SPEECH | Feb. 9, 2015

Peter Huessy "Space Power for the Warfighter" Breakfast Series

ADM. CECIL HANEY:  Good morning.  Thank you, Peter, for that kind introduction.  I also want to thank the Mitchell Institute for partnering with the Air Force Space Command in getting this series started last year, I am to understand.  You know Peter is sort of like a tribal chieftain, you know he does so well at getting the caliber of people assembled here, and I thank you for that.

It’s fantastic to see the diverse audience we have here, members associated with working with Congress, industry, think tanks, media, international presence, as was mentioned, and more.  And when you couple it all together it’s just so important to have that diversity in perspectives all coupled together here.  Really important when you look at addressing the challenges we have in space today.  So thank you all for being here.

I must say it’s particularly well done also in timing this event.  We obviously are not distracted by the Super Bowl.  And I will say without the capabilities we have in space, some of us likely may not have enjoyed Katy Perry’s stunning half-time performance, and of course all those wonderful commercials and the countless replays of those last few minutes.

Seriously, it’s great to be here representing the Sailors, Soldiers, Airmen and Marines and civilians of U.S. Strategic Command.  Given the importance of space today, I salute this breakfast series’ theme of “Space Power to the Warfighter”  and I hope to prime the pump for future discussions over the next few months, so let’s get started.

Given the number of missions [and] responsibilities assigned to U.S. Strategic Command, some might view these as a set of disconnected missions from strategic deterrence, space and cyberspace operations, global strike, combating weapons of mass destruction, missile defense, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, and doing electronic warfare.  But the totality of these missions allows us to address them in a very connected manner, and we operate from under the sea to geosynchronous orbit.

When I took command about 15 months ago, the nuclear enterprise was under scrutiny and we’ve worked especially hard in this area over the past year.  While we continue to maintain a keen focus on this area, we are also putting similar steadfast efforts toward other capabilities, such as space, which is fully integrated in our joint military operations and underpins every part of our global economy, including our civil and commercial infrastructure.  As a military, we rely on precision navigation, timing, imaging, signals and electronic information to conduct missions across the full spectrum of operations.

As the Commander of Strategic Command, I also rely on space as a foundation for my nuclear deterrence mission, a key part of that being our national and nuclear command and control and communications capability.  For example, space helps us with our surveillance and reconnaissance efforts to detect and assess threats.  Our space-based missile warning systems provide nearly instantaneous warning of missile and bomber threats.  Our navigational satellites provide the capability for weapons and war fighters to reach their targets.  And our communications satellites allow us to communicate with the warfighters.

While we look at space capabilities as relatively modern, it’s hard to believe it has been less than six decades since Russia surprised the world with the launch of Sputnik and the United States put our first satellite in space four months later.  Now, I was just a toddler at the time, and while my daughter often calls me a dinosaur, the transformation of space over the past 57 short years is incredible.  Think about it.  Just four years after the U.S. launch of that first satellite Alan Shepard became the first American in space.  And just 10 years later, 44 years ago today, he was the first man to golf on the moon, establishing perhaps the first lunar handicap.

When the first GPS satellite was launched 37 years ago this month, I am sure most would not have understood that GPS would become the multi-billion dollar industry it is today, and how essential it would become to users around the globe from commercial banking, weather forecasting, navigating, farming and paying for gas at the pump with your credit card.  The point is, and as you all are aware of, as a country we depend on space as do most other nations around the globe.  Over the past 20 years innovation in space technology has significantly changed the global landscape.  And due to the continued enhancements and significant proliferation in these technologies, as well as the subsequent lower cost of entry, there are now more than 170 countries that have access to space capabilities.

Now while the United States has clearly benefited from these technologies, we have reached a point where the space environment is at risk from both space debris and other space-farers.  So this morning I’d like to spend a few moments talking about the trends in space, where the playing field advantage is changing, and not exactly in the favor of like-minded nations seeking assurance of freedom of access to space.  I’m going to talk about the role of space in 21st century deterrence and some of our ongoing and future opportunities.

Today, our nation is dealing with a global security environment that is more complex and dynamic and volatile than at any time in our history.  It’s laden with multiple actors operating across multiple domains, challenging our democratic values and our security in multiple ways.  In addition to significant tensions involving nation-states, we are in an environment that is flanked with numerous ungoverned, or ineffectively governed, areas that are breeding grounds for bad actors, including violent terrorist organizations who are also using space and cyberspace to recruit and spread propaganda, including misinformation, in support of their cause.

Perhaps of greater concern is the proliferation of these emerging strategic capabilities, attempting to limit our decision space and our maneuver space, and ultimately impacting strategic stability.  Focusing more specifically on the impact of emerging capabilities in space, we know today that the space domain is more congested, contested and competitive and increasingly vulnerable.  So let me put this in context for you.

First, congestion is a huge problem.  My Joint Space Operations Center, located at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, routinely tracks more than 17,000 objects the size of a softball or larger, which means there are many smaller objects that we’re not able to track.  Of those we do track, about 1,200 of those objects are satellites.  The rest are debris, increasingly threatening our operations and satellites as they travel at speeds more than 17,000 miles per hour. 

Complicating this already crowded environment, we’re seeing an increasing number of small satellites and while they are valuable low cost research platforms, the potential for damage to the world’s satellite constellations increases as their numbers grow.  Last summer a Russian Dnepr rocket launched a record-breaking 37 satellites, deploying a cluster of spacecraft for scientific research and commercial operations from a variety of countries.  I believe the prior record was 34 in January of 2014.  It’s amazing.

Just last year, for example, out of the 229 payloads launched into orbit, 158 of them were nano- and micro-sat technologies.  According to a space debris expert at the University of South Hampton, CubeSats have been involved in more than 360,000 close approaches of less than three miles with other orbiting objects.  Now consider for a moment the devastating effects of just one collision and what it could have on our financial and economic sectors and our ability to conduct military operations.

To help combat this overarching problem of space debris, last year my Joint Space Operations Center that I mentioned in California, led by Lieutenant General Jay Raymond, who is my component commander for space, notified more than 8,000 owners and operators of close conjunctions.  They logged 121 collision avoidance maneuvers, including three involving the International Space Station, and they continue to log about 23 collision warning notifications per day.

Now unlike the margin of victory experienced by the Patriots in our most recent Super Bowl, we can ill-afford to wait for those waning seconds in space to improve our margins.  Imagine how these trends will continue to grow as competition increases and more countries compete to develop indigenous launch capabilities, or as the decreasing prices afford this capability to more actors.

North Korea, for example, has been busy upgrading their launch facilities and Iran, just this past week, successfully launched a satellite into orbit after a string of failures.  China has publicly stated that its goal for the next decade is to out-perform all other nations in space, investing large amounts of money into increasing the number of platforms in every orbital regime and increasing their influence in global situational awareness -- space situational awareness.  But it’s not just these countries that recognize the strategic value of having space assets.  Countries such as India and Japan, as well as Vietnam, Bulgaria and Indonesia just to name a few, are also expanding and/or pursuing capabilities in space.

    Further confounding U.S. advantages in space is an increasingly contested environment in which other actors are seeking to take away the strategic advantage the United States has enjoyed, by exploiting what they perceive as our space vulnerabilities.  As Congress noted in one of their bills in April of 2014, “Our critical U.S. national security space systems are facing a serious growing threat.”  For example, multiple countries have developed and are frequently using military jamming capabilities designed to interfere with satellite communications and GPS. 

While we remain concerned with these growing capabilities around the globe, we must pay particular attention to China and Russia.  Both countries have acknowledged that they are developing or have developed counter-space capabilities.  Both countries have advanced directed-energy capabilities that could be used to track or blind satellites, disrupting key operations and both have demonstrated the ability to perform complex maneuvers in space.

In 2007, and at least twice over the past two years, China has demonstrated a hit-to-kill anti-satellite technology.  Thankfully, the last two didn’t do what the first one did.  You may recall in 2007 where it created thousands of pieces of debris adding significantly to the congestion we experience in the space environment today.

As news reporting last year indicated, Russia launched an interesting object with three military communications satellites.  Originally thought to be debris, this object, referred to in the media as “Object E,” has our attention, following some very curious non-debris-like maneuvers.  So that’s the space environment, but how does space fit into 21st century strategic deterrence?

Deterrence, as you know, is impacting an adversary’s perception and subsequent decision calculation to shape a behavior.  So to effectively deter adversaries and potential adversaries from threatening our space capabilities, we must also understand their capabilities and their intent; and make it clear that no adversary will gain the advantage they seek by attacking our space assets.  We must apply all instruments of power and elements of deterrence.

As stated in the 2011 National Security Space Strategy, quote, “We will support diplomatic efforts to promote norms of responsible behaviors in space, pursue international partnerships that encourage potential adversary restraint, improve our ability to attribute attacks, strengthen the resilience of our architectures to deny the benefits of attack, and retain the right to respond should deterrence fail,” end-quote. 

As a nation, then we must fully recognize that the role of space in 21st century deterrence enables all elements of national power, which must be brought together more effectively to achieve strategic deterrence.

Now while this synopsis may appear daunting, know that we are working hard to ensure we maintain the strategic advantages we expect in space today.  We are approaching these through operational planning, leadership attention and resiliency solutions. 

First, operational planning.  We must ensure we are prepared for all phases of potential conflict, and that is a task that I’ve given my Component Commander for Space, Jay Raymond.  First, his team must characterize the operational environment, allowing for timely and accurate warning and assessments of threats, enabling senior leader decision-making.  Second, his team must also support national users, as well as joint and coalition forces, allowing them to operate in contested environments.  And third, his team must protect and defend space capabilities, and be prepared to execute contingency operations, by developing tools, new tactics, techniques and procedures, partnerships and command and control relationships.

So how are we doing?  To improve our ability to see and understand the domain, we are working on several new capabilities, both in low earth orbit and geosynchronous orbit.  To enhance our capability of tracking objects in low earth orbit, our Space Fence program will work in conjunction with the rest of our space surveillance network to provide the Joint Space Operations Center an integrated picture of the joint operating environment, providing significantly improved un-cued space surveillance capabilities.

We are also relocating a C-Band radar to Australia.  I was down there recently and got to talk to the Australians associated with where we’re at with that project -- in order to give our low earth orbit coverage in the Southern Hemisphere.  And a major advance in geosynchronous space surveillance was last year’s launch of two geosynchronous space situational awareness program satellites, providing improved situational awareness out to 22,000 miles. 

Now these satellites will not only improve our ability to detect potential collisions, they will also increase our capability for detecting threats.  To that end, these satellites have also the capability to perform rendezvous and proximity operations, enabling characterization, enhanced surveillance, and enhanced orbital predictions.  These are just a few of our initiatives, and while space situational awareness is an extremely important part of what we do, we can’t do it alone.

I am pleased to tell you that U.S. Strategic Command is also heavily involved in the efforts to promote openness, predictability and transparency in space operations.  We have a number of our allies and coalition partners working in the Joint Space Operations Center, who participate in daily space operations and planning activities.  Last year, we signed a memorandum of understanding allowing participating nations to leverage existing capabilities.  And last month, we signed an arrangement with Germany to share space, services and data, making them the eighth nation to participate in sharing agreements with the United States.  We have also signed agreements with 46 commercial entities in 16 countries.

Cataloguing space objects, however, is not enough.  We must be able to fuse all the data together from multiple sources to provide command and control in near-real -- in a real-time environment.  This capability is coming with the Joint Space Operations Center Missions System, or JMS, as it’s frequently called.  The first phase to replace legacy equipment and software is already operating.  The next evolution will be a battle management command and control system that will provide space situational awareness to the other component commanders, the task force commanders, the intelligence community, and our data-sharing partners.

The second opportunity we have been afforded is to address some of the doctrinal, cultural, programmatic and organizational issues, so we better prepare our space forces to operate in this environment of increasing threats.  In addition to participating in the Defense Space Council, earlier this week U.S. Strategic Command held its first, its inaugural, Joint Space Doctrine and Tactics Forum.  We gathered operational leaders from across the space enterprise and held some very candid discussions on how to best synchronize our efforts and identify gaps in our capabilities to facilitate our long-term investments and associated solutions.  For example, it was interesting to look at different ways to enhance existing satellite communication capabilities in contested and congested environments.

Finally, we must ensure we maintain our advantage and to defend against space threats and to operate in a congested and degraded environments, and to ensure assured access to space for all.  We must put a resilient and affordable space architecture in place.  Because of the long but differing life spans of our satellites, we have reached a point where we must recapitalize and reconstitute big chunks of our current space architecture, providing us a unique opportunity to evaluate our approach in a holistic manner.

For example, just last week we launched the third Mobile User Objective Satellite System, or what we call MUOSS, in a series of five, which will provide some 10-fold capability and capacity of the current UHF constellation.  We must think creatively to make our systems more survivable and more resilient, and to host -- to include hosted payloads, lower cost satellites, cross-domain solutions and drawing on distributed international and commercial partner capabilities. To be successful, we will work to develop the most feasible, mission effective and fiscally sound mix of the available alternatives.

Now, to aid with resiliency, and in an effort to make this domain observable, we are incorporating modeling and simulating capabilities in our War Game Center at U.S. Strategic Command, to provide us a venue that allows for further understanding, unfettered discussions and informed decision-making at the strategic and operational level.  Now this is important to me, because we must be able to visualize the effects of congested, contested and -- in this competitive environment, particularly as we conduct exercises and improve or refine our operational concepts.

We are, of course, facing these complex issues during a dynamic fiscal environment, when our national debt is more than $18 trillion and when budget uncertainty creates risk in our planning efforts.  Now I’m pleased to see the president’s budget for FY ‘16 recognizing the growing and demonstrated threats to our vital space assets, and assets that our forces are relying upon being there.  Now this budget increases additional investments aimed at addressing gaps and innovations for space.

Of course, we’re in the early phases of the process, but let me be clear.  Any retrograde to the president’s budget could jeopardize these investments and diminish our asymmetric advantages in space, exposing our nation to significant risk in this foundational area. 

We must also continue to experiment with new innovations.  For example, the Commercially Hosted Infra-Red Payload, otherwise known as CHIRP, provided perhaps a viable affordable pathfinder option for a future missile warning architecture.  Similarly, ANGELS, or should I say the Automated Navigation and Guidance Experiment for Local Space, is an Air Force Research Lab experiment which examines techniques for providing a clearer picture of the environment around our vital space assets, and that’s showing promise.  So I look forward to other experimentation that will ultimately allow us to think differently, maneuver differently, and maintain our advantages in space.

Finally, as we go forward we must include a deep understanding of the congruency of space and cyber-space.  Both have a unique dependency on each other, and solutions must account for this.  There is obviously lots of work underway and still much to do.  But we have been operating in space for almost six decades and we owe these efforts to our nation at-large, as well as a joint operating force which provides intricate operations that clearly require a space capability.

Now, I’ve visited many of our sites and have spent time with these extraordinary men and women, and I could not be more proud of them or confident in their abilities.  We must continue the momentum of new approaches and progress in space because assured access to space is a requirement for U.S. warfighting forces.  Operational imperatives must include: flexible, agile and adaptable thinking; a resilient, flexible and affordable architecture; continued partnerships and sharing agreements; an acquisition strategy that will allow us to get defense spending right; and an international code of conduct for space that establishes norms for responsible behaviors in space that are equitable, verifiable and enhance the security of all nations.

As my good friend, Assistant Secretary Frank Rose from the Department of State has stated, quote, “Today the world is increasingly interconnected through, and increasingly dependent on, space systems.  The risk associated with irresponsible actions in space means that ensuring the long-term sustainability, stability, safety and security of the space environment, is in the vital interest of the entire world community.  The work we all will do in responding to the challenges of, and the threats to the space environment, can help us preserve space for all nations and future generations,” end-quote.