think it would be a mistake to push too hard before the election, quite frankly, but I think right after the election the time is right for us to move the space policy regarding space control forward.
Formulating a space strategy that reflects such a wide spectrum of viewpoints brings me back to what we learned from Hollywood. Building our strategy will be very much like writing a script for the future of space; and just like movie producers in search of a hit, we want to appeal to the biggest possible audience. We don't want to focus so much on technology and special effects that we forget what story we're trying to tell. Special effects are nice, but we don't want our space warfare policy to be received the way the third Matrix movie was.
The story we're trying to tell is: we are approaching space warfare smartly. We can improve our chances of victory in future conflicts. In addition, we will protect ourselves from this insidious global war with terrorists by being able to penetrate their networks and being able to understand where they are and take action against them.
Thank you again for letting me spend the evening with you. I think this whole issue of space control, and space situational awareness, demands immediate attention for us to start moving the space policy ball forward. Thank you all very much.
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|Title Annotation:||Space Warfare Symposium, Air Force Association|
|Publication:||Air Force Speeches|
|Date:||Jun 29, 2004|
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