U.S. Strategic Command

 

Speeches

AFA Symposium

By General James Cartwright | Orlando, Fla. | February 08, 2007

Topic: Striking the Balance-Today's War, Tomorrow's threats, Future Technology

General Cartwright: What I'd like to do, and do it relatively briefly here is talk about a few of the issues that we mutually have. 2006 was an interesting year. A lot of issues associated with where we are today as a Department of Defense and as a nation and where we're going in the future, and the foreboding that may be associated with that. At least for the few minutes that I've been in here some of that has been alluded to, but we certainly saw the launch of multiple tactical, intermediate and long range ballistic missiles during the year. We also saw that those missiles can in minutes hold neighbors near and far at risk. They can also hold those things that are on the earth and in space at risk in minutes.

That starts to tell the story of where we may be going in the future. If you couple with that either the contemplation of or the overt action of developing and testing weapons of mass destruction, you start to put together a combination that will challenge at least the mission of the United States Strategic Command, and certainly our partner, the world's greatest Air Force. We have a challenge in front of us. I'm going to try to hit a couple of wave tops on that challenge and some of the areas that are certainly in both of our portfolios. It won't be all of them, and I gather we allow you two questions, which I really like. But I'm willing to go into that in more depth as I either irritate you or humor you here for the next few minutes.

The first issue, and I'm looking at the crowd and trying to get a gauge on the demographics here, but when I was at least slightly younger there was a movie called The Graduate. In The Graduate there was one word, and that word was ""plastics"". When we went to the first Gulf War there was one word, and that word was ""precision"". As we come out of the current conflict, to me the word is ""collaboration"". The way we collaborate, the way we start to build distributed operations, netcentric operations, network enabled operations. Everybody's got their buzz word. Let me throw in transformation, too. But as we start to move forward, this is inundating the way we do business. It is having a direct affect on the way we do business.

And at the core of this activity is really the data. Access to the data, being able to discover it, getting rid of the ownership idea, getting it to the people who really need it, keeping it from being templated too early so that unintended users can also take advantage of it, because the reality here is whether you're on the ground or in the air, when you step across a line of departure or you light the burners, shit happens. You've got to be able to respond. Waiting for five to ten years is unacceptable in the world that we live in. We live in a world of Moore's Law, not the industrial construct. We've got to figure out a way to make that work.

The good news here is there are a lot of bright people trying to bring to the table both acquisition reform, requirements reform, process reform, you name it. And there are an awful lot of bright 18 and 19 year olds out there that are doing the same thing every day as they get up in the morning and step across the line of departure, and thank God for them because they save our bacon every time we turn around. But we have got to figure out how to start moving this data around and how to build these organizations and integrate them without losing the culture, without losing that part of a service's ethos that makes us either in the cockpit or in the foxhole willing to die for the person that's standing next to us. We can't lose that. We cannot erase that in the name of joint, we can't erase that in the name of netcentric. It has to stay.

So whatever we do has to allow that to occur and has to allow us to capitalize on that kind of ethos. That's important, and we could erase that in a heartbeat with some idea of a technical solution for all problems. We have as a command at Strategic Command built a distributed organization along functional lines. What is absolutely essential to me is to marry up with the United States Air Force as they network together their Air Operation Centers. Without those Air Operation Centers our functionally distributed nodes have no way to connect to the fight. I've got to have that. The service is moving in that direction but without it we've got nothing to connect to. It's absolutely essential to us to be able to do that.

The good news is we're moving in that direction, and you've heard a few cases today and there are more exercises planned in 2007 that will start to demonstrate both the value and the power of this distributed, collaborative environment that we're moving to. Moving that information is the second challenge in this distributed world. I'm really heartened by the work that is being done right now to start to distribute that backbone. We have vulnerabilities in the way we distribute information. We have challenges in the way we distribute information. It's one thing to get information in a headquarters; it's a whole different thing to get it on a PDA to a sniper who's got to put a bullet through somebody's forehead. We've got to figure out how to move that out. We've got to get rid of the single points of failure. We cannot rely solely on space to distribute this information. We've got to find ways to get to the terrestrial backbones. We've got to find ways to move through the air with this information.

We have done demonstrations in 2006 here in CONUS to do that. Now we're starting to expand that overseas. I think we're headed in the right direction but we've got to watch that. We cannot allow the nation to become single point failure prone, particularly if it's just an investment decision. There is value in redundancy. I think the other piece that is out there on the horizon that we've got to start to think about, and you've heard some discussion here about F-22 and some of the new aircraft. The platforms of the future are going to be challenged if we stay with the technical architecture, information architecture, of those closed systems.

If we don't start to figure out an architecture that is more representative of the commercial that I particularly like on television where you're watching the guy order his  computer and it's being built as it goes down the line for his purpose and for the purpose of that activity, if we can't get to a bus structure that can handle the loads that we're going to deal with in the future, if we can't get to a plug and play architecture, if we're relying on what we designed five years before we flew and then got to the warfighter five years later, Moore's Law has just been lost to the warfighter. We cannot cede that.

We have got to start to think about a different architectural structure inside of our closed platforms. Absent that, we're going to be crippled. And how that connects to the rest of the world is going to be absolutely essential. We're learning that but we've got to carry that over into the industrial sector, into the way we do business. We cannot afford to wait for upgrades to OFPs for two or three years along with $2 or $3 billion worth of expense. It just doesn't make any sense when I can plug any computer into any printer and it knows what it is and it can use it. We can't accept anything less and we've got to be able to invent on the fly if we're going to ask these youngsters to step across the line of departure into the unknown. It's just absolutely essential.

Second point, cyber operations. Often cloaked behind a lot of green doors and I can't tell you that and I'd like to tell you that, all that stuff. Set expectations that are probably unrealistic. But the reality is that well over 90 percent of American business directly interfaces to the cyber world. We conduct commerce there as a nation. We conduct almost all of our commerce in some way on that cyber backbone. We cannot let that space go uncontested. We fight in that environment and yet the way we're organized today, and please let me be a little bit pejorative here. Number one, the system was designed somewhat ad hoc. Number two, it's completely built on terminal defense so you wait to be attacked, you're attacked, you wait three or four weeks for somebody to build you a patch, and then you install it.

That decision cycle is getting to the point for American business where they can no longer pass those costs off to the consumer, and for a warfighter, two or three weeks is just unacceptable to defend a key node -- whether it be an airplane or a headquarters -- from an attack. We just can't accept that any more. We've got to change the architecture of this system. We've got to get out of the mindset that it is purely a defensive activity and we are willing to accept attack and then respond by building a better defense. We've got to start to move out on this. As we do that, we've got to start to understand the integration of offense, defense, and exploitation.

My grunt mentality on this is the way we're organized today, we defend our computer, we launch "reccy teams" out to see what's going on out there, we build a couple of attack teams over here, we make sure the "reccy teams" don't tell the defenders what they found, or the attackers, and the attackers go out and attack and don't tell anybody that they did. It's a complete secret to everybody in the loop and it's dysfunctional. It's really got to change. So the integration of offense, reconnaissance and defense has got to occur. We're starting to drive that activity. It only makes sense to move in that direction.

But this is a tough world. Baghdad to Seattle via geosynchronous orbit, 300 milliseconds. Want to race? How are you going to detect something going on in Baghdad and reconfigure the defenses at Langley? This is a whole different activity. We've got to start to understand how we're going to approach it. The challenge that I see over the next year is to understand those things that are tactical and how we're going to work in the tactical environment and who's going to work in the tactical environment, those things that are operational and those things that are strategic, and how does that fit into the warfighting construct? And not let the geeks turn it into a special language behind a bunch of closed doors so that a warfighter has no idea how to use it. We just can't go there. We've got to start to understand for the services what are the skills we're going to recruit to, what do cyber warriors really look like, what skills do they have, and what skills are we going to recruit and train to, and which ones are we going to leave for a different group?

The teams that we have put together that have been reasonably successful don't really fall along the normal demographic lines. When you look at the cyber threat and those who are acting in that environment, they generally are layered in three tiers. The first is the hacker. Pretty inexperienced, pretty rudimentary in the approach. The second is those who would be more classified as criminals, and who are generally backed by some organization that has a substantial amount of resource. Then there's a huge gap and there's the nation state level of this activity. The real difference here is not how much college, not how much math, it's the investment. What's the access to the investment? When you talk about nation state, and you talk about that level of investment, how you're starting to get a sense of the maturity of this activity and the potential downside of an attack.

We as a nation don't have a national lab structure associated with this so we aren't growing the intellectual capital we need to, at least at the rate that we need to be doing. We are trying to figure out how to recruit and train go this activity, but if you're in the military or if you're in industry when you find one you're willing to pay them almost anything to keep them. The numbers that we have that are at that top level tier don't equal this, Marine math, but don't equal this many people. When you train a person to be good in this environment it's not unlike the Manhattan Project. You've given them the keys to the kingdom. So how are we going to retain them? What are we going to do about responsibility after they leave? There are a whole bunch of questions here that are starting to emerge.

The good news is, and there's been substantial press and activity, but the Air Force is standing up and taking this on. It's a huge task. It's not going to be solved in a year, but we've got to get in this. We cannot leave this environment which is so critical to American business, American interests and to American defense unseated. We just cannot go uncontested in this environment. We have to do it. Number three, reasonably controversial right now and I'm supposed to stand up here and try to stay out of trouble and not tell you anything but talk. Space. The environment up there is, to say the least, getting crowded.

When I was a 2nd lieutenant flying F-4s we really believed that little airplane, big sky, and we could pretty much point any direction we wanted to and we really didn't have much in the way of radar following us around and those types of things and you felt pretty safe. You could penetrate a cloud and who cared? There wouldn't be anybody on the other side of it. It used to be that way in space. It is not that way any more. We're layered deep in geosynchronous orbit. We're layered deep in low earth orbit. We spend day in and day out at the Joint Space Operations Center maneuvering around debris, maneuvering around other vehicles out there.

Day in and day out we have interference. Generally it is unintentional, but electromagnetic interference. We have all sorts of things going on out there. The mindset and the architecture that we have today as a nation is one of cataloging. We're willing to wait days and weeks to make sure we understand who's out there and what they're doing. It is a very reactive type of mindset. We have got to change that mindset. We have got to move forward aggressively in space situation awareness, to understand what's going on out there, to be able to proactively maintain situation awareness on our assets and our nation's interests whether they be in the electromagnetic side of the house for com or entertainment or all of the other things that go on, or whether they be in the physical conjunction between two bodies or whether they be because somebody launched something off the face of the earth with the intent to do damage. We have got to understand that now in real time.

People go oh, my God, there goes my budget. This is not big bucks. We've got the sensors. This is more about how you manage and network them together and interpret them than it is about going out and building a lot of stuff. We've got good systems coming down the pike but we have the means to start to do this today. The second thing you've got to do is you've got to think about the defensive measures that you want to put in place. Whether those measures have to do with just merely the posture of your assets, whether they have to do with visibility on DoD assets, other governmental agency assets, commercial assets, and how you maintain that situation awareness and understand their health and capabilities in real time. We've got to move to those kinds of postures.

To the credit of the Air Force we spent the last year developing postures and conditions for our assets, not only DoD but for all of the governmental capabilities and for commercial. We'll exercise those again this year. We're going to take them through the Schriever Wargames to start to understand what the art of the possible is to preserve our constellations. Where our constellations are very thin in numbers, we've got to start to understand measures that we can take to bring resilience to those constellations. Whether it is in responsive reconstitution of those capabilities or it is in the proliferation of numbers so that taking out one or two just isn't going to change the equation.

Every solution for our problem in space does not have to be accomplished in space. We've got plenty of ways to work offensively, defensively and intellectually in venues other than just space for anything that would be threatened in space. We do not need an arms race.

The next one and the last one, and then I'll close at that, is strike. Let me just talk a little bit about weapons and a little bit about delivery platforms and where Air Force and STRATCOM come together. On the weapon side of the equation, we are fielding by far some of the greatest JCODE weapons that we have ever been able to and in numbers now that really make a difference. Whether it is the tried and true JDAM or JSAU and the new joint, I can never remember all the letters for JASSM, but the air-launched cruise missile variant. These things are bringing to the table capabilities that heretofore required multiple sorties to accomplish what in this case one bomb can take care of.

That is fantastic. It allows us to hold at risk targets that heretofore we either needed large numbers of sorties and risk, or we had to move to the nuclear side to get the energy necessary to hold them at risk. We now have a choice. That's critical. We've got to maintain that capability and we've got to maintain the ability to deliver these weapons and have choices for the National Command Authority. We cannot find ourselves cornered into one alternative. Having said that, the Moscow Treaty was designed to bring down the number of nuclear weapons substantially.

We're ahead of schedule on that. Major activities associated with the Air Force in taking the last Peacekeeper out of the hole, taking the B-1 out of the equation, reducing the number of B-52s associated with it, getting rid of most of the cruise missiles. A lot of this work has gone on. It has been done and it is being done and it is moving in the right direction, but we still maintain and I still agree that we're going to need to have some nuclear weapons for the foreseeable future. The answer isn't zero yet. If that's true, they have to be the safest, most secure and most reliable weapons we have. Anything less than that is irresponsible for us, the Department of Defense, and certainly us as a nation.

The only way we're going to get there with the class of weapons we hold today that probably have more vacuum tubes in them than you want to know about, is to modernize these things. We have to do it. We've gone through the design competition this summer. We've got what we think is a reasonable design. And for those weapons that we feel we absolutely need to have, we now owe it to this country to ensure that we build them as safe and secure and reliable as possible with the minimum stockpile necessary for what we need to be our national interests. The delivery vehicles.

A lot of good work going on right now as we move towards what is always the most fun for generals and secretaries, is the testimony season. We have in that budget the bomber that was called for in the last budget season. We're bringing on new capabilities, but we've got to start to think about some of our delivery systems and are they doing what we need to do, are they the best business case for what we're doing, are we getting the biggest bang for the buck? The delivery systems for the ballistic missiles. We've got to start to find a way -- we're talking about family of boosters, but we've got to find a way where we don't build one, walk away for 20-25 years, and then come back and say to industry, okay, now it's time to build another one. Where's that team?

We've got to get a family that has a burn rate and allows us to infuse technology as we use these things across missile defense, across nuclear ICBMs, across conventional ballistic missiles, across responsive space and space. We've got to find a way to get a burn rate on these things and a decent business case that is not going to put us out of business and allows industry to maintain the intellectual capital necessary to build them. We just have to do that and we're going to have to come together to find a way to get to that solution somehow.

The other weapon/delivery vehicle discussion here has more to do with how we think about fielding these systems and how we think about employing these systems. But there are some attributes that in the future I think are going to be critical that maybe aren't quite as important today, but if you look out into the future are going to be important. Where we fly has to start to consider the attributes and survivability. That survivability attribute has to be brought not only to our missile and our aircraft, but also to our ISR platforms as we start to think our way into the future.

I love the SR-71, but when we gave it up we also gave up penetrating ISR. We're hurting as a result of that. We've got to change that equation. We've got to start to think about maneuvering flight, endo- and exo-atmosphere. We just have to get there. The technology's going to be challenging, but absent that, problems with overflight, problems with debris management, the ability to get some place prompt is going to be very constrained and we're going to find ourselves with adversaries who will take advantage of that. We've got to do something about that. I'm also hoping for the Easter Bunny. [Laughter]. That's my wish list.

My crystal ball's no better than anybody else's. But the one thing that I do know is that at least for STRATCOM the partnership with Air Force is part and parcel to this command. I'm not going any place as a commander without my Air Force. It is key to all of the missions and I've inherited an awful lot of missions all of a sudden. But every one of them really touched deeply with the Air Force. So while it may be novelty to have a Marine here, I can't do without you. I really can't. I'll close on that. Somebody's going to do a question or two, and then we'll go play golf. [Applause.]

Moderator: I've got a couple of questions. As the nation's top ISR warfighter do you see a need to more effectively integrate HUMINT with electronic sources of intelligence? And is this more of a question of technologies or just organization or both?

General Cartwright: So the question is integrating HUMINT into the rest of the ISR architecture. I feel like probably towards the end of the 2nd World War we walked away from HUMINT and we are trying to recover. We are recovering HUMINTers right now. I had another life, as all of us do, in the Joint Staff and over the past three or four years of my time there we poured about $16 billion into revitalizing the HUMINT side of the equation. I

t's absolutely essential to start to understand the cultural aspects, get that capability back into the service. It is absolutely essential to be able to tie that and not have that behind some door where we cannot take advantage of it, though, and that's generally what will happen. I have a deputy commander for my intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance component who is a recovering F-16 pilot trying to live over at DIA, Major General Mark Welch.

The one thing that he and I have bonded on for sure, because I visit him regularly to make sure, is on the fifth floor of the DIAC at Bolling Air Force Base where DIA is housed, we have put an Ops Center for that component for this new construct called the Defense Joint Intelligence Operations Center for the DIA Ops Center and for the HUMINT Ops Center. I go about every two months, and we spent the last year building this. It's up and running now. Every time I would go there would be a new wall.

I'd drag General Welch out onto the floor and say I don't want that wall to be there when I come back. He'd tear it down and it would be some place else. We've now stood that organization up. There are no ciphered doors, there are no walls. The Director of National Intelligence collections people, DIA's people and ours are all there on the same floor on the same computer systems working together and it is really starting to produce and connect those dots. So yes, we absolutely have to do that and we're taking the steps to make sure that happens.

Moderator: You commented about the ICBM force briefly. How do you see us in conventional strike?

General Cartwright: The good news about this discussion is that we were allowed to do this in an unclassified forum through the last year. We're talking about trying to have conventional capabilities in the ballistic missile side of the equation. There has been a lot of debate about why and why not, but at the end of the day if it only takes Country X minutes to launch 10s, 20s, even 100s of tactical range operational or long range missiles and the best that we can do is take what has actually emerged to be a very good capability in missile defense but is not a shield, and put that against the problem with no offensive capability until we can close forces which generally takes us days, it's all over before we have an opportunity to deter. We have got to find an alternative to nuclear strike when nuclear is not appropriate. There are a lot of cases where nuclear is not appropriate.

The arguments that we hear, and if you do have a sense of humor you can watch how I get beat up in the press on this. But the arguments are ones of ambiguity. That was kind of the focus this last year. Not that we haven't worked our way through that with artillery, with tactical jets, with cruise missiles, with bombers, but somehow ICBMs are different and that's fair game. But let me take you back to the Cold War when we came up with a great idea called the Pershing and how much people loved those kinds of weapons being right up next to their border. It was totally unacceptable. So the question here is one, are there a reasonable set of targets for which a nuclear weapon is inappropriate and yet you need the response time of an ICBM? I think there was a launch in northern China just a week or so ago.

There's no bomber that would get to that site. Are we willing to trade here? Do we want to have a choice? I do believe passionately that we need to have this choice. What's interesting here is this is not a technical issue. Ten meters at 6,000 miles is not that hard. This is about choice and choice that this nation needs to make or not make. And that's the way we're teeing it up. We will be back. Are there ways to do it better than the short, what we're calling a hedge capability that we put against the sea-launched ballistic missiles? You bet. Is the R&D going on for a broader, better capability over time? You bet.

The biggest challenges that we have technically, heat management. We've got to figure out a way to do that. We'll get there. I'm not all that worried about that side of the equation. It will take us a while but we'll get there. Management of energy, management of maneuverability, endo- and exo-atmospheric. You bet. But when the energy sufficient to get the effect you want can be delivered by a conventional weapon and the alternative is not a plausible choice, you have no deterrent if you don't have a conventional capability. That's kind of where we're sitting right now. I'm a Marine. I'll be back on this one. They know I'm coming back.

Moderator: Sir, we talked about cyber operations. Do you see that as being joined together or integrated in a way more strongly than what we're seeing right now? Of course we're getting started, and you mentioned industry has challenges in this, we all do. Do you see us consolidating that effort or do you see us trying to parallel or integrate our service activities? General Cartwright: STRATCOM has three organizations that do this business right now. It's come out of the lessons that we've learned over the last two and a half years. One is called Net Warfare, and they are responsible for attack and reconnaissance. We have found that that skill is really one and the same. The second is JTF-GNO, Global Network Operations.

They defend and operate, and we've found that those skills tend to be pretty much the same skills. The third is the Joint Information Operations Warfare Center down at San Antonio. They have the electronic warfare piece of this and the three cognitive skills associated with information operations -- OpSec, strategic communications/PsyOp, and the military deception side of this equation. Those are coming together. They're under a common hat now. What we've got to start to understand and the challenge in the area that I certainly want to work with the service on is what skills are necessary?

What's the right sizing construct? How much of this do you need? Which of these ought to be embedded in let's call them maneuver forces? Which of them need to be held back and either work at the strategic level or work on problems that maybe the difference here is open and closed networks. We're starting to understand that and work our way through that. We're doing that in partnership with the services so that they can start to understand what the sizing construct is, what kind of investment it's going to take, what kind of people do we have to recruit to, and how are we going to integrate them into our forces? That is the work to be done over the next couple of years.

Moderator: Sir, thank you very much for an excellent presentation. It's great to have you.

(END)