Gen. John E. Hyten, commander of U.S. Strategic Command: Thank you, everybody, good morning.
I’ll tell you what, it is great to be back in Colorado. I’ve spent the entire week in Washington, D.C., most of it on Capitol Hill, so let me just reiterate, it is great to be back in Colorado.
I’ve been watching you guys from afar, you’ve been all over the press, all over the media, many news articles, and big news. A lot of people defining what the future needs to be. Congressman Rogers has ideas for a Space Corps, Space Force, A11 [Deputy Chief of Staff for Space] in the Air Staff ̶ significant international announcements.
But my favorite news article by far came out yesterday in The Atlantic. I don’t know if you saw it, but the headline was “America’s Space Commanders Rattle Their Lightsabers”. So let me just clarify a couple of things for The Atlantic.
Number one, as far as you know, we don’t have lightsabers yet, and if I did have my lightsaber, it would not rattle. I just want to make that clear.
I was trying to figure out how many times I’ve been to this Space Symposium, and I really can’t figure it out. I know I started coming here in the mid-1990s. I’ve had the pleasure and privilege of standing on this stage and talking to you guys multiple times, but it’s interesting to me that I stand on this stage today for the first time on this stage and space is not my top priority. I never thought that would actually be the case in the Air Force, but it can’t be my top priority because I’m the commander of U.S. Strategic Command, and U.S. Strategic Command has some pretty significant responsibilities outside of space.
But I want to point out the title of this briefing, because the title of the briefing has been seen elsewhere before, “Integrating and Normalizing Space for the Warfighter.” And the only point I’ll make on that is that ten years ago when that was used, the warfighter was the warfighter in theater. Today the warfighter is not only the warfighter in the theater, but is the warfighter in Air Force Space Command, in Army Space and Missile Defense Command, in the Navy. It is the space warfighters as well, and we always have to think about them as we go forward.
So let me talk about the legacy of U.S. Strategic Command because it’s important to set my remarks.
There is the legacy, “Peace is our Profession,” and there’s Curtis LeMay in the upper left corner. And if you want to know what’s intimidating about being the commander of U.S. Strategic Command, there are many things that are intimidating, but maybe one of the most intimidating things is to live in the house that Curtis LeMay lived in for nine years. To walk past the portrait of Curtis LeMay. You see the picture in the upper left-hand corner? That’s a very happy picture of Gen. LeMay, because the painting that is in the U.S. Strategic Command headquarters that has been there forever, that is right by the door to my office. Every day when I walk in, he looks so angry it just almost scares me to death every time I walk into my office, but it sets the tone for the day, the entire day.
Strategic Air Command was our legacy, but it’s not who we are. But the motto,” Peace is our Profession,” meant so much to me that we brought it back. If you come into U.S. Strategic Command today you will see that motto everywhere you go in the command, “Peace is our Profession,” because that’s what it is. That’s what we talk about.
But I also made a little bit of a modification to that famous picture there, because this is the legend of Curtis LeMay, and I have no idea whether it’s true but I’ve heard it so many times, I believe it’s true, so I’ll go ahead and pass it on. The legend is that when he approved the motto of Strategic Air Command, “Peace is our Profession,” he always said that there was a dot, dot, dot at the end, and so we’ve kind of put that dot, dot, dot at the end. And the dot, dot, dot at the end said we really want peace in this world, but if you go another direction, dot, dot, dot.
So as we think about what Strategic Command is today, just keep that in the back of your mind.
So the first thing I did when I got to U.S. Strategic Command, once I got my feet on the ground and understood the amazing 184,000 men and women that serve under that command every day around the world, is I wanted to establish my vision and intent and publish it so that everybody in my command can read it. It’s an unclassified document. You can pull it up on our website and read it if you want. But I feel that it’s the responsibility of the commander to tell everybody in the command what I think about our business.
I always try to put it into a small number of terms, and those terms go as follows. My three priorities are:
Number one: above all else, we will provide strategic deterrence. It almost goes without saying, the role of nuclear weapons in our arsenal is to prevent the use of nuclear weapons on our country. But strategic deterrence in the 21st century is much broader than that discussion. It is still based on our nuclear weapons, but it revolves around everything that we do.
And it’s followed up by the second priority, which is, if deterrence fails, we’ll be prepared to deliver a decisive response. And when I say that in front of an audience, the audience immediately goes to nuclear weapons and that is the decisive response that’s the ultimate backstop of everything that we do.
But the response is so much more in the U.S. Strategic Command portfolio right now. If you want to find the legacy of Strategic Air Command, don’t come to Offutt Air Force Base. Don’t come to Omaha, Nebraska. You need to go to Bossier City, Louisiana. Go to Barksdale Air Force Base, to Air Force Global Strike Command. That’s where you’ll find the legacy of Strategic Air Command. In fact you’ll find Gen. Curtis LeMay’s desk and General Robin Rand will be sitting behind it, because that’s where the Air Force integrates bombers and ICBMs now.
And if you think about what the period of 1954 to 1964 was like, in 1954 we had zero B-52 bombers. By 1964 we had 744 B-52 bombers. Gen. Schriever came along in the late 1950s and started building the ICBM. By the end of the decade, 1,200 ICBMs were on alert, 31,000 nuclear weapons.
Think about those numbers, 744 nuclear bombers, the B-52, still around, 1,200 ICBMs. The nuclear submarine force with Admiral Rickover came along at the same time, 31,000 nuclear weapons in our inventory. That was the decisive response back then.
Decisive response today is different.
Then my third priority: our force must be resilient, equipped, trained and combat ready. Because the fundamental power of this nation, the power of this nation and our allies is our people, and I’ve had the opportunity to travel around the command and see our people in action. I know the space business very well, but I tell you what, the nuclear business amazed me because when it wasn’t Air Force Space Command and it was transitioned out, I’ll just say the morale in a lot of the missile field was not very high. The morale is very high again. People are understanding the importance of what they do. They’re excited about that business. It’s amazing to see the people that we have, but our job is to make sure they always have the capabilities they need in order to do their jobs. Enthusiasm only goes as far as the equipment they have to operate. One of our jobs is to make sure they have that equipment.
Now if you want to see U.S. Strategic Command, because these are the seven missions in the Unified Command Plan that U.S. Strategic Command has to operate.
Certainly nuclear weapons and the nuclear capability up in the left-hand corner on the left side of that chart are the primary piece of the puzzle. By this time next year we’ll have 1,550 deployed nuclear weapons, wholly different than 31,000, but still an enormous power base.
Our global strike capabilities were demonstrated just recently as we went to Libya with two B-2s, attacking 84 separate terrorist targets with 84 different GPS weapons, all targeted on the way from Whiteman to Libya, 32 hour mission on the way back. That is global strike.
Analyzing targets through the Joint Warfare Analysis Center at Dahlgren, Virginia, cyber capabilities to the U.S. Cyber Command; or missile defense capabilities through the Joint Functional Component Command for Integrated Missile Defense; and space operations, right there in the middle.
The interesting thing about space operations, why I put it right there in the middle, yes, it’s a Space Symposium so I’ve got to put it right there in the middle, but if you think about it and think about what space does for every mission on that chart. Just think about it. The nuclear mission cannot be executed without space. It fundamentally starts with warning. It starts with the nuclear command and control architecture that allows me to talk to the President anytime, anywhere that I need to talk to the President of the United States. If I had to do it right now, I wouldn’t do it from the stage, but I could do it from right here if I had to. The ability to do global strike, that mission that I just described into Libya, is impossible without space. The cyber mission, tied to space every way you look at it. The missile defense mission, critically dependent on space, again, every operation that we do is critically dependent on space operations. So space operations is not my number one priority, the nuclear side is. But it is still my passion and I care deeply about it, and I watch very closely, what all of the services are doing. I watch very closely what the United States Air Force is doing. The great thing about Gen. Raymond is he has a boss at U.S. Strategic Command that cares passionately about the space business. The bad news about Gen. Raymond is he has a boss at U.S. Strategic Command that cares passionately about the space business. But that’s what we do, it is an amazing command, and space is fully integrated in everything that we do.
So let’s talk about some of the things that are going on in space.
Integrating space. Integrating space really starts still at Vandenberg in the Joint Space Operations Center. That’s where the integration comes from.
The picture that you see there is Global Sentinel 2016, an exercise that was done back in Langley, Virginia, with multinational partners looking at how we do space situational awareness in the future. And the interesting thing that we discovered as we walked through that and, and that’s Squadron Leader Disley, and a major from the J5 [Plans and Policy Directorate] at STRATCOM that are talking about space situational awareness and how do we do that.
What we learned from all the allies is that as powerful as our capabilities are, we actually don’t know everything. In order to get that capability we actually need to work with each other and share that information. Space situation awareness is probably one of the most important elements of sharing with our allies and figuring out from an international perspective how we can do that. And if you see the bottom pieces as you come together, there’s huge things going on in the international perspective.
In the middle there, the Multinational Space Collaboration piece. That’s an effort. Because the JSpOC right now, you can see the JSpOC logo there at the bottom, the Joint Space Operations Centers, that has really been a United States plus our Five Eye partners, that’s Australia, United Kingdom, New Zealand, Canada and us. That’s kind of been where the JSpOC is. But when we look at space, we understand it’s a much broader issue than that, so we’re reaching out to our allies, many of whom are sitting here in the front row, and we’re starting to put together a program called Multinational Space Collaboration, MSC for short. And the first partner, we’ve been negotiating with them for about six months now. We’ve almost reached the agreement. We’ll sign it hopefully very soon, and when we sign that agreement we hope to have a German liaison officer in the JSpOC working side by side with us, hopefully this summer. And then we’re reaching out to a number of other very close allies, again, they’ll be on the panel that’s up next. You can ask them questions about that, but I think we’re all very excited about the opportunities that we saw at Global Sentinel 2016, that we see the potential in Multinational Space Cooperation, to pull those kind of pieces together.
The Schriever War Game that’s been going around for over a decade now. I think I’ve been involved in every one, but this year it was very interesting. We put up a wargame at Maxwell in the spring time, Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama, at the Air University in their wargaming center, and it was the United States with a number of our partner combatant commands. We had European Command, Pacific Command, Northern Command, STRATCOM, JFCC Space the Joint Functional Component Command for Space, all playing. But we also had our Five Eye partners and we also had France and Germany. We put a very straightforward scenario on the table, and the interesting thing from my perspective is how that very straightforward scenario created significant discussions about what do we actually do with this problem in the future? How do we deal with the conflict that could extend into space in the future? How do we avoid that conflict extending into space? And if you notice, I’ve said it a hundred times. There’s no such thing as war in space, there’s just war.
The goal is to prevent conflict from going into space. But if conflict does go into space we have to figure out with our allies what we’re going to do about it. How do we solve those problems together? We started walking down that. And we got to a point where we really didn’t have the answers we needed when we finished the wargame. And so we kind of looked at each other, we sent each other letters, which is what you do after a wargame. They’re all very nice. I enjoyed all your letters. I hope you enjoyed mine. But what we also realized is we need to get together again, and kind of finish this discussion. We decided we would go to Garmisch, Germany, in the fall where we’d all get together again and kind of play the next piece out, and kind of say all right, if this does face us in the future, what do we do? And we came to some very important conclusions for all our nations, but what we realized, this is the most international force.
The Commercial Integration Cell, you see the six companies listed there. One of the things I asked the Senate yesterday was for some help in legislation that would help us to more effectively deal with the Commercial Integration Cell. Because the Commercial Integration Cell, we’ve brought them into the Joint Space Operations Center, but they come in on their own dime. Each of those companies has a need for more situational awareness of what is going on. They have a need, just like our allies do, to understand what’s going on in space because we don’t want bad things to happen. We want to make sure that we can effectively operate together in that environment. So they come on their own dime, but when we don’t have a contractual relationship that makes security classification and information sharing very very difficult because the law really doesn’t allow that. So yesterday I asked the Senate for some help with that. We’re going to be working with the Senate Armed Services Committee staff on some potential support for those kind of pieces going on because that is a very important piece.
So you look at that in total, just look at the integration that’s happened on the commercial side, the international side. Understanding what we have to do in these difficult times.
Then you see amazing space situation awareness sharing agreements that we’ve signed. We’ve signed 75 agreements now: thirteen nations, two multinational intergovernmental organizations, and 60 commercial entities we’ve signed SSA [space situational awareness] agreements with. And just this week, Tuesday of this week, go ahead and build the chart, we signed the latest, the 13th, the 75th agreement with Norway. We very much appreciate that partnership with Norway. I want to see this collage of flags, this set of agreements continue to grow because to me it’s so important that we operate safely in space as we go forward in the future. I want to see this expand, ideally, to every nation in the world. I think it is the responsibility of every nation to operate safely, every nation in the world. And yes, that includes Russia and China.
We need to be able to operate here together, and in order to do that, we have to effectively share information.
So I was going to announce the JICSpOC name change. That kind of went by the wayside, but the JICSpOC, the Joint Interagency Combined Space Operations Center. You know the biggest problem with that name? Nobody knew what the heck it meant. It was kind of created so that it had everything in it, joint, interagency, combined, space, and ops. It had everything in it. So if it had everything in it, everybody had to be happy. But you know if you name something and it actually is not what it does, boy, you only confuse the world. And so, go ahead and build it out. We named it the National Space Defense Center, and the reason that it was [not] announced before now is that one of the first things I have to do is I have to notify Congress and so I had to send a letter to Congress. So I sent a letter to Congress and then I had testimony this week in front of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and I got a question about the letter I sent to Congress. So I had to say, yes, we changed it to the National Space Defense Center, and then everything just kind of came from there. But it’s a really important change. You think the names are simple, but it describes exactly what it is.
There’s 42 people assigned to it right now. There will be 200 shortly. National, because it is across everything that we do in the United States of America. Space defense, because that is what it is focused on. It’s not focused on the rest of the space mission. It’s not focused on all the other pieces. And it’s a center, it’s a center where we do some amazing experimentation, amazing learning, and amazing development and effectively provide information to all of the space elements of the United States. The intelligence community, the National Reconnaissance Office, the Department of Defense, everybody is in the room, everybody shares information, and we take appropriate action if we ever see a threat scenario. That’s why we have it.
So, normalizing space. One of my continuing efforts is to make sure that space is not treated as special. Every time we treat space as something special we create a classification that is way too high, authorities that are way too high. It really ties our hand in being able to do things the right way, so we’re trying to do things that just basically say space is a domain and it is special. When I grew up in it, I loved it, and I still love looking up at the stars and imagining what we could do. But fundamentally, our job is to defend the nation. And one of the elements, one of the domains we defend the nation in is space. And so we need to treat it like a normal domain where we do operations.
So we have a Joint Space Warfighting Forum. It used to be the Joint Space Doctrine and Tactics Forum. Again, names are really important, words are important to people. So when you label something the Joint Space Doctrine and Tactics Forum, and you get together and you meet all the time, what do you think you talk about? Doctrine and tactics, because that’s the, but that’s not what we wanted to talk about. We wanted to talk about warfighting. We wanted to talk about what do we have to think about as we go to the future? What do we have to think about with our allies? What do we have to think about in terms of the entire world situation? That’s why the Joint Space Warfighting Forum will be the place that we do that.
You see [U.S. Navy] Cmdr. Greg Arnold over there on the left. Cmdr. Greg Arnold, member of the U.S. Strategic Command. There’s many authors of the new Joint Publication 3-14 on Space Operations and Joint Doctrine for Space Operations. But the principal author is Cmdr. Arnold. What’s Cmdr. Arnold’s space bonafides? He’s a Navy helicopter pilot. Why the heck did we choose a Navy helicopter pilot to write joint doctrine? Because he looks at it just like any other problem. He doesn’t look at it as special. He doesn’t say we need special, when he sees authorities that are laid down in the space side and it doesn’t make any sense to him, he says, why are you doing that? It doesn’t make any sense. And we look at it and say, well that’s a good question. So he just looks at it from a completely different perspective.
But the interesting thing about the new Joint Doctrine that’s about to be published is that the day it is published, it will be out of date again. Because this domain is moving faster than any other domain right now. It is changing every day. We’re learning in the National Space Defense Center every day. We’re learning in the JSpOC every day. We’re learning in Schriever Wargames. We’re learning in the multinational environments, we have to go right now. It’s changing so rapidly. Our relationships are changing. This is something we have to always look at. But the doctrine, from where we start, is the warfighting perspective, has always got to be there.
Then the WARSOC Construct. The WARSOC Construct is fairly simple. It’s warfighting, it’s an embedded acronym, Laura will love this. My wife hates acronyms. So it’s the Warfighting Satcom Optimization Concept. Isn’t that awesome? The Warfighting Satcom, Satellite Communications. The Warfighting Satellite Communications Optimization Concept, WARSOC. All that is, the industry partners that built WGS [Wideband Global SATCOM] and built a number of our capabilities, you in here will understand. We built some amazing warfighting capability in those systems. We did amazing anti-jam capabilities. Amazing ability to actually effectively shape the beam. Effective abilities to do amazing things with those satellites, and we don’t do anything with them today. We operate almost like they’re DSCS, the old Defense Satellite Communication Systems. We have the ability to fundamentally look at it differently. We’re developing new tactics, techniques and procedures to work with DISA [Defense Information Systems Agency], to work with the joint community, and we’re going to work with Pacific Command and their exercise, Talisman Saber. With the Australians in specific, because the Australians, if you remember, they bought WGS-6, so they’re our closest partner. But we also have a number of allies that are participating in WGS. How do we actually effectively use those satellites in a jamming environment to continue to be able to operate? And we can do that. We just have to think about it differently.
So this is what we’re doing, integration, normalizing the space of the warfighter, pushing authorities down, and reclassifying things. When we started in the space business, and I, sadly I’m old enough to remember the early days of the space business. When we started down this, everything was minimum Secret NOFORN [Not releasable to foreign nationals/governments/non-U.S. citizens]. Look at the folks that we have in this room. Secret NOFORN is an impediment to our ability to conduct operations. And we just slapped NOFORN on everything because that’s what we always did. We fundamentally have to change that, and Air Force Space Command has started down that path. We have to look across our entire piece.
We have so many capabilities now that are only special classifications that we can’t talk about, and if you look at those capabilities you wonder why are they classified so high? So we’re going to push those down. We’re going to get back to authorities in the right place so we can execute. We’re going to treat space as any other warfighting domain and make decisions accordingly because of that. We’re going to make sure we do this right, because fundamentally, that’s our job. Our job is to make sure that war never extends into space. Our job is to remember there’s no such thing as war in space, and our job is to prevent it from moving into space, if at all possible. And remember, there’s three things that I have to do at U.S. Strategic Commander in space.
Number one is to defend the nation, and I do that by providing space capabilities on the ground and defending space against hostile activities.
Number two, I have to defend the environment of space so that future generations of Americans and citizens around the world can look up in space and dream and still be able to transit out and do amazing things throughout the universe.
Two huge jobs.
That goes back to fundamentally what I started with. Peace is our Profession. That’s what we want, but always remember the dot, dot, dot.
Thank you very much. I look forward to your questions.
Moderator: Gen. Hyten, given events of recent weeks and our renewed focus on strategic deterrence strategies vis-à-vis developing threats to our national security, can you provide some comments on the priority you would place on improving U.S. indications and warning, particularly missile warning and battle space awareness capabilities, as essential capability set to inform and shape a deterrence strategy and the development of a credible response.
That’s not a testimony question, but it sounds like it.
General Hyten: That does sound like a testimony question.
The interesting thing about that question is that it actually goes into the fundamental problem of any military problem. Any military problem starts with, do you know what’s going on? If you don’t know what’s going on as a military officer, a military leader, you have no idea how to respond to it. It’s really that simple.
So when you talk about space situational awareness that we’ve been talking about for a while, why is that such a priority? It’s such a priority because if you don’t know what’s going on and you can’t attribute actions to an adversary, you don’t know what to do. Your nation’s, your hands are tied.
So when it comes to strategic deterrence, indications and warning is a critical element. It starts with missile warning. Look at our missile warning capabilities. They’re remarkable, but they’re also few and they’re fairly vulnerable. They need to be modernized so that we can fight through any kind of threat environment in the future, and any potential adversary that would want to take them on would know that any action they take will fail.
Then we have certain threats that are emerging that are very challenging threats for us. Hypersonic glide vehicles being pursued by Russia and China. We have cruise missiles. Cruise missiles being pursued. Not just air-launched cruise missiles now, but Russia has recently reported a ground-launched cruise missile. They provide very significant problems from an indications and warning side. We have to go back and look at those problems and figure out in coordination with the Missile Defense Agency and Gen. Greaves is up here in the front. He’s going to move to a really great job. We’re going to work together on that.
But the whole thing starts with indications and warning, then the next fundamental piece is can I communicate that indication and warning to the President of the United States and the people that need to make a decision? That’s where it all starts, and we can never forget that.
Moderator: Thank you, sir.
You spoke earlier about the importance of coalition partners and the like. What role do you see for NATO in space?
General Hyten: NATO is an interesting thing. Everybody always talks about NATO as a single entity. Like NATO does this, NATO does that. NATO is an alliance. Always remember, it’s an alliance. But it’s an alliance of multiple nations all that have different constructs.
So I think we have to do two things. Number one, we have to work with the nations inside the NATO alliance, many of whom are seated here in the front row. And have discussions with them on a bilateral and multinational perspective of what we need to do in space. And then we need to move into the NATO alliance on a broad-based perspective with our partners to say this is what we need to do in space.
Now NATO has formed space cells where they’re looking at space problems inside the NATO alliance and that’s important, and STRATCOM will continue to reach out to NATO to work with the NATO alliance on that. But I think you have to do it from two perspectives. One inside the alliance; and second, from the member nations who are partnered with us in all the initiatives that I just described before, because they help, with the United States, build the partnerships in NATO. And that’s what we have to do as we look forward, from our partners, and within the NATO alliance.
Moderator: Thank you, sir.
Last question. Given the remarks from Chairman Rogers yesterday, and the recent events and decisions surrounding U.S. Cyber Command, do you believe space may follow that path and become a sub-unified command, putting more focus on that mission? I know you said it’s not special, but --
General Hyten: So, two things about that. Number one, I’m very passionate about space. I have some pretty strong opinions. So I’ll just go back to history. I thought it was a mistake when the United States got rid of a unified Space Command in 2002. I thought that was a mistake that we would go back and look at and say I think we made a mistake.
Nonetheless, we put space inside of Strategic Command. And now we’re integrating multiple capabilities inside Strategic Command. The power you get from that integration is hugely important. And when you think about strategic deterrence as a concept, it is hard to imagine strategic deterrence in the 21st century without including space.
So I think there are options as you go forward in the future, but the most important thing we have to do in space is deal with the threat. We have to deal with the threat, and that has to be all our focus. And the only concern I have with all the reorganization discussions, and I’ve had this conversation with Congressman Rogers, is that, and I think there is reorganization that is wanted and needed and I applaud the standup of the A11 inside the Air Force. There’s more that needs to be done. But the most important thing that we have to do is actually prepare for conflict that may extend into space. If we get distracted by organizational reorganization, which I’ve watched us spend years and years reorganizing things, and all of a sudden we look back and we really haven’t done anything the last few years. We have to make sure we never make that mistake again.
But I’m not pushing back against the sub-unified command. I’m not pushing back against that structure. I think we need to have that debate. But it’s a lesser debate on what we, over the issues that we have to take care of on the threat.