General Chilton: Thanks very much, Mike. I appreciate the introduction. It's great being here. Bob Largent, it is always a pleasure to see you. Fellow general officers, supporters of the United States Air Force and the Air Force Association. What a great gathering we've got here today.
I unfortunately wasn't able to be here last year, so it's nice to be able to come down to Florida, particularly in February in Omaha, and spend some time with you. If I break into a sweat it's because it's about an order of magnitude hotter here than it is back home.
Mike, when I'm introduced as the astronaut, there's some baggage that comes along with that. I had it brought home to roost here this past week in Omaha. I went to speak at a high school, a whole assembly gathering of high school students, and I like to do this because I feel it's part of my responsibility. This nation gave me the great opportunity to go into space and I look for opportunities to share that experience whenever I can, particularly with our youth, to try to motivate them to get into the space business, into engineering, and into science.
So I was at this high school and I finished my pitch. I opened up the floor for questions. I always say, ""Look, you can ask me anything. I'll tell you that, too. You can ask me anything you want during the Q&A. I don't care what it is. Personal, technical, I'll try my best to answer it accurately. ""
So things were going pretty well, getting some pretty good questions from these bright high school students. Then, there's always one in the crowd. A hand goes up. This gentleman says, I was wondering if you wear Depends. [Laughter]. I promised them that I would be honest, so my answer was well, at my age, maybe. [Laughter].
Again, it's great to be with you all, and to be with supporters of the United States Air Force and the Air Force Association. It seems like every time I get a job in my career, I think I've got the best job in the Air Force. It seems like an all too short a time after that I get fired and I move on to another position.
Pleasantly I find out in every experience I land in what I think is a better job. That's kind of the way I feel about my assignment to U.S. Strategic Command. I don't think the Chief's (AF Chief of Staff) here today, but thanks, Chief. Keep firing me and sending me on to better jobs. This is really an exciting time to be a part of U.S. Strategic Command. If you've had the news on lately, you'd appreciate it. We've got great missions there. I'd like to spend a little bit of time talking with you about the mission set that we have at STRATCOM, and then focus in on a couple in particular.
I've got to confess, when I arrived at STRATCOM, I was a bit overwhelmed with the number of missions this command has. Eight, they told me when I came in the door. I said I think that might be more than we can handle. Who says we've got eight missions? They said, well, that would be the President of the United States and he does that through a thing called the Unified Command Plan. Here it is, there's the signature at the bottom, and there's about four pages in that thing that tell you what you're responsible for.
I said okay, I'd better read this, and I did. I read it several times. I've got to tell you, I'm still reading it regularly because there's so much in there. We're working to maybe sharpen it up a little bit in the next revision.
What I decided, based just on my own limitations, is that I needed to somehow get my arms around these eight mission areas.
I'm a firm believer, if everything is equally important then nothing's important, so you've got to do some prioritization in life and I felt we had to do that at STRATCOM as well.
So what I first did is I noticed that there was a common thread in everything we'd been asked to do and that is that every mission we're given is global in nature. Although there may be ties to regions, there are always multiple regions so it makes sense they'd come into us. In fact I thought STRATCOM ought to be better named ""Global Command"" for all the reasons that we do so many global missions.
Then I asked myself a question. Of all the missions we have, which ones do I actually have forces assigned to me that I can give orders to, that they can give orders to, to accomplish objectives to create effects? A warfighting effect. Are there any of our eight missions that encompass that?
Another way of thinking of it is, I said to myself, on a really bad day in any one of these eight mission areas, in which phone would ring on my desk and at the other end would either be the SecDef or the President saying, ""Chilli, what are you going to do about this? We gave you the forces, we gave you the mission, what are you going to do?"" Not, "what do you think?"
So as I started thinking through the areas that we had, I found in my mind there are three of our eight mission areas in which I have forces and I can give orders. I have operational level components that have tactical level forces assigned to them, and they pretty much listen to what I say. And I would expect on a bad day in these mission areas, that the President of the United States would call me as the lead combatant commander in these areas. Those mission areas encompass space, cyberspace and strategic deterrence.
We are executing operations every day in these three mission areas. These operations are global in nature, they are agnostic to any lines drawn on a map or boundaries, whether they be national boundaries or even continental boundaries on the face of the earth. We do have forces assigned in STRATCOM in each one of these mission areas, and if my other criteria has been met, I have an operational level of war commander -- a joint functional component if you will,-- assigned in each one of these areas that will take orders from me, can do planning, intel assessment, build courses of action, and execute operations in support of the broader guidance given by the Strategic Command Commander to achieve the effects that the Secretary of Defense and the President may want us to achieve.
Those operational level command commanders are Joint Functional Component Commander (JFCC) Space. He's my Joint Air Force Component (JFAC), if you will. I've got JTF-Global Network Operations (GNO), he's my Combined Forces Network Component Commander[CFNCC]. I've got JFCC-Network Warfare (NW), my Combined Forces Land Component Commander[CFLCC], and I've got JFCC-Global Strike (GSI) and the task force that support those global strike missions and that's another component level. They all have forces, they all can plan, they can all give orders, and they can all make things happen.
These are areas that I would say that are major lines of operations for Strategic Command, and these are areas in which we operate across boundaries. As I said, boundaries we're agnostic to in these mission areas. They don't mean much to us.
But that's not all we do. We have some other key important areas that we are chartered by the UCP to accomplish and those include integrated missile defense.
In this area I don't have forces assigned. I don't have the trigger on when we fire missile defense. I don't have weapons release authority. But I've got a great team out there who's working closely with the Missile Defense Agency to make sure we give them the right requirements, assess what they're developing, build a global concept of operations (ConOps) that will address this key fundamental problem. How do you handle a missile that launches in area of responsibility (AOR) and lands in the AOR? How do you handle a missile that launches in an AOR and lands in the next AOR? And how do you handle a missile that launches in an AOR, overflies an AOR, and lands in a third? What's the global command and control structure that's going to handle that? What's the concept of operations? How do we move forward as we expand this capability? Then of course they have the critical role to advocate for missile defense capabilities.
In the Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) area, I have a group of dedicated folks working closely with Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) whose principle job day in and day out is to recommend apportionment of our very limited ISR resources, to find better ways that we can share air-breathing assets, sea-based assets and space-based assets to achieve ISR effects in support of the regional combatant commanders. Oh by the way, in support of Strategic Command as well. To advocate for all the combatant commanders on what we need for the future to fill the shortfalls that we have today.
In the information operations world down in San Antonio, we have the Joint Information Operations Warfare Command that maintains the center of excellence for all pillars of IO except computer network operations. That's our line of operation. I have another two groups that do that. So they're doing psychological operations (PsyOp), military deception (MilDec), operational security (OpSec), all those other pillars in there. They're the center of excellence for those and they support STRATCOM mission areas in space, cyber and strategic deterrence, and they also support and advocate for capabilities for all the regional combatant commanders.
Weapons of mass destruction, the STRATCOM center for combating weapons of mass destruction, is tied with DTRA. In fact Dr. Jim (James) Tegnelia is dual-hatted as the head of the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) and the head of this organization for Strategic Command. Their job is to synchronize the combating weapons of mass destruction plans that every regional combatant commander must develop for the Unified Command Plan (UCP), synchronize those around the world so that the plan in one AOR isn't interfering with the plan in another AOR. And advocating for the tools that the warfighters need for combating weapons of mass destruction as we go forward.
So [there are] two fundamental buckets. Missions where we operate across lines, and then in the other areas, missions where I say we knit together seams between regional combatant commanders. That's what we're doing at STRATCOM.
I'd like to spend a little time, if I could, on our three lines of operation. This is where we have increased focus since October in the command, to make sure we're paying attention to our 24x7 operations and achieving the effects that we've been assigned to achieve. I'm going to start first with space.
You talk about exciting business. You talk about an exciting last 24 hours in this mission area. I think something historic may have happened today, and I'm going to let the historians correct me to 100 percent at a later time, but since I have the podium I'm going to declare this. I think in this last exercise with the shooting of the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) satellite, this entire operation, Operation Burnt Frost, for the first time U.S. Strategic Command was called out to be the supported combatant commander. Supported for space.
Think about it! Our space forces are normally in support of other regional combatant commanders. In this case we needed support from regional combatant commanders and other combatant commanders, functional as well, to pull this off and STRATCOM was named in the order as the supported combatant commander. I think that's significant.
What support did we get? Tremendous support. I can tell you in the discussions about how we're going to pull this off and make it work. In my discussions with Admiral Keating, the Commander of Pacific Command (PACOM). In my discussions with General Schwartz, the Commander of Transportation Command (TRANSCOM). In my discussions with the head of various agencies that we needed for support. There were never any discussions about operational control (OpCon) or tactical control (TACON) of this, it was who's supported? Does that make sense? How can we support you? When are we going to switch over? How can we make sure we're postured correctly to get the job done?
So for the shoot-down, STRATCOM was supported. For preparations for contingency management, for consequence management, STRATCOM was supported to pull those teams together. But the day we had a crisis that needed to be addressed anywhere around the world, we immediately were going to turn to supporting that regional combatant commander and bring our forces to bear under their orders to help with the consequence management. It really worked great.
And it wasn't just STRATCOM working with regional combatant commanders. It was the huge interagency accomplishments that I am incredibly proud of. Close workings with the National Security Council. Close workings with the State Department, the National Reconnaissance Office, DARPA, DTRA, NASA, Missile Defense Agency, absolutely key to the effort. TRANSCOM, as I've mentioned, PACOM, every regional combatant commander we had to work with for consequence management. The United States Navy, particularly the Pacific Fleet. Air Force Space Command. Absolutely fundamental to this operation and did a superb job. And SMDC ARSTRAT. The Army, also key in supporting this. And just about every one of the functional components that we have in STRATCOM was involved in some fashion and in some consequential fashion in every element of this effort.
If I sound a little excited or a little proud of these folks and the efforts of the headquarters folks in particular at STRATCOM, then I'm coming through loud and clear. I am very proud of what has happened here over the last weeks.
What started as a thought back in December, a question by someone from the NRO to the MDA Director that said is there anything that we can possibly do? And an answer of well, not no, but I don't know, let's take a look at it.
Weeks before December to now to pull this operation together is a huge testament to the capabilities and the dedication of the people of all these organizations in the United States of America.
I look at space, though, in total, with a look at how we're addressing it in STRATCOM, how we're looking at that mission area broadly, I guess my assessment would be I think we have it just about right. We've got good focus on human capital. We've got good people coming up. And I see focus in the services on growing, training and developing the kind of people that we're going to need for the future and I think that's appropriate.
We have a good command and control construct I think that has been developed over many years and a lot of gnashing of teeth that's centered around the Joint Functional Component Command under the leadership of General Willy Shelton for Space out at Vandenberg Air Force Base. And his relationship not only with STRATCOM Headquarters as my component for space, but also the relationship he has to the Director of Space Forces at every Combined Forces Air Component Commander (CFAC) in every regional combatant command around the world. I think that is working today, and congratulations to many who worked this long before I got in this business.
The other thing I would say, though, that we have learned and we need to continue to focus on as we look forward on what this command needs in the future and what our nation needs. We need to focus on capabilities and ensure that we don't have gaps in the key capabilities that we have become accustomed to using the way we fight our wars in this nation and we have become accustomed to in the way we live and operate the economy of the United States of America. What I'm talking about here is missile warning. We cannot tolerate a gap in missile warning from space. Strategic communications. We cannot tolerate a gap in strategic communications. Precision navigation and timing and the ISR capabilities that we enjoy from space. We don't want gaps in these areas. They need to be properly funded, resourced, and fielded. We shouldn't have continuing discussions on this. By now, it ought to be the right thing to do and we just move on and make it happen.
I'm not saying we don't scrutinize programs. I'm not saying we don't try to do things more efficiently. But let's not kid ourselves. We cannot envision fighting fights or living in America without any of the capabilities I just discussed. With a four year gap in any one of those capabilities, it just doesn't work. It's got to be nose to tail, and that's the way it's going to be in the 21st Century, so let's get on with it.
Another area is bandwidth. We're fielding a lot of ISR forces for the joint fight of the future. We are pushing constantly to move information to the very edge of the battle space. We are saying that a key leveraging capability of the United States of America and the way we fight is information. Our ability to take data, turn it into knowledge, to push it out and share it. That takes pipes. It takes pipes that runs under sea, that runs on the land and that runs through the air. It takes pipes in space. What we cannot do is kid ourselves and put all our eggs in one basket as evidenced by the vulnerability demonstrated very recently by a ship, talk about low technology, dragging an anchor in the Mediterranean Sea and the impact that had on bandwidth supply to Southwest Asia, indeed South Asia as well. We need to stay focused on the capabilities that space can bring to us both as an alternative source but also with the peculiar capabilities that it can in this particular area.
Let me shift to cyber. A little different assessment on cyber, and not surprising. It's an immature, rapidly growing mission area.
Human capital. We're deficient in human capital. We need the same focus from the services on raising the right people to do this mission area as we have in space, as we have for developing fighter pilots, bomber pilots, you name it. Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines, in every other mission area we need that same focus. We need to organize, train and equip them. We need to put them in units that can be presented as forces, not belly buttons, to this combatant commander who has the mission of conducting operations, defensive operations and offensive operations in this domain. We're deficient in this today.
In the command and control (C2) area, which is also maturing on how we organize this force, I don't think we want to repeat the same mistakes that we made in space which is a ten year or longer debate on how we organize this global mission. I think there are a lot of analogies between cyber and space operations. I think we ought to leverage off what we've learned, how we've learned to integrate the global commons of space into the regional combatant commander's integrated operations. We ought to be thinking, as a starting point, the same way about cyberspace, and we need to be thinking about cyberspace just like we think about space -- certainly after the last 24 hours -- as a mission area that not only supports but will need to be supported as well in the future.
There's a lot of work going on in this area. This is an exciting time to be part of this burgeoning mission area both at STRATCOM and in the services. We're moving forward, I think. I'm most comfortable with where we are in our mission areas to operate and defend the global information grid (GIG). That's the dot-mil, dot-s-mil domain. That's what we've been chartered to do in STRATCOM. Not dot-gov, not dot-EDU, not dot-com. The Department of Homeland Security has that mission. We're pitching in as best we can to help them out. That's a steep hill to climb, ladies and gentlemen, as you can imagine. But we must, in any warfighting scenario we know all too well that no matter what happens in those other dot domains or in any other contingency around the world, warfighters today depend on the SIPRnet and the NIPRnet to conduct operations, and we must be able to defend it.
We know we will not be able to defend it perfectly, so most importantly, we've got to understand how we're going to operate through an attack. We need skilled operators in this domain who know how to do that. That's the lesson I took from Estonia. They were under attack, they continued to operate. That's the hard thing. How are you going to continue to operate in a jamming environment or an interference environment? Have we learned this before in the air-to-air world with communication jammers? There are technology solutions but there are also tactics, techniques and procedures (TTPs), there are other things that will apply directly to cyber.
On the net attack mission area that we have, I can tell you today what we cannot do is do network attack in crisis. We do not have the trained and ready forces assigned to STRATCOM to be able to do that. This particular mission set, in my view, like every other mission set that warfighters perform, is enabled by focused and skilled intelligence. In this particular area probably even more so than others. However, this in my view is not an intelligence mission. Network attack is a Title 10 warfighting mission, and oh by the way, it's been given to STRATCOM. What STRATCOM needs, in my view, are Title 10 forces organized, trained and equipped by the services and presented to this command with Title 50 authorities so that they can do both exploitation, and when required, attack. So, they can do day in and day out intelligence preparation of the battlespace so that we can in crisis present potential courses of actions that are non-kinetic in nature.
Failing this we never achieve, in my view, the vision of the new triad that says our global strike capability includes kinetic nuclear, kinetic non-nuclear, and non-kinetic options. It's not a pickup game. We've learned this in our current operations. You've got to work this day in and day out, 24x7 to be ready to put something on the table in a reasonable amount of time to achieve an affect.
Now my third area that we operate across boundaries, deterrence. I've got to tell you, as I came in doing a little self assessment, this is an area where I realized I had the most learning to do. I grew up, the first part of my career, reconnaissance pilot, fighter pilot, test pilot; went to NASA, got immersed in space. Came back. My first look at even a waking moment or fleeting thought about nuclear deterrence was in 1998 when I came back to Air Force Space Command as the Deputy Director of Operations, and we had ICBMs. I said okay, tell me about these things. I immersed myself for a short period of time and then moved away from that mission area not to come back for over five years, when presented with 8th Air Force and the bomber forces of our B-52s and B-2s, and then Air Force Space Command, back to the ICBM world. So late in my career I'm starting to learn a lot of new things about this area.
One thing I've learned is that deterrence in the 21st Century is going to be much more nuanced than the deterrence we all grew up with in the 20th Century. It's tougher than having a monolithic, single Soviet Empire that you know you have to deter a tremendous, large-scale nuclear attack against your way of life. That was hard, but it's not as tough I think as the diverse threats and the diverse characters and nation states and even non-nation states that I think we would be at peril if we did not attempt to deter their activities, focus to deter their activities in the future.
One thing that I think I've also concluded that is not nuanced is that I believe for the remainder of this century, and that's about as far out as I can think, that's my children's lifetime and my grandchildren's lifetime--I believe there's going to be a need for a nuclear deterrent in the United States of America, and I think about it in this way.
If another nation on this planet holds nuclear capability that could threaten our way of life or our existence either by employing those weapons or by using them to blackmail the United States, then we will have nuclear weapons to counter this. And although, like many who have written on this subject recently, I share the vision of any parent of a day some day where there are no nuclear weapons in the world, I don't think that is in conflict with the need to be ready until we can somehow work our way into achieving that vision. And frankly, I don't see us achieving that vision in this century. It doesn't mean you don't work at it.
Now, if you buy into that, if you're going to have one nuclear weapon in your inventory or 100 nuclear weapons in your inventory or 1,000, in any case, you need a couple of fundamental things. You need people. You need the human capital with the expertise and knowledge and know-how, how to build them, how to maintain them, how to think about how you would use them in a deterrent scenario or posture them to deter an adversary from using them against you. You need infrastructure to support that weapon system, just like you need infrastructure to support any other weapon system. It's production capabilities, it's maintenance capabilities, it's technical expertise to be able to do that. And we as warfighters need the tools, this country owes us the tools to do the missions that we're assigned. And the tools you need in this area are nuclear weapons and the delivery systems to hold a credible deterrent against an adversary.
I have serious concerns in each of these three areas as I look to the future about our ability to posture and sustain a credible nuclear deterrent in the future. I'm going to focus just on one of them this afternoon and that's the weapons.
This is one where I came in, again, into this job and I realized I was in trouble when I was interviewing for my testimony in front of the United States Senate with the individual senators and their offices. And Senator Nelson from Florida started asking me some questions and using some acronyms that I frankly had not heard of before. I said Senator, I'm going to have to take that one for the record. He said I understand completely, but he gave me some wonderful advice. He said I commend you in the first days in your command at Strategic Command to immerse yourself in this particular area because it's important. I took his advice.
Last fall I made it a point to visit every one of our nuclear labs that we have in the United States. I've got a couple more to go.
I came in with a clean sheet of paper, a blank look at this. No preconceived notions. As I said, I hadn't spent a lot of time thinking about it beforehand. But I've come away with some conclusions that I've developed on my own. And let me paint a picture for you here using kind of a backbone or a skeleton that will make sense to everybody here in the room. It goes, what are your capability needs, how those drive to requirements, how you then turn requirements into design priorities, how you always have to balance your risk and then have strategies to mitigate those risks with respect to nuclear weapons.
Let me look back at the Cold War. Why is that important? Because the weapons we have in our inventory today are Cold War weapons. The newest is 20 years old. Some are 40 years old. Remember those numbers.
Cold War. What were our capability needs in the Cold War? Large numbers of deployed weapons to be able to deter, counter or neuter a massive Soviet attack on the United States of America. Mutually assured destruction. It started in the 1950s with a massive buildup of arms on both sides of the world. Large numbers. What did the Soviets have that we didn't have? Big rockets. We had little rockets. We had plans to build giant rockets so we could put more warheads on them. We were going to put them inside a Navy ship especially designed, not a submarine. This is in the ""50s, surface ship.
Dr. Edward Teller was at that meeting. He says you know, I have a better solution. Why don't make a smaller bomb? We don't have the technology to do that. He said I think I can make a smaller bomb for you. He went back to Lawrence Livermore Laboratories and said here's the deal. We've got to get this much bang in this big a package. They said we don't know how to do that. He said figure it out. America needs it. And they did.
The design point, the capability need to meet the large numbers, given our infrastructure, the size of aircraft, the size of rockets that we had was to maximize yield and minimize volume. Build as small and as powerful a weapon as you could. That's what they did. The design priorities were packaging and punch and that's what they built.
The risks that they were willing to take were in reliability. Okay, we're going to build them small, we're going to build them strong, but we're not going to build them maybe quite as reliable as you'd like them because we're going to have to build them to such tight tolerances.
Here's the example. When we talk about tolerances in a nuclear weapon you'll hear the term margin thrown around. What margin means to me is the probability that it's going to work when you need it. If you're trying to compact the maximum bang into the minimum volume, you think of an Indy car. A high speed, high tech race car where they've got as much engine packed under that hood as they can, as much technology packed into that vehicle as they can because that's the constraint. They're constrained by size. They worked that hard. What do they sacrifice on that? Imagine trying to maintain one of those, lift the hood and work on it. Tough.
One of the most exciting points in any race is when the announcer says at the beginning, ""Ladies and gentlemen, start your engine. "" Why is that a tense moment? Not a lot of margin in those things. How many racecar drivers got to that point and had to be pushed off the track because they couldn't start it? That's the kind of weapons we have in our inventory today. That's the kind of risk we took because we needed the maximum bang and the minimum volume.
Safety and security. Important at the time, of course, but were we worried about people stealing nuclear weapons during the height of the Cold war with the Soviets? We had people guarding these things, we put a lot of infrastructure in place. I heard General Kehler talking about that earlier, about the investments we continue to make in security for our weapon systems around the world. We threw manpower and we threw equipment at it, but the threat wasn't that big then of someone stealing it. The threat was 5,000 missiles coming over the horizon. That's what we were focused on. Safety and security were in the design phase but they weren't high priorities.
And maintainability? These things are not maintainable. They are packed together so tightly that you've got to break them to take them apart, and the pieces that are in them are 20 and 40 year old design pieces, and guess what? Tube technology has long left us. You talk about a vanishing [inaudible] problem. And yes, there are tube technology issues in our deployed nuclear force.
What was the mitigation? How could they take these risks in the Cold War? It's pretty simple. Their plan was to replace these weapons every 10 to 15 years, and they did, with new designs. They had a robust test program, so if you found a problem that gave you a little suspicion about reliability, go test it. It's a block. We're not sure this block will work. Well, test it. Now we're sure this block will work. And they had a robust production capability. We could produce hundreds of new nuclear weapons every year during the Cold War. That kept our expertise up. If we had a problem you could just build new ones. Design a new one and build it and recover from that deficit in rapid order. And we had a variety of weapons. Oh by the way, we still have that variety today.
So what has changed? Well, in the 1990's, we decided we didn't want to test any more. In the 1990's, we shut down our last nuclear weapon production facility at Rocky Flats in Colorado. The United States of America has no nuclear weapon production capability today. Now these were weapons we designed on purpose with tight margin to be replaced every 10, 15, 20 years. They're 20 and 40 years old and we cannot replace them today, ladies and gentlemen, because we don't have a production facility.
Another key thing that changed in the world environment is this group of folks running around called terrorists who have said if they can get their hands on one of these things they will detonate it in the United States of America. Again, not a high priority in the Cold War.
So let's run the checklist again. What are our capability needs today and as we look forward into the 21st Century? Well, the President has said as a minimum this country will provide a credible nuclear deterrent. And in the Nuclear Posture Review, we've been told that that capability should be second to none. So these are our goals. These are our capability needs.
I would maintain for a lot of reasons we still do not want to test. So that's got to be a going-in requirement as we move forward. And given the terrorist threat today, I think we want to make sure that if we ever were to lose control of one of these weapons, they could not be used against us.
So what's our requirement now? If you don't want to test you better have high margin and high reliability. Don't build me an Indy racing car. Build me something that I can put in the garage for 25, 30 years and go out, stick the key in, and with high confidence turn it and it starts. Every time. Build that kind of design. That's at the top of my design list for the weapons we need for the 21st Century. I need that weapon to be maintainable so it looks more like the Jeep I owned back in 1985 than my Suburban today. So when I lift it up I can find the fuel pump, I can find the hose, I can find the radiator, I can find the various parts that are not part of the physics package, and I can inspect them, take them out, test them, make sure they work, to maintain that assurance that I have high margin and high reliability. We cannot do that today in our Cold War era weapons.
And I would put high on my design requirements a safe and secure weapon, and we have the technologies today, ladies and gentlemen, to put in our weapons systems that if taken from us will essentially become useless to the person who took them. They wouldn't even be able to use the material to accomplish their objectives even if they broke into it and took it apart. You can't put those features on our Cold War legacy weapons because there's no room. We maximized the bang and minimized packaging.
So my priorities today -- high reliability, safe, secure and maintainable. I'm willing to take risk in yield and in packaging. We don't have to be as efficient to get the job done. How can I mitigate what we have today?
We need people that understand this problem, who can work this problem, who can address this problem, and we need to reestablish a production capacity for the United States of America.
We need to modernize our inventory of nuclear weapons, ladies and gentlemen. I believe that is the conclusion I have strongly come to after taking a look at what we have available to us today and what we will have available for our children and our children's children in the future.
We need to make the appropriate investments today, this year. We cannot continue to push this down the road. We need to make the investments this year to answer the key questions on how best to do this. What is the best way to modernize this force?
And regardless of the path we choose vis-""-vis the weapons, we need to move out on reestablishing a production capability for the United States of America. It will do two things. It will allow us to modernize this capability, it will put people to work in the industry so that we maintain the human capital that we will need for the coming decades of this century.
Today the expertise in America to develop, maintain and field nuclear weapons is aging faster than the plutonium in the weapons themselves. In five years, the last person who was involved in any way, shape or form in a nuclear test in this country will retire. This is a graying workforce. We cannot tolerate that if we are going to provide a nuclear deterrent for the future generations of this country.
I also strongly feel that the Air Force and the Navy uniquely have a big role in advocating for these capabilities, standing up and talking about them, and in developing the human capabilities and human capital that we're going to need to move forward.
None of these measures that I've talked about in my view are in conflict with the desire to reduce global inventories of nuclear weapons or to reduce the risk of proliferation of nuclear weapons. In fact in my look at this, I think what I've talked about here is actually supportive of both goals. But that's for another discussion, and it likely is a long one as well.
Deterrence in the last century, I think we can argue successfully that there was nobody better in the world, nobody more thoughtful, nobody more capable, no better expertise at this task than the United States Air Force. I'm not sure we can say that today.
There are probably a lot of factors for that. The end of the Cold War. The peace dividend. Seventeen years of continuous combat operations for our Air Force. I would ask you to ask yourselves, did we lose some focus? The fundamentals of deterrence, have they faded and fallen off our radar scope? Have we forgotten that really the most noble thing we do as a military is deter warfare, not fight it? And do we appreciate what it takes to do that?
These are tough subjects to talk about. When I told somebody I was going to stand up here and give a speech supporting the development of a modernized nuclear weapon they said you're out of your mind. Who's going to stand up and clap on that one? I don't care. [Laughter]. No one has to stand up and clap on this one, but I'm telling you folks, we've got to get on with this. This is a problem that we need to invest in and focus on today. And guess what? There's not a lot of Air Force table of allowance (TOA) involved in this, it's just commitment.
Well, Strategic Command has the same challenge and we're reenergizing our look at this particular mission area and how we focus on deterrence. It's a tougher job in the 21st Century than the 20th Century and we recognize that.
Along with our other operating areas where we operate across seams and where we try to knit together seams, I've got to tell you, STRATCOM is a great place to be. I encourage you to try to come work for us there if you ever have the opportunity. We're in the fight every day in space and in cyber and deterrence and having a hell of a time doing it.
Thank you so much for your attention. I look forward to your questions.
Moderator: General Chilton, you've got the audience fired up. I've got about a couple of dozen questions to start you off on.
But since we've had this audience squirreled way in the room for the better part of the day, can you give us some operational details about the shoot-down, and in particular what pieces are left, when are they going to come down, and talk a little bit about the considerations that you've discussed behind the scenes here?
General Chilton: Thanks, Mike.
The kernel of this, the seed was planted back in December of last year, a few weeks before Christmas. As I mentioned, a senior official from the NRO who was very concerned about this satellite's reentry came to the head of the Missile Defense Agency and others, myself included, and said I really wish there was something we could do about this because I'm very concerned about the hydrazine on this vehicle. That, I assure you, was the number one and has been the number one focus throughout all discussions vis-""-vis this particular satellite.
The Director of the NRO and I had many conversations and if it were not for this hydrazine tank, 1,000 pounds of hydrazine on board the satellite, we wouldn't have wasted a heartbeat thinking about the reentry. The risk to population and the number of reentries we have all the time from space, it's in the same order of magnitude. We don't do anything about those and we wouldn't in this case. So the whole discussion, Mike, centered around this hydrazine tank and what could we do.
Again, I salute the folks at MDA and the leadership of Trey Obering. Someone told me, I think it's Steve Lorenz, he gives a great speech on leadership. He says you know, the easiest answer is no because you don't have to change anything. Someone asks you, can you do it? You don't have to change anything, you just keep doing things. Can you help me? No. Can't help you. Too busy.
Yes is the hardest thing for a leader to say. He said yes, we'll take a look at it. They diverted some human capital, some great thought to put into this. And after Christmas, Trey called me up and said I think we can do this. I think we can do this. We've got a lot of work to do. We haven't solved all the problems, but I think we can do this. That was how this all started.
What did we weigh in this? I've gone on record before and I still feel very strongly about this. I am not a big fan of creating debris in orbit. I don't think it's a good idea. I think it's bad. It puts humans at risk, it puts critical assets we have in space at risk, and I don't think it's something we ought be doing or doing lightly. So here we're trading off a known risk that we're going to increase orbital debris. We're asking ourselves the questions, if you hit this thing and don't hit the tank are you going to make things worse on the ground? If you hit it and you hit the tank and you mitigate the hydrazine are you going to make things worse on the ground just from debris coming down? It's like would you rather have a 600 mile long risk, 150 mile wide risk, or a shotgun effect around the world? That's the difference. It's a high dense area or a very sparsely spread out area.
So the weighing of those risks -- orbital debris, risk to people on the ground, risk from hydrazine if we did nothing. And I'll tell you at the highest levels of government the decision came down to one factor. Even though it's low probability that someone would be injured by the hydrazine it was not zero. The feeling was how could you look somebody in the eye, a mother, a father, and say I'm sorry that your son, daughter, or family member was injured or killed by this, knowing that you could have done something or you might have, could have, done something about that. That's what compelled and motivated people to work this so hard.
Then from the first week in January until last night -- well, let me put it this way. There are a lot of folks that I think are just reintroducing themselves to their families today because they haven't seen them since the first week in, maybe since before Christmas. They've been working darn hard on it. I'm so proud of them.
Moderator: Your dear friends, the Chinese, had something to say about this, and this is an inside joke because when General Chilton and I served together on the Joint Staff he had China as part of his responsibility. They criticized the shootdown. Would you like to respond to their criticism?
General Chilton: Yes. They said we're hypocritical because we criticized their shootdown. There is absolutely no comparison between what the Chinese did and what we did on many, many levels.
First of all, they shot at something up at 800 kilometers. The debris from that will last for 100 years. They shot at a satellite on orbit for the sole purpose to complete their development of an anti-satellite system. They shot at that satellite and destroyed it and increased risk to humans in space and systems in space without warning the international community in violation of standard protocol.
The United States on the other hand, was totally transparent about what we were doing, why we were doing it. We waited, and for various reasons, some technical, but I'll tell you, in my mind, not being a big fan of space debris, we tried to take the shot as low as reasonable balancing the probability of success with altitude, as low as we though prudent which means that the debris from this shot will all be down in six months to a year, and the majority of the debris -- Let me put it this way. The increase in risk, and we worked this very closely with NASA. The increase in risk for people on the International Space Station will be elevated for a 48 hour period, below the noise level and below the normal risks that they are accepting up there, and be back down to what it was yesterday in 48 hours.
We did this very prudently, very transparently. We not only told everybody we were going to do it, we contacted embassies around the world and told them what the consequences of hydrazine were coming down in their area, and we have put together a consequence management force that is on alert today at Maguire Air Force Base, a joint interagency force that is on 24 hour alert to be anywhere in the world to support any nation who asks for our help.
There is no comparison between what the Chinese did and what the United States did.
Moderator: I've got a lot of questions from the audience on cyber. Let me just ask them all at once and you choose what you can answer because we've just got a couple of minutes left.
The Air Force is in the process of creating a Cyber Command. Do you need one from the Army, the Navy and the Marines? Why don't we shut down some of the terrorist web sites with our cyber capabilities? And what do you need from industry in terms of support for the cyber element of your mission?
General Chilton: Yes, to the first one. I'm excited about the Air Force organizing, planning to organize, train and equip forces to provide forces to Strategic Command for us to do our mission. I think the Army and the Navy need to do that and the Marine Corps as well. I think they're giving it careful consideration right now.
We've talked about this in the Tank on a couple of occasions. The wheels come around slowly.
A little thing that's different between this and space is the Army, the Navy, the Air Force and Marines weren't so much running around at the unit level or even at the squadron or the wing level, platoon and brigade level, and doing space things. It was kind of at a higher level and most in the Air Force and certain parts of the Navy, a little bit in the Army. But everybody that's got a computer is doing cyber things. So there's a lot of the well, how should I say, pre-Goldwater-Nichols thought on forces and capabilities in this domain. This is a warfighting mission. COCOMs do that. Services organize, train and equip. They don't conduct operations. They provide forces to combatant commanders. Even that is having to be kind of socialized and come in at a little bit of a high element.
Part of that is because a lot of this is also in the intelligence community, a lot of the capabilities.
What can industry do? Well, we need the human capital, so give us some of those really bright folks that are working for you and let us put uniforms on them. [Laughter]. Yeah, that's going to happen. But you never know.
But there are going to be some key technologies that we'll need here. Industry is interested in this too. America's industrial base is dependent on safe, secure networks. They know that. So they're going to be great partners, I think, in this effort, Mike. Then there are some high end technologies in the net attack exploitation area that we're not going to ungrow those. Some we can, but we're going to really depend on that.
I think I missed a third question.
Moderator: Terrorist web sites.
General Chilton: I can't go there.
Moderator: I didn't think so.
Listen, this concludes our first half day of the symposium. I think you'll see that General Chilton was the perfect guy to conclude, and it certainly kept all of our interest. Sir, on behalf of all of us at AFA and the audience here, thank you very much for your presentation and your comments.