2010 Space Symposium - Session 4: Keynote Address: Delivering Assured Combat Power to the Joint Fight

By Lt. Gen. Larry James | Omaha, Neb. | Nov. 2, 2010

MR. GANDY: It's my pleasure to introduce Lieutenant General Larry James. General James is the commander of 14th Air Force. And of the United States Strategic Command's joint functional component command for space. Among his responsibilities General James provides space situational awareness, space and range operations, missile warning and space superiority in USSTRATCOM and all the other combatant commands.

General James and his team at the Joint Space Operations Center provide a one-stop shop for warfighters in this increasingly congested domain. Please welcome Lieutenant General James.

LT. GEN. JAMES: Good morning. It's great to be back at the space symposium. I'm here because my boss told me to be here.

Seriously, this is a great forum and great to see all the numbers of folks out there and especially all the young officers and young enlisted folks. It will really make this mission go in the years ahead, so I look forward to sharing some thoughts with you.

Of course, it was interesting hearing the debris panel here earlier today and talking about mean and standard distribution and standard deviation and 1 Sigma and 2 Sigma. How many of you got all that? Raise your hand. Nobody. A few, a few of you.

But along those same lines I was talking to my daughter. She just finished grad school, and I was talking about the final test they had to take which was true/false. And so she said, “Yeah, one of the girls beside me, she started looking at the test and kind of realized and leaned over and said, ‘Hey, I don't really know the answers to any of this,’ so she pulled out a coin, she started flipping the coin, heads true, tails false. And she just went down through and filled out the entire test like that.”

So the instructor is looking up there and saw she was done and a few minutes later saw her starting to look at her test again and really get frustrated and pulling her hair out and getting all agitated and so on. And finally [the instructor] walked up to her and said, “well, what's going on here?” She said, “I finished the test early; it was pretty quick, so I thought I'd go back and check my answers.” So anyway, you mathematicians will understand that one.

But the focus I was asked to focus on was, you know, the sharing combat power to the joint fight. Those are the topics I would like to cover today really to look at where we've come in the last year since our last symposium, so progress we've made there, some of the things we're working on as we move to the future and finally the just a few challenges that we're facing. So that's kind of the outline of what we're talking about. Where we've come in the last year, some of the things we’ve accomplished, and certainly focusing on that assured combat power of the joint fight has been our number one priority. That's what we think about day in and day out and really where we're at in terms of focus.

One of the things we've done is [we've] tried to become more tightly integrated with all those combatant commanders throughout the globe. We do this primarily through the Director of Space Forces. We've put in a lot of additional processes which allows us to make sure we are synchronized with what they're doing, the plans they're developing, the actions they're taking, [and] the exercise they're accomplishing throughout other combatant command[s].

So I think over this last year we've tightened that loop between our combat and commanders, the CFACCs, the JFACCs, the Directors of Space Forces that are out there really to make sure those folks in the JSpOC are fully witted and fully understanding of what's going on. So I think that's been a good success for us. We've always been working very hard in the intel world to get our J2 out to the various combatant commands and help them to understand what's going on [in] their battle space from a space perspective really developing that space intel prep of the battle space SIPB for the combatant commanders and assisting them in understanding what the threat is and potentially what potential targets we need to be worried about as they execute their various OPLANs throughout the globe.

So we've been out in the theaters doing that, had a lot of good dialogue with PAYCOM along those lines, and we will continue enhance those relationships as we move to the future.

In addition, as I said we've been trying to become more focused on the OPLANs and the COMPLANs that the combatant commanders have to potentially execute in the future for combat operations, so really digging into those with the combatant commanders and understanding the space capabilities that are needed, understanding the potential contested environment we may be operating in, and how we need to respond in that environment. So working directly with those combatant commanders to help flush out those OPLANs from a space perspective has been another focus area over this past year we have had. And then along those lines as we ramp up to do our exercises to prepare us to support those type of combat operations, we've really tried to march down the path of starting to synchronize our exercises internally with what an OPLAN may require us to do in support of an external combatant commander. So we've developed a lot of tasks and a lot of sims, if you will, that will allow us to look at what are the taskings we anticipate out in the operational plan and theater, and then how will we have to execute in support of that operational plan. So I think our folks have done a lot of good work there. In addition, we've tried to become less scripted in some of our exercises, and really we've brought in the aggressors to help us go against the thinking enemy that really challenges us to, if you will, maneuver in order to respond to what that thinking enemy is doing. So those are some of the things in terms of helping our forces prepare for execution of operations in support of combatant commanders that we've tried to bring to bear.

You've heard a lot of talk about space situational awareness today, from General Chilton, certainly as one of his Christmas wish list items and from the panel we had here this morning.

Just some stats, if you will. If you look at a week in the life of the JSpOC we send out 1.4 million sensor taskings for space situational awareness. If you look at all the taskings we give to radars, to our optical systems, et cetera, it's 1.4 million tasks a week to go look at various objects up there in space. We process 5,600 satellite conjunction assessments per week in the JSpOC, so talk about ramping up from where we were prior to Iridium cosmos, pretty significant increase with what the folks are doing there at the JSpOC. We send out on average over the course of a week 190 conjunction warnings, the various owner-operators around the globe, whether that's commercial, industry, government, U.S., foreign, it doesn't matter, if we determine there's going to be a conjunction assessment, then we will provide that information to the owner-operator.

And finally on average, there are three satellite maneuvers per week. These are not necessarily in response to the conjunction assessment information we send out, they may be, or they may be just plan maneuvers that a satellite will have to do in order to do station keeping or whatever the case may be. But on average three satellite maneuvers a week that we track and that we are concerned about within the JSpOC.

And then you heard the comments from the ESA rep this morning about the data that flows from the JSpOC and a lot of kudos in my mind to the folks at the JSpOC and the folks here at STRATCOM on allowing us to improve information that we send out to those owner operators.

Last year as we tried to kind of just move our way through what we are going to do, the information that we are providing to an owner-operator was really, this is the potential conjunction time and here is the vector that the piece of conjuncting debris or satellite is on with radio cross track and in track information.

And that's really all we were able to provide because you start peeling back some of the more in-depth data that we have and you start to talk about capabilities and those sorts of things.

So over the course of the last year and really over the last few months, we've been able to determine that we can provide additional information to those owner-operators in what we call a conjunction summary message.

And really what that entails is that original data that I just talked about plus some covariance information as well as some probability information which gives the owner-operator a lot more fidelity in terms of understanding what that conjunction looks like and what that piece of debris or other satellite is doing. And that allows them to more effectively assess and maneuver their spacecraft in order to execute maneuvers to get out of the way.

I think that's been a real success for the folks at the JSpOC, and again, here at STRATCOM as we work through what can we actually release to those owner-operators around world, and that's making a big difference in their ability to properly execute or determine whether they need to execute a maneuver in order to avoid a conjunction. So kudos to the team that did that.

In terms of progress as well, we've been working very hard on intelligence. You heard General Chilton talk this morning as his fourth item on his wish list is improving intelligence. And we are certainly trying to march down that path. I think there's definitely some process and structural things we're going to have to address, and I'll talk about that a little later in the challenges portion.

But within the context of what we have today and what we are able to do in order to really start to bring in other entities such as NSA, NASIC, NGA and other organizations and start to push that information into the JSpOC and fuse that information in order to, as General Chilton talked about, ultimately creating information and knowledge the decision makers can use to make the very best decisions possible.

We've had a lot of momentum in this last year in doing that in working with our intelligence community partners and starting to bring more information into the JSpOC to allow us to do better assessments. Again, plenty of challenges in that arena and I'll touch on that later, but I would say with the great J2 team we have and the A2 team we have and the ISRD folks within the JSpOC, we're making progress and getting more and more intel capability into the JSpOC to allow us to do those assessments.

And then finally in terms of progress, the space-based space surveillance system, obviously we've been waiting a long time to get that capability on orbit as General Chilton mentioned, kind of the son of MSX, if you will, but certainly designed to actually do that mission.

Everything is going very well with the checkout of that spacecraft. We opened the door that was protecting the telescope last week. We took our first pictures, if you will, of star fields late last week, and everything is proceeding on pace to really turn that over to us for operational utilization probably in the March or April time frame. So that will be a dramatic step forward in terms of our ability to survey the GEO belt.

As you know we really rely today on ground-based optical sites primarily to go up and look at the geosynchronous belt, and frankly, you have issues with that. You can only do it at night and you often have weather, especially at Diego Garcia, where you have cloud cover or at Maui, wherever the case may be. And you can't just go up and take the observations that you had planned to take.

So the ability to have 24/7 optical surveillance of that GEO belt from SBSS is going to be a tremendous enhancement for our ability to do space surveillance and really understand what's going on in the GEO belt in a much more real-time manner.

So in my mind a great deal of progress that we have made over the last year since we had our last space symposium as we've looked at each of those particular areas.

Now, looking at kind of some of the areas where we're going. First of all, the JSpOC mission system. This is the upgrade to our command and control system there at the JSpOC which will move us out of frankly 20th century PowerPoint slide command and control to a 21st century capability that we definitely need there at the Joint Space Operations Center. I'll talk more about JMS and that acquisition and the challenges part of my talk, but we are moving forward.

It was interesting we just had an OIPT which is one of our reviews we do back with OSD here about three weeks ago, and we had the JSpOC director Colonel Chris Moss come in and give a briefing that in my mind really highlighted to the assembled folks there at OSD what JSpOC mission system is going to give us, because what he did was he showed here's a screen shot of what an operator has to use today in the JSpOC to accomplish this mission, whether it's SSA, conjunction assessment, support the warfighter, whatever the case may be.And essentially you've got to think of the old CRTs with green scrolling script on it, and generally that's what the guys are using in the JSpOC today to do their analysis and do their assessment.

And then he had on the screen, here's how long it takes the operator to accomplish this particular function using this particular screen of data, whatever that was, and then he had superimposed beside that and here's what the JSpOC mission system is going to give us. It's very much a graphical user interface, it's much more intuitive, and the processing and the integration is going to allow us to dramatically cut down the time an individual operator has to take in order to accomplish his particular thing he's working on.

And I think this was the first time frankly the folks back in Washington truly understood from an operator's perspective what JMS was going to give us. So we are moving forward with that. We are making progress not as fast as I would like, and again, I'll talk about that later and some of the challenges. But again, what it will give the operator as we move forward and our Phase 0 delivery which is just basic service oriented architecture and some capacity in terms of processing that we're throwing on top of that will definitely improve what the operators will be able to do in the Joint Space Operations Center. So that's certainly an area that we're looking in term of where we're going.

Integration with cyber. General Chilton challenged us really in the past year and a half for his key lines of operation to sort out how do you folks need to integrate so, we've been on that journey and frankly is a journey. We do not have all the answers yet.

But over the last year we've had two top-level meetings between the folks at Cyber Command, JFCC Space and JFCC Global Strike to really bring some of the senior leadership together and start to talk about how do we bring this integrated capability to bear on the problems that STRATCOM has to address in supporting the combatant commanders.

So we're starting to think through that, we're starting to understand what are the processes we need to put in place, what are the planning tools and techniques we need to have out there to bring these lines of operation together and make them more closely integrated.

We kick off Global Thunder later this week, and I think the folks on the joint staff here at STRATCOM have put in a lot of cyber and space actions that I think will challenge us in terms of that integrated capability and integrated operations across the space, cyber and global strike domain. But that's how we're going to learn and flush this out so we continue to march down that path.

In addition with my 14th Air Force hat on, we've been working with 24th Air Force which is the Air Force's Cyber Command to start to develop processes and procedures to integrate with them from a purely Air Force side of the house, how do we do that, what does 24th Air Force do for us. We've talked about things like creating a defended asset list in cyber. What does that mean? Are there a set of servers or something that JFCC Space needs to ensure are protected from malware or viruses or worms or whatever as we execute a particular operation. So we're starting to have those kinds of dialogues.

We've also sent folks down to their operation center in San Antonio to help them see what we have built on in the JSpOC, and help them develop their processes and procedures from a cyber perspective because they really don't have within 24th Air Force at least initially the background and the processes and the TTPs that we've developed for space over the last decade. So we're trying to assist them in really coming up to speed as they stand up their operations center and start to put all these capabilities in place.

So again, a lot of work is going on within the space, and cyber and global spike domain to integrate and bring all this together. But certainly we are probably in the tenth percentile in terms of getting the solutions, getting it right and sorting out the right TTPs.

General Chilton also mentioned modeling and simulation. Certainly that's on my Christmas wish list as well. And this is a capability that we absolutely have to have. We simply cannot continue to do business in terms of how we train our people, how we execute our exercises, and how we really throw in a lot of dynamics into our training and exercising to make our folks ready for the fight, ready to support those combatant commanders. And we cannot do that today. As General Chilton said, it's mostly white cards, it's mostly scripted.

There are a few things we can bring up in terms of missile warning and those sorts of things that give us apparent real-time information and feeds that we can react to, but it's pretty thin stuff in term of where we are today. So bringing on that modeling and sim capability, I know the Air Force has taken that on. The SIDC out of Schriever is working that very hard in conjunction with STRATCOM, and so I think we're going to see some progress here over the next one to two years to really start to bring that into the fight for our command and control systems and our space operations systems. So some work that we need to do there.

And then again, as I said in the intel domain, we will continue to partner with our intel agencies. We have a future center that we're working with one of the agencies back in D.C. that we're getting funding and people for that we will probably stand up in the next year. And that will -- within the JSpOC. So that will be a great add to our capabilities there and we, again, have the support from the folks back in Washington to go off and create this intel fusion center.

But we can't do a lot with that intel unless you have knowledge management. How do we bring all of this data together? How do we parse it, understand it, separate the weak from the chaff and determine what's important and then present that to the leadership.

That's an area we continue to work very hard on. We even have support from some of the Congressional committees to work with the National Labs. They have some dollars out there to do a program called Karnac, which is really looking at their very high-speed computing and processing capabilities and trying to sort out what problems can we apply that to within the Joint Space Operations Center.

So we have representatives from Lawrence Livermore, Las Alamos [and] Sandia out at our last Global Thunder to really see and understand what we do in terms of major exercise. They will be out again for this upcoming Global Thunder this week and next to continue to refine capabilities they think they can bring to bear from a high-speed computing automated processing capability that can focus on some of the hard problems that we have.

We've also been in dialogue with DARPA, recently had a VTC with Dr. Dugan about two weeks ago to really focus on the same thing, what are some of the DARPA hard problems that we have with respect to data fusion, with respect to processing that they can help us with? And we've given the Colonels about 30 days to go off and assess some areas and then get back with myself and Dr. Dugan and really chart away ahead where DARPA can help us get and tackle some of those hard problems, so I'm excited about that.

And then one of the areas, again, I think you'll hear more about later today is coalition operation. How do we continue to march down this path of bringing certainly our key allies in, the UK, Australia, Canada, and bring to bear the space capabilities they have, better share information with them across all the domains that we operate in from a space perspective and really bring about increased capability because of the dynamics of those intersections of our capabilities across the allies.

The J5 here, STRATCOM is working an MOU to start that process of dialogue and discussion and how we will move forward, but I think there's great opportunity there. It was great to have the international panel yesterday, and I know we'll hear from them again tomorrow. And just bringing all those capabilities to bear in a coalition environment just like we do in air, sea and land I think from a space perspective is extremely important.

So we have to figure out how to do that, figure out what does a coalition SpOC look like in the future? What information do we exchange? How do we do that? Is it virtual, is it hardware, is it software? So those things still are to be determined but certainly in the Schriever war games, we continue to prove that there is power in operating in the coalition environment, so we need to continue to march down that path.

Finally, challenges. I talked about JMS, JSpOC mission system, and I talked ability this last year and it's still a challenge. When I was here last year, we were supposed to get the first Phase 0 delivery of JMS in the spring of 2010. Now it's going to be the spring of 2011.

From an operational perspective that's unsound, and you would think that with the IT and CT capabilities that exist out there today, it shouldn't be that hard. But it's just a difficult process within the Pentagon to work this stuff through.

We're working cost analysis issues right now, not me, the acquisition guys, of course, but sorting out, you know, how do you cost IT systems that may be cost based versus development? And I think there are a lot of issues with that. We've got to sort through that.

How do you operationally test this software that we're delivering in maybe small bunches? The operational testers are used to testing major programs with 5 million lines of code and they'll come in and do that for nine months and tell you if it's good or not. What if it's only 500 lines of code and yet we want to make sure that it's operationally suitable for the folks on the JSpOC floor to use. How do we deal with that in the operational test community?

Frankly right now AFOTEC is struggling with that. We just had dialogue how they're going to ensure we have operational utility before we put stuff on the ops floor in this first delivery is happening here in the next few months. So I think the operational test community is struggling with some of this as well.

But we have to get better; we have to get faster in terms of the IT and the C2 acquisition. We just cannot afford to wait a year or two years between deliveries. And ESC hears that message. I don't want to downplay the hard work they are doing. But the process still doesn't allow us to do that quickly enough in my opinion, and we need to continue to work that.

Another area that I think is going to continue to challenge us and that's the taskable systems we are starting to bring online. If you look at SBIRS HEO, we can do some pretty impressive things with that system in terms of where we point, where we look, what data we pull out of it, and that's taskable. If you look at SBIRS GEO, you're going to have that problem again in terms of now we have a more capable system with GEO and how do we use that to support the warfighter beyond just missile warning and those sorts of things? How do we use it for BA, how do we use it for technical intelligence?

We just had a BATI in this week, a lot of smart people coming together to sort out how do we manage those type of systems now coming online? How do we do the operational of command and control, the tactical level of command and control, and ultimately push the information out to the warfighter they want based on those systems? So I think that's going to be a challenge.

You look at GPS. We just finished some flex power testing on GPS a few months ago. We're right in the middle of (inaudible) testing -- my mind just went blank, but anyway, Selective Availability/Anti-Spoofing Module. This allows us to do over-the-air data and those sorts of things in terms of transmitting our keys. So we're doing a full test on that over this current month right now. We just walked into that full global test, and that's ongoing through the month of November.

But again, some capabilities that we haven't had in the past that will allow us to task GPS, support the warfighter more effectively in terms of jamming environments and those sorts of things, and we have to continue to develop the TTPs for those types of systems as we move forward.

And finally, the last challenge I would offer is situational awareness. Again, we've talked about SBSS, we've talked about, you know, the new systems coming online, the SST, space surveillance telescope, down in New Mexico.

All those things are going to add great capability, but as I said before that's just one component of situational awareness. Situational awareness is about totally knowing what's going on in your environment. That means intent, that means who owns the system, that means where are they, that means what are they going to do in the future, and we simply aren't there yet.

It's an amalgamation of not just sensors looking up and taking data but the intel community bringing all their forces to bear to really understand what's going on in that environment.

And then the next piece is now integrating that situational awareness with the situational awareness of the combatant commanders' domain. How do I make sure that we in the JSpOC know what's going on in the air domain, with the ISRS stats they have there, or in the ground domain? What does that Marine Lance Corporal need? How do we have that situational awareness within the JSpOC so we can ensure that everything that we do is focused on supporting that combatant commanders, because we need to know what's going on in the theater on the ground in the air and the sea as well as what's going on in space. So bringing that total situational awareness, creating that within the JSpOC, I think is certainly a challenge that we have.

So finally, I would just like to highlight the fact that there are great men and women out there doing great things within STRATCOM and certainly within JFCC Space and 14th Air Force. Just a few examples. 30th Space Wing over this past summer, three launches in eight days, all flawless. An ICBM test launch, an extremely critical NRO launch for our nation and then SBSS on a minitar hadn't been done in a long time in the 30th Space Wing, maybe ever, I don't know. Three launches, eight days 100 percent success. Great work by the folks at the 30th.

Look right now at Cape Canaveral Patrick Air Force Base. You've got the shuttle on the pad. We've had a couple delays there due to some fuel leaks, line leaks, and those sorts of things. Right behind it you've got a key NRO mission. Right behind that you've got another falcon line test flight. And the folks down at the cape right now have been dramatically very effectively working this week to sort out launch schedules, and when do I do what dress rehearsals, and (inaudible) interviews, as things slip and things move around. And I guarantee those folks down at the 45th will make it happen and have three successful launches over the next couple weeks. Great work by those folks.

If you look at the 50th Space Wing, just yesterday I got an e-mail from the Commander there that says, “Boss; we had an L1 high-powered amplifier fail on one of our GPSs. We had to take it offline. We've done the assessment, we've done the analysis, we've figured out what the problem was, we need your permission to go to the B side, go do it, flip to the B side, and bring the satellite back to health.”

That was all pretty much transparent to any user out there, and yet those are the things those guys at Schriever do day in and day out to ensure those capabilities on orbit continue to support not only the warfighter but the globe in terms of GPS.

You look at the SAASM test we've been doing, the flex power test that we did, all of that very carefully planned very carefully scripted so that we ensured that there was no impact to the users. This is new stuff. We weren't sure how it would impact receivers out there that sometimes aren't designed to an ICD that we've put out. Yet, we were very deliberate in how we set up those tests and how we executed that test to ensure that there was no service interruption for GPS. Again great work by the folks at the 50th Space Wing.

And finally SBIRS, space-based infrared system, our HEO system. It's a new system. I mean, yeah, it's been up there maybe for a couple years, the first one, but when you're talking millions of lines of code we continue to find things out about that system that we didn't know as we conduct operations and unbeknownst to the folks in this room. But we have times when that system goes offline because we get hiccups. And yet, the folks at Buckley do a great job in terms of sorting this out, and understanding what's going on, and figuring out ways to bring that system back online as quickly as possible, so we ensure uninterrupted missile warning capability for General Chilton.

And those are the unsung heroes in my book that day in and day out are keeping those systems operating, making good things happen for this nation. And they do it without a lot of recognition. And I know some of them are sitting in this room, so I would say thanks to them for what they do day in and day out, thanks for being here today, and I look forward to interacting with you throughout the rest of the Symposium. Thank you very much.

MR. GANDY: All right. Thank you very much General James.