2010 Space Symposium - Opening Remarks

By General Kevin P. Chilton | Omaha, Neb. | Nov. 2, 2010

General Chilton: Good morning everyone, how are you this morning?

Voice: Hooah.

General Chilton: I heard a hooah, how about the rest of you? [Laughter]. Good.

John, you can get a crowd fired up. You've got my heart beating.

I want to add my compliments to that choir, I'll tell you it about brought me to tears. And the Honor Guard. It is about the future. When you see those young men and women standing up here so proudly and so professionally and you hear those voices, it sent chills up and down my spine. It is a great way to start the day.

I'll tell you, when you have the Governor come to your symposium on election day, that says something. We just enjoy so much support here at U.S. Strategic Command from the state level, obviously, from Omaha, from our hometown of Bellevue, near Offutt Air Force Base. We are just so blessed here with the great community relations we have and support we have for our command.

General Dubia, thanks for the kind introduction. I might have to correct you on something, though. You're saying that I was part of the future and all this because I was an astronaut. I'll tell you, it's one thing to go by a museum and see an F-4 in there with a tail number and look at it and go you know, I flew that thing and now it's a museum piece. It's something completely different when they start retiring your spaceship and putting it in museums. [Laughter]. I'm not so sure about that future, but I know it's started to make me feel a little achy in the joints as I contemplate the retirement of the space shuttle coming up here next year. But that was certainly a fun part of my career.

I'll tell you, not nearly as fun, though, as being in command of United States Strategic Command. The men and women in this command, their dedication, and the variety of missions that we have in this command just makes it so exciting to get out of bed every morning and come to work, and knowing why we do that. Knowing that we are focused on global security for America. That's why we come to work every morning at U.S. Strategic Command, across all our mission areas, to try to provide and improve global security for the United States of America. It's been a true joy to be a team player, a player-coach, as you said, John. It's just been a wonderful experience for me.

I want to thank AFCEA and all our commercial organizers. A very special warm welcome and thanks to our allied partners. We had a gathering at breakfast this morning, just a tremendous turnout.

I'll tell you, this was part of my vision for the space symposium. It's my vision for the Deterrence and Cyber Symposium as well -- to expand the participation, expand the invitation and welcome to our international partners. Because in all of these areas I think we will benefit from closer relationships, from closer partnerships. We'll improve security for all of our nations, the closer we can work together. So a very very warm welcome to all our friends and allies who have traveled so far to be a part of the next couple of days.

The Qwest Center always puts on a great venue for us, so I want to thank them as well, as well as all the other members of the command, the headquarters that help pulled this together. A special thanks to you, though, Jerry, and the J-9 team who has honchoed this symposium to a new height this year. Thanks very much for all the hard work that your team's put together.

These symposiums are world class events that allow us to showcase the command space line of operation and increase the intellectual capital across STRATCOM, the Department of Defense, U.S. government, industry, and academia, and to promote freedom and global security.

I believe that open dialogue and free exchange and sharing of ideas are important aspects to not only help us identify problems that we don't even know exist, perhaps, but also to help solve those difficult problems. I'm glad we can continue this open dialogue at a time when we need it to address issues in space that affect not only the U.S., but also our partners. All space-faring nations, for that matter. I'm pleased that such a large and talented group of space experts is assembled here from very diverse backgrounds to include the spectrum of military, government, industry and academia.

Over the next two days we'll be discussing some of the critical issues facing us. The issues we face today, but also looking to the future.

So welcome to all of you here in the audience as well as our panelists and our speakers, as we focus on our theme of “Conducting military space operations -- advancing from today to tomorrow.”

We've got some great keynote speakers throughout the next couple of days I'd like to highlight. The Honorable William Lynn, Deputy Secretary of Defense, will close out the symposium tomorrow and I very much look forward to his remarks. Frank Rose, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Verification, Compliance and Implementation from the State Department. We're very fortunate to have him with us. Lieutenant General Larry James, my commander for our Joint Functional Component Command for Space out at Vandenberg Air Force Base. And Brigadier General Arnaud of the French Air Force, Commander of the new Joint Space Command in France.

We have some tremendous topics that our panelists will be discussing that I think you'll find very interesting as we go forward today.

Plenty has happened since we last gathered about a year ago here in Omaha. It's been an extremely busy year for United States Strategic Command, but even more importantly, it's been very significant and a productive year policy wise for our nation and for the Department of Defense.

We've been involved at STRATCOM in a number of seminal projects this past year, and key policy documents. We've received -- participating in this we've received the fruits of that work in the form of policy guidance that's come back from our civilian leadership. In particular affecting us at STRATCOM has been the work done on the Nuclear Posture Review, and the work done on the START follow-on treaty with the Russians, and of course the National Space Policy.

You might say why do we care so much at this Space Symposium about the Nuclear Posture Review? Well, it not only reaffirmed the need for the nuclear deterrent and the nuclear triad, but in doing so it also reaffirmed the need for a lot of the things that we do in space at U.S. Strategic Command.

When you think about the U.S. deterrent, I think about five elements, and there are probably a lot more than this, but five fundamental elements that are required to provide the deterrent. Of course the deterrent is based on capability and will. The will is provided by our national leaders. But the five capability pieces -- you must be able to warn of an attack, you must be able to tell the President and answer the first question he's likely to ask, and that is who did this. So you must be able to attribute attack. You must be able to assure yourselves and any potential adversaries that even in the worst of circumstances you will be able to command and control your retaliatory forces. And you must have retaliatory forces -- missiles, submarines, bomber aircraft, and of course weapons.

Three of the five of those are directly dependent upon the space domain and assets that United States Strategic Command provides.

Warning. Our DSP satellites are absolutely critical to the warning mission. Our ground-based radars are absolutely critical to the warning mission.

Attribution. Again, DSP (Defense Support Program) and SBIRS (Space-Based Infrared System)to follow will provide that continued early warning and attribution that is absolutely essential to our deterrent.

In the area of command and control. Assured command and control, not only in peace time but on the most unimaginable day is provided, one leg of that assured command and control is provided by our space assets. Today MILSTAR (Military Strategic and Tactical Relay) tomorrow AEHF(Advanced Extremely High Frequency).

For other support, to conferencing and support to the presence. Our DSCS (Defense Satellite Communication System) satellites today our WGS (Wideband Global SATCOM system) satellites tomorrow.

All absolutely essential to the deterrent, all tied back to the Nuclear Posture Review and the work we did there.

And you think about the work done on the START Treaty, probably one of the most important sections of that treaty has to do with verification. There are a lot of exchanges of data, there are a lot of visits that are agreed to should the treaty be ratified between Russia and the United States for physical inspections. But underlying all of that, always, will be the need for overhead reconnaissance and the verification that comes through our national assets that are provided in space by our intelligence community.

That's an absolutely critical part of that treaty – verification. And of course we have a role here at U.S. Strategic Command in making sure that domain is hospitable and available to do just that sort of work.

Third, the National Space Policy. This is an easy one to find the link to, and certainly probably the greatest interest of us all here today.

The National Space Policy, the latest version, was issued in June of this year and it underscores and restates previous U.S. objectives and principles in space, and outlining the overall goals for the peaceful use of and application of space by all space-faring nations. It's a forward looking document that bears close examination here, particularly as we begin our discussion over the next couple of days.

Some of the key messages that I just pulled from this, and this is not all of the key messages but a few that I thought I'd highlight this morning from the policy, include that the U.S. remains committed to the use of space systems in support of its national and homeland security and will develop means to assure mission essential functions enabled by space.

A second point, consistent with the inherent right of self defense, the U.S. will deter others from interference and attack, defend our space systems, and contribute to the defense of allied space systems. And if deterrence fails, defeat efforts to attack those systems.

Additionally, the U.S. will advocate for viable space situational awareness solutions. I can't tell you how pleased I am to see that in a policy document. This is something that we in the space community have been advocating for for the last ten years at least.

First principles. First principles in any domain. The first thing any commander wants to know -- what's on the other side of the hill, what's beyond visual range, what's holed down over the horizon, what's going on in my area of responsibility and operation? To hear the call out for the advocacy of space situational awareness solutions I think is a great thing in this policy.

The last point that I'll point out was the U.S. will pursue bilateral and multilateral transparency and confidence-building measures to encourage responsible actions in space.

Now the first two points on the commitment to the use of space systems in support of our security and the right of self defense. These two messages encourage us to focus on our symposium theme today of conducting military space operations because ultimately at STRATCOM we are focused on ensuring the use of space and space resources for supported forces and combatant commands around the world, whether they be regional geographic combatant commanders or functional commanders.

At this symposium we'll be addressing aspects of these issues and topics that include space situational awareness, my favorite; debris management; and mitigation strategies. International cooperation, furthering U.S. national space policy, current, future operations and collaboration efforts, ways to advance those. And how we can better deliver assured combat power to the joint force. This should be plenty of grist for us to examine and study and expand our minds upon.

Last year at this symposium I laid out, I think it was in November so Christmas was on my mind, so I laid out a few Christmas wish list items that I felt were very important for the United States to advance the art of our business in space. And so I thought it might be appropriate today to review that list, and like any young child who looks to the future, maybe add a little bit to it.

First of all last year I asked for improvement in space situational awareness. My thought here is we have made a lot of progress in this area, but we cannot take our eye off the ball. We need to sustain the pressure and support for improvements in SSA. There are a lot of programs, I'll list a few of them here, that give me great encouragement. But this is an area that we cannot say we're done in completing the mission assigned. There's so much more for us to do so we need to continue to keep the pressure on in this area.

Some great good news stories here with regard to SSA that I'd like to highlight. We're seeing continued investment in the sensors that we have in place around the world, our ground-based radars and our electro-optical systems. We cannot forget as we look to new technologies in the future that we need to sustain these fundamental capabilities that we have today, if for no other reason, in the radar business they are dual purpose and support our missile defense and missile warning mission sets, but they're absolutely critical for the space surveillance and situational awareness missions as well.

I think there's a great news story here with the launch of space-based space surveillance satellite this past year. That's new since our last symposium.

We learned almost by accident the benefits of a space-based space surveillance system through the SBX MSX program back in the 1990s, and some visionaries understood and captured the advantage of that and designed and built a satellite that is now dedicated to this particular mission set. It's great to see it finally on orbit and I look forward to the benefit that it will provide us with regard to our awareness of what's going on in the very critical domain at the geosynchronous belt.

The space fence continues to get support in the budget and it's important that we continue to keep the pressure on here. The space fence that exists today running across the United States of America is old and tired and unsupportable in the long term. And the technologies that are being advanced for the follow-on space fence will give us enhanced capability, better resolution, a higher, longer reach to examine a critical area of orbit, low earth orbit, which we all know is being more and more challenged by debris and certainly would be a challenged domain in part of the environment in any potential future conflict.

The JMS program which is a big investment in the capabilities that General James needs out at the JSpOC (Joint Space Operations Center) in Vandenberg Air Force Base, to allow him to have the tools to fuse the data that we're collecting from all these sensors and present them in a fashion that helps make the commander and the people at that center better able to make decisions. Today that fusion is accomplished by the shuffling of PowerPoint charts, and then asking General James to do it between his two ears. We can do so much better than that. We have done so much better than that in other domains, and we need to continue the emphasis on providing our operational level of warfare space operators the tools they need – the appropriate tools they need to do their jobs.

A couple of other satellites that are on orbit this year that we can talk about, the STSS satellites that were launched by the Missile Defense Agency. Of course their dedicated missions and their technologies to be checked out to see how they can better support mid-course tracking for the missile defense business. But I would remind us that we must, in these days of pressing budgets and scarce resources, we must always be looking for opportunities to use sensors for more than one single mission set. And just as we use our ground-based radars today to provide early warning and tracking for potential threats from regional or intercontinental ballistic missiles, we use those same radars, 99.99 percent of the time to surveil the heavens. We need to consider that the SCS and whatever would follow on and field from that could also be a dramatic contributor to space situational awareness.

Lastly in this area I want to give some kudos to the JFCC Space team who over the last year since we last met picked up the space situational awareness sharing mission and have absolutely stepped up and done a tremendous job in doing the conjunction analysis for approximately a thousand active satellites versus up to about 22,000 pieces of debris in orbit today. And as a result of that, have provided vital information not only to our military satellite users in the United States, to friends and allies, commercial companies, et cetera, to help mitigate the risk of collision between satellites and other satellites, satellites and debris which we know those types of collisions will help no one out in this particular domain. It is in all our best interests. So in that area I think there's great progress. There's more we can do to give General James the tools and expertise he needs so they're not working quite as hard as they're having to work to do this mission, but it is a big step forward.

The second thing on my list last year was a call for more robust and resilient constellations, particularly what I would call our critical military constellations, and I'm hard-pressed to find one that isn't.

I can be a little patient on this because I know we cannot fix this problem overnight, but we need to keep talking about it. We need to keep reminding ourselves of how important these constellations are to warfighters around the world and how important they are not only to the national security of our country from a military perspective, but certainly in the case of the GPS constellation how important they are to the economy of the United States of America and so many other nations around the world.

We need to be able to achieve this, I believe, some adjustments and improvements need to be made in our acquisition business. I think that's clearly recognized by all. We can't promise the delivery of a system based on the predicted demise of a current constellation and deliver it three and four years later than we promised. If we set up a system that does that and that becomes the acceptable norm, then we're betting on the come that those earlier satellites that we put up are going to last longer than they were designed for. And although we have a pretty good track record of that, when you consider how important these constellations are I don't think it's a prudent way to move forward.

Someone asked me the other day what might be a good metric for resilience? Well, in peacetime, I would just propose for consideration perhaps we should be able to sustain a single launch failure and still support the constellation and still support the mission set. As just a going-in starting position. If we ever get to the point, I would argue, where you can't do that, then we're demanding 100 percent success from our launch operators, our launch designers.

In my experience, my personal experience in this business is that although we're good, we're not perfect. When it comes to the criticality of some of these constellations we demand enough resiliency to make sure that on those days in the future where perhaps we aren't exactly perfect in the launch business, we still have the critical capabilities on orbit and can sustain those to support this nation.

It begs the question, though, what would be the metrics and criteria for resiliency in time of conflict? We know that this domain will become a contested domain in any future conflict, and so I think that's the work in front of us, to better understand and better define what we mean by resilience in a wartime environment, and this will be important information that we need to develop and think about to provide to not only industry but also to the general requirements process that needs to be scrutinized in the Department of Defense.

The third thing I asked for last year was an improvement in space modeling and simulation. An improvement in this area not only to support modeling and sim for engineering work in the broader acquisition area, which I think is vitally important, to answer some of the key questions of how many, what type of satellites, what's the right architecture, et cetera, that we need. But to have the modeling and sim that's available to support all the way down from the acquisition to the strategic to the operational to the tactical level of operations.

Our fighter pilots today in the Air Force can get in simulators, fight other fighter pilots in other simulators on the other side of the United States, and practice not only their current procedures but develop tactics, techniques and procedures for the future. They can adjust those simulations. They can put ground-based threats in to threaten those pilots. They can put new potential adversary air-to-air threats in to threaten those pilots and give them the opportunity to develop tactics. We need the same thing in the space business.

At the operational level of war General James needs to have simulations that would support the training of his operators at the operational level of war. So that they can do the what if's. So they can be thrown problems and exercise those. Not from a white card perspective, but where they can see real data and things adjusting on their screens and testing their ability to react, to take commanders' intent, to develop a plan, to execute that plan and assess its effectiveness.

At the strategic level, at U.S. Strategic Command we need the same level of modeling and simulation to support our major exercises so that we're not just white carding scenarios. We do this in just about every other domain. It's time that we step up and do this in this particular domain as well. I'm encouraged by the activities that the Chief of Staff of the Air Force has initiated in this particular area.

When we talked about this shortfall with him last year he immediately turned to his A-9 in Washington and asked him to begin working this problem. We're taking the very first steps to be able to do this. We need to continue to press forward in this particular area, and it's not just the Air Force. The United States Army has great Soldiers operating the payload on our WGS and DSCS satellites today. What are their training tools like? How can they be presented problems with not having to do the work on the actual console that's actually flying the real satellite?

How about our great sailors who are operating the UFO (Ultra High Frequency Follow-on Satellite) constellation, our UHF constellation and will follow on with the MUOS (Mobile User Objective System) constellation? What are the training tools they have?

How do we integrate all those tools together to allow us to understand and fight in this complex domain, prepare to fight in this complex domain as a joint team in the future?

Underlying all this is a requirement for adequate modeling and simulation and we need to continue to press and ask for this, we need to continue to demand this as we move the ball forward, improving our ability to do our business in U.S. Strategic Command and with our service components.

Okay, Santa, that's the same three you heard last year, so here's my new one.

I'm going to shift a little bit to the intelligence area. I touched on it before, but I want to emphasize it again this year. I think we need an improved focus and improved attention applied, and by this I mean increased resources to include analysts, et cetera, in the area of intelligence, development of intelligence and analysis to support the space mission.

I'd like to see changes in our approach to the support for space from the foundational side of how we train our intelligence officers for the future, and enlisted, to include all the way through how we develop them, promote them, and give them opportunities in the future to grow professionally in the intelligence career field.

I think one of the things that might need to change, that might be a bit foundational in transformation is the organizational culture. And by this I mean there needs to be a demand function, and much of this is dependent upon us in this room, a demand function, a signal needs to be put out there that we need help in this area.

We all have talked about how huge the space intelligence infrastructure was during the Cold War, how much it drew down in the 1990s and how as we look at the Cold War, a single adversary in the Soviet Union, and look at today the tremendous growth in space-faring nations and the potential for more than one country to perhaps challenge us in this domain. The drawdown just doesn't seem to make sense to any of us. Yet we need to be a little bit more specific about what it is we need.

Certainly in my service, when I reflect back in the late 1990s, we spent an incredible amount of time working the intelligence side of find, fix, target, track and kill. The near real time kill chain. The intelligence piece of that was worked very hard and that was incredibly important to us and I think we've gotten pretty good at it.

Today I think if you were to step back and look at where our focus is, it's probably the support of remotely piloted aircraft and how we have streamlined and continue to work to streamline the intelligence support to our operations both in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Now these two mission areas are still incredibly important to the joint fight, so I'm not proposing an either/or approach to this, but I am proposing that perhaps we can look at our space requirements for intelligence a little more closely and look at opportunities to not only increase the resources we put there but perhaps share and better utilize the resources we have.

In the career fields, we need to ask our services who train our intelligence officers and enlisted how much time are they teaching in their schools, spending with regard to training them for the expertise and knowledge they will need to be good space analysts. It can't just be all on the job training if we're really serious about growing intelligence professionals in this particular field.

Once we've trained them and assigned them to duties, we need to make sure the personnel systems are tracking them so when we need them we can bring them back or that we can grow them in their expertise and their professional career paths as they go through their parent service.

It's important to do all of these fundamental things first to allow a future that will give us the intelligence expertise that we will certainly need in this critical domain for our country.

That's it. Just four simple things this year, Santa, that I'll reiterate. And I'm hoping that as we go through our discussions here over the next couple of days and as we continue to move the ball forward that we'll be thinking about these needs, partnering with industry and academia, with our services and with our allied partners to see how we can fill some of these needs in a better fashion.

We certainly can't do this all alone, I do not believe. I think the opportunity for partnership here, again both with industry and our allies, I think the door is wide open here for these particular wants that I've discussed here today.

My challenge to you over the next couple of days is to not sit back and just listen to the sage wisdom of the great panels that we're going to have up here on stage. They will be very bright and they will be very interesting to listen to. But if you don't stay actively engaged as a member of the symposium, as a member of the team here, and provide good questions and discussions, then we're not going to achieve what we really want to achieve at this symposium. And it's not just passing good questions up here to the moderators to ask, it's continuing the debate outside the hall during the networking sessions and out on the display floors below.

This is an opportunity for all of us to step away from the daily grind of our jobs and our in-baskets and really focus on this critical mission area, this critical domain that I know you're all passionate about, as I am, or else you wouldn't be here today.

Don't miss this opportunity. Enjoy yourselves, but also challenge yourselves to address and answer some of these critical questions that we have posed before us today. At the end of the day the reason we're holding this symposium is quite simple. It all comes down to assuring the use of space, space capabilities, space-based assets to support our warfighters. Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines deployed at the very front edge of the battle space. But also from the very front lines back to the most senior levels of our government, yes, to include the President of the United States and the information that he collects and must assess and the way he must be able to communicate to his forces. It's all enabled, folks, by space, and it's important. It's important that you are here and active participants in this particular symposium.

Thank you for joining us. We have our work cut out for us. I'm looking forward to the next couple of days of productive work.

Thank you.


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