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General John Hyten - 2015 Space Symposium

General John E. Hyten

Good afternoon, everybody.  I get the favored lunchtime slot--this is perfect.  So I'll try not to put you to sleep today.  But thanks, Elliott.

The thing that amazes me about this Space Symposium every year is that it seems like it's impossible for it to get better, it's impossible for it to get bigger, and somehow every year it does.  It is truly remarkable.  Your leadership for the last dozen-plus years has been truly remarkable, so 'Well done' to you, 'Well done' to the Space Foundation--thanks very much and thank you for the opportunity to stand up here and tell them what Space Command is doing in the world today--because we're doing a lot. 

So I want to start back in 1958.  So if you've heard me talk in the past, I like to talk in the past and then move into the future and talk about where we're going in the future.  So the topic for today is Action Today Ensures Strength for Tomorrow.  I think that's a pretty fair way to look at what we're gonna talk about.  I'm gonna talk about it in terms of my priorities and I'm gonna talk about it in terms of our challenges and I'm gonna try to hook it all together so you can see where Space Command is going and where the world is going in military space.  But those words don't come from me; those come from President Eisenhower in a State of the Union address in January of 1958, and the rest of the quote is "It's not about our current strength; it's about the vital necessity for action today to ensure strength for tomorrow."  And if you look at our strength today, it is really overwhelming in space.  We have the most amazing space capabilities that this industry has built, that we have operated; it's been tremendous to be part of a transformation.  It'll come up a couple of times today, but when I came to the Air Force, there was no such thing as Air Force Space Command--did not exist.  So in my career, I've seen space go from nothing in the United States military to a full-fledged partner in everything that we do and really be a part of a fundamental transformation in warfare.  So let's go to the first chart.

So winning today's fight is my first priority.  We have to make sure that when we have soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines deployed in harm's way all around the world, we have to make sure that our number one priority is to get them everything they need every minute of the day because everything that they do is critically dependent on space.  We cannot fail that mission, and so on this chart I've put some pictures up; some people in this room will know what those pictures are.  I could have chosen SATCOM, I could have chosen DSP, I could have chosen Missile Warning, I could have chosen Weather--I could have chosen any number of capabilities we provide that help fundamentally transfer--transform--warfare.  Because it's not too long in the past where we didn't know what weather was gonna be, we didn't know where an attack was coming from, we didn't have real-time situational awareness of what was going on, we couldn't communicate anywhere around the globe--but this capability right here has kind of been at the forefront of transforming warfare.  So the satellite on the left is a GPS 2A; then a 2R, 2RM, a 2F, and a GPS 3--that's the family of GPS satellites.  We're flying all of those today except GPS 3, and hopefully soon we'll be flying GPS 3.  But the amazing thing about the GPS story is the real beginning of that story.  So Ivan Getting, you know, a number of great pioneers--Brad Parkinson would be probably the first and foremost in everybody's mind, really came up with the concept around space-based precision, position, navigation and timing system, and they came up with that, they took it to the Pentagon, and they were not well-received.  When I went to the Pentagon for the first time in the late '80s/early '90s, every year we went through the budget cycle the United States Air Force--one I'm proud to be a member of and I'm proud to be an airmen--the United States Air Force tried to kill the GPS program every year.  Why would they kill the GPS program?  It's really very simple:  Why would we need a satellite navigation system when we have perfectly good INS for airplanes?  Why would we do it?  Nobody could see the future of what GPS was going to bring to the world.  And you take GPS and you combine it with SATCOM, you combine it with the capabilities provided across the space domain and you have fundamentally changed everything that we do.  Not only that--you have invented or allowed the invention of a number of evolutions in military affairs because remotely piloted aircraft can't even be invented without space; they can't operate without space.  I had a--I won't say what service, but it was an officer of flight rank and we were talking about the threat that space was now coming under--and it is coming under threat--and he pointed out to me it's really not that big a deal because if space goes away, we can just fly UAVs and we'll be fine.  And you know, it's hard, actually, not to laugh when you hear that kind of comment, but it goes back to the old story about "I don't need space; I have my, you know, constant wizard here in the ship.  I don't need space because I have this."  But it's embedded in everything that we do and it enabled RBAs and it enabled all other precision munitions.  It enabled everything that we see today across the theater of warfare and without it we can't do what we do today.  But you have to make sure you protect that; we have to make sure that we can continue to fight that.  We did a study a few years ago with Air Combat Command in the lead--really our leading combat Air Forces command--they did a study called "A Day Without Space".  It was a good study.  I participated; I learned a lot from it, but the title still torques me off to this day because I think back to the inter-war years and the efforts in the beginning of World War II when we came up with the idea of this fortress bomber that can get through anything, anywhere, anytime, and all of a sudden we start flying over Europe and they get shot down, and I just think of Hap Arnold and Jimmy Doolittle and the folks in the Air Force and the Army Air Corp at the time decided to do a study called "A Day Without the Bomber".  It's just not gonna happen.  And there's never gonna be a day without space.  So when any environment comes under threat, what we have to do is we have to figure out how to fight through that threat and continue to provide operational capability, and that's the fundamental first priority of our command today.  We have to be able to do that, but--next chart--as we start figuring out how we're gonna prepare for the fight that may come tomorrow.  And you should know, first of all, that I never want to fight a war in space.  Anybody that loves the space domain, that grew up in Grissom High School and Chaffee Elementary School and watched Apollo 11 and watched Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong walk on the moon want space to be available for exploration for everybody to come--so I never want to go to war in space, I never want to have a kinetic war in space that will damage the environment and make it impossible for us to explore, operate, conduct military operations--all those things.  Nobody wants to do that--but if we are threatened...

I love NASA.  NASA--many people at NASA are heroes of mine and the astronauts are heroes of mine.  I'm not NASA; I'm the United States Air Force.  My job in the United States Air Force is to fly, fight, and win in three warfighting domains: Air, space, and cyberspace. *And two domains are in our command, space and cyberspace.  We have to figure out how to do that.  So if you look back in time, when we came out of Desert Storm back in the--'91, in '92 the Chief of Staff in the Air Force, General Tony McPeak at the time, put together a team called "[inaudible] Space" and I happened to be lucky enough to be the youngest guy on that panel; General Warren chaired it, and one of the recommendations that came out of that that I got to write--because if you're the youngest guy, you get to write the report--but a recommendation to develop a space warfare center to figure out how better to apply space and warfare.  That was our job, and so we stood that organization up in 1993 and we did amazing things through the years to figure out how to bring space into the fight.  In 19--or in 2006, we transitioned that capability to the United States Air Force Warfare Center, which used to be the Tactical Fighter Weapons Center; we made it the United States Air Force Warfare Center because we said the best way to bring all the capabilities of the United States Air Force was an integrated warfare center--and we've done that.  [inaudible] Space Development Center now, but as we went through that transition back in '93, '94, we had a thing called the "Space Tactics School" which was our equivalent of a weapons school that the fighter pilots had in the Air Force.  But as we transitioned over time, we quickly decided that the best way to pull that capability in was to put that capability in the Air Force Weapons School, so we came up with an integrated capability in the Air Force Weapons School solely focused on warfighting and space capabilities.  That's what the job was and it's still that job today.  But now, as we move forward into the future, we have to figure out how to do this in a contested environment and we have to prepare in case, God forbid, warfare does extend into space someday; we have to be able to walk down that path and figure out how to do that., and that's what we're doing.  So Admiral Haney, the Commander of Strategic Command, stood up an element called the Joint Space Doctrine and Tactics Forum and we're bringing those capabilities together to try to figure out how to work that into the future.  That's our past; that leads us and that informs us and that figures out the direction that we have to go into the future.

Next chart please.

And so we have to figure out how to prepare for tomorrow's fight.  So if you were at lunch today, you heard General Raymond talk about the SPADOC and JSpOC Mission System, so that's where I want to start the preparations as well because this is the key to everything--the key to the kingdom.  So of those of you who don't know what SPADOC looked like, SPADOC was in [inaudible]; I got to work with SPADOC.  I actually liked SPADOC at the time, but that was in the late '80s, early '90s.  What you see right there is the display that you would see at SPADOC at the operator; actually today, if you look at SPADOC, you still have to do it the same way today in 2015.  It's truly remarkable that that is the database that we operate everything off of today, but we have to move to the environment you see on the right.  The environment you see on the right is the Joint Space Operations Center, the JSpOC of the future, and the JSpOC Mission System is the capability we're bringing to bear.  We're doing a lot of great things. 

General Raymond talked about the international partnerships, the commercial partnerships--all those pieces coming in; that's critical to our future.  He talked about it briefly, but when we're done with increment 2, I give that  enormous credit for delivering the capabilities that they've done through the acquisition process, which is very bureaucratic and difficult, to fairly rapidly in our current acquisition process deliver the capabilities.  But when we're done with Increment 2, all we have is this exquisite place to display situational awareness information.  We have--don't have the domain awareness that General Raymond talks about.  That's off in Increment 3 at least, and at Increment 3, in the current Presidential  budget that's on The Hill now and being reviewed, we received additional monies in the JSpOC Mission System to accelerate that and bring it forward so we can give General Raymond a real-time command and control capability.  That's the key to the future of where we're going.  Next...

So if you're wondering what that picture was in my opening slide- I kind of showed it a little fast- but a lot of people have asked me what the GSSAP satellite looks like--that's it.  So that's the Geosynchronous Space Situational Awareness Program satellite--GSSAP.  That's just one element of what we're doing to improve our space situational awareness.  When you combine situational awareness with the full-time command and control capability of the JSpOC, then you get to the domain awareness that General Raymond talked about at lunch.  But right now, we have to flesh out the JSpOC Mission System, we have to build and operate the new capabilities we have for space situational awareness and then we need to break it down to get to the domain awareness that he's talking about.  But this satellite here is a key piece to the puzzle because even when we integrate all of our international partners, the commercial elements, we integrate that into the JSpOC, all we know is where things are--and in our most valuable orbit, the geosynchronous belt, we need to understand if there are threats, if there are concerns--what is going on up there?  Because just understanding where something is is not sufficient enough.  So this satellite here is actually a very simple satellite, and when you look at it, you can see it's basically just a sensor that can move and it's flying in what is called 'near geosynchronous orbit'; it'll fly around that orbit and we will be able to understand everything that is in the geosynchronous orbit to a very high quality.  We're going through the test program still; we're taking our time, but I can tell you that the pictures that we get off GSSAP are truly [inaudible] and we're learning things already; we'll continue to learn things because when you just have dots on a map, you really don't understand.  When you have a picture to look at you start to understand this space.  So SSA and the JSpOC are the key elements that have to come together in order to work that out.

Next chart.

But it doesn't happen without the airmen that operate all these systems, and so we look across our command and we look at how we operate; we see a fundamental change that has to happen in our crew force because today you may not realize, but our crew force is unbelievably young and unbelievably inexperienced, and it's been the way we designed it because when you grow up through the crew force, your graduation is [inaudible] become a trainer and that's how you grow up.  So the most experienced operators we have are not on crew.  When you think about a contested environment in the future and the need to make real-time decisions about what's going on if something bad should happen, you have to have very experienced people on crew, and the way we're structured on crew today, it's almost impossible the guy on crew picks up the phone and tries to call somebody that's experienced and get help, so we have to do this completely different, so we're basically gonna change our crew force, and the crew force is gonna be changed in three ways.  Number one, we're gonna normalize the force presentation at Strategic Command because right now it's strange, abnormal, and we're gonna fix that.  Number two, the way we present forces through the joint community is in a document called Global Force Management something-or-other'--it doesn't really matter.  The way you present forces has to be structured so that when you actually ask for a capability, you get that capability because right now the way we present forces to Admiral Haney is he gets a squadron--he gets the 2nd Space Operations Squadron at Schriever, the 2nd Space Warning Squadron at Buckley that does SBIRS, and he wants to do something different like stand up a backup facility, they really can only give orders to the 2nd Space Warning Squadron, which actually doesn't have the ability to do that.  You can't call down to the wing. The wing is not in that chain at all, so we're gonna fix that chain, and then we're gonna change our construct, so those of you airmen who work in Space Command, if this is the first time you're hearing this, it's gonna shock you--don't worry; everything's gonna be fine, but we're gonna basically be on six months on/six months off cycle and you're gonna be on crew whether you're young airman or a senior NCO or young officer--whatever you are, you're gonna be on crew for six months if you're in the operation communiy; then you're gonna go into a training period for six months.  For that six months, you're gonna do advanced training all the way up to the high-end concerns that we have and then you're gonna go back on crew staff. We are fundamentally changing  space training at Vandenberg now; it's going from 38 and 42 days up to 72 days.  You're gonna be very experienced coming out of that and the clock starts when you get to a Wing and we're gonna do business fundamentally differently because our airmen need to be prepared for tomorrow's fight as well. 

Next chart.

So we have a challenge now--we have a number of challenges and I'll talk about  them.  Number one: Assured access to space.  So I came in and sat on a launch panel earlier--great panel; well done.  I thought it was very impressive, the open discussion, so I'm not gonna repeat a lot of that discussion here because you heard that, but I want you to just look at that chart.  So Delta IV, Atlas V, Falcon 9, Antares, the new B4 engine--couldn't find an AR1--and think back five, ten years ago if I put up on a chart what the space mission was for launch at the time, and think about what it looks like today.  And it's just amazing to me the fights that we're in about how we get to assured access to space when we actually all have the same goals.  Number one, assured access to space; number two, competition is good; number three, get off the Russian engine.  We all agree with that.  We're probably going to have to invest the taxpayers' dollars in the engine technology; I agree with that.  We need to go down that path.  But the industry is going a different direction.  So I'm not gonna repeat what the panel talked about, but what I do want to talk about is one challenge and one action that we have to take as a Command, in order to enable the environment that you see here in the future.  So the one challenge that I have not figured out an answer yet, and I've asked Mr. Bruno, I've asked Ms. Shotwell,  I've asked the leadership in the industry for an answer to this; I've asked my staff for an answer to this and I still don't know the answer--and the answer is when we move to this kind of environment in the future and we are acquiring launch as a service and, God forbid, someday we will have an accident again.  It's not gonna be the next launch; it's not gonna be the launch after that, but it will happen again--it's the nature of the business and can tell you that it will happen at some point.  You won't expect it, but it will happen.  So we have a competitive industry--two providers, let's say, in each domain, and one of them has an accident.  If you think about accidents in the past, you think about the late '90s with Titan, you think about Challenger, you think about a number of different issues--Columbia--all tragedies in the space business.  What happened after that?  We stood down the rocket.  We stood down the rocket for a period of time--one year, two years, two and a half years--whatever it took to figure out the root cause of that problem and fix it so it won't happen again because some of the satellites that we launch not only are critical to warfighting, number one, but they have cost the taxpayer millions of dollars to get on top of that rocket, and when you spend millions of dollars in taxpayer dollars to get on top of that rocket, you have to be sure it's gonna work--and if something goes wrong, what do you have to do to return to fly in this kind of environment?  And who makes that decision?  Because I'm not gonna stand up and put a billion-dollar satellite on top of a rocket I don't know is gonna work.  And if that's the case, then that company who now is on this very busy launch schedule is now down.  How do they stay in business with the other competitor launching, launching, launching?  That's a fundamental issue that we have.  A lot of people ask "How come we had an ELC program"--we have an ELC--you know, the EELV launch capability contract that is--a lot of people get all hot and bothered about.  We have it because, number one, the business in the last part of the last decade didn't really support keeping a launch provider in business because we weren't launching enough; and number two, if we ever did have a failure, how are we gonna keep that company in business when their entire revenue stream is down?  So that's why we had to have that capability.  But that capability has to go away to enable the competition in the future.  So if that business goes away, you hurt the competition in the future and we have to understand before we get there how are we gonna return to flight, who makes that decision, and what's the business case we're closing in?  And I don't know how to do that yet.  That's the one element I don't know. 

Now the second piece is the action that we have to take in Space Command in order to make this happen.  So the action that we have to take is on our ranges.  Our ranges are structured today not to support this kind of business.  They're not.  They're old, they're creaky; the airmen that are out there that run them are amazing because it's just remarkable that every launch that happens doesn't get shut down because radars, telescopes, telemetry systems all across the Atlantic, the Pacific, West Coast of California that provide that capability and it's fragile--and it also doesn't support the launch schedule that each of these commercial businesses, whether it's Falcon, Vulcan--whoever it is, it doesn't support the launch schedule that they want it to, so the fact that the Cape is gonna get as much as 40 launches this year is remarkable.  They've about maxed out their capability on that range, so what we have to do is we have to build an automated flight safety system and get that approved.  Now General Kehler, when he was the Commander, I sat in the conference room with him and he screamed at us to build an automated flight safety system, and the year was 2008.  We really couldn't come up with the money to do that because of the business environment at the time we couldn't afford that, but now we have commercial companies--Blue Origin, SpaceX; you've heard of Vulcan.  That Vulcan [inaudible] was talking about earlier does not work; the kind of responsive launch he's been talking about this summer, will not work without an automated flight safety system.  So we have to get there, and so the goal I put out for this command is that when our range at Vandenberg goes down next year because we have to move this JSpOC and we have to shut down for a couple of months, the goal for the Command is to be open for business with an  automated flight safety system during that period, and if an industry partner wants to come in with an automated flight safety system and get it certified before then, we will work with them to get it certified so they can fly during that time.  If we can, we'll pursue after that, we're willing to work with all the industry partners to develop that automated flight safety system.  That's something we have to do.

Next chart.

And then the last challenge is the ground architecture.  I had a visit this morning from folks in my A2/3/6, folks I respect and work for a long time--worked with a long time--I was not happy.  I was not happy because they came in with another satellite program that was going to come out of Schriever Air Force Base with another standalone ground system.  I'll tell you today everybody in this room, especially blue-suitors here today, we're not gonna put a new ground system on Schriever Air Force Base.  That's not gonna happen.  We have too many.   The only ground system we're gonna put on Schriever Air Force Base next is gonna be a common ground system that we fly in a satellite.  We have spent hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars in standalone ground systems; we're gonna have one squadron out there with--if we keep going down the path, we'll have five separate ground systems to operate five separate satellites.  It's the dumbest thing in the world and it doesn't enable us to get into the future.  We have to get to a common ground system and we're gonna get to a ground system and we're gonna get to it one way or the other.  We cannot fail in this endeavor.  So if you're an industry partner and you come to me and you decide that you're gonna recommend a common ground system to me, it is not gonna go well--if you don't have a common ground system, it's not gonna go well.  So if you have your own [inaudible].  We need a common ground system.

Next please.

And the last piece is sequestration.  So in 2013 when sequestration hit, [inaudible] I don't know how--you made decisions to get through that period.  But I'll tell you, it was hard.  We went to a minimal essential range at both coasts; that ended up biting us.  We were killing the Air Force Space Surveillance System, which is actually fine.  You know how much that saved us?  About $6 million a year.  And maybe the most painful thing is we furloughed civilians across the board.  If you're a civilian airman, you have not been treated well the last five years--no raises, furloughs, temporary, go home, don't call, you can only work eight to five.  It's unbelievable what we're doing to our civilian Air Force.  And then we're losing 20% of our headquarters; many of those are civilians as well.  If we go into '16, we're gonna cut launches, we're gonna decimate weapons systems sustainment, we're gonna stop things like the SBIRS mobile ground systems, part of our nuclear command and control architecture--because guess what?  In 2013, General Shelton laid off half the contractors in Space Command.  In '14, I watched him lay off another 25%.  I watched him decimate the [inaudible] program.  I watched all those decisions being made--and those are done.  You can't go back and do it again, which means if we [inaudible] system. 

The last part, it's something I want you to think about, is that when I came into the Air Force, there were about 600,000 active duty airmen, 1981.  Grew that up a little bit in the '80s; by the time we went into the First Gulf War, there were roughly 511,000 active duty airmen in 1990-1991 when we went into Kuwait and Iraq.  So 511,000; today, the number is 310,000.  When we went into the Gulf War with the most amazing air force you've ever seen--the first space war--we had 188 fighter squadrons; today, we have 49.  And also think back to 1981 when I came in, there were zero people in Air Force Space Command, so all those people are online.  So all those 49 fighter squadrons I just talked about are more capable today because of the capabilities they have because of the integration of space, integration of cyber; they're the most capable, and we provide the combat power really that we had even more so than we did in the First Gulf War.  But the thing everybody forgets is the impact on the airmen because those airmen are going back and forth to theater all the time.  We currently have 600 airmen in Space Command deployed in support of the wars in the Middle East.  That's a burden on the airmen, but it's even a bigger burden on their families because those families watch--and I was talking to one airman the other night that has deployed 10 times back and forth to theater and he's got a family and two kids.  Just think about how difficult that is on an airman.  We have to make sure that we make this probably our top priority because if we break this, we break the Air Force and we break what we do in space.  This is the key piece that we have to do.


So I'll close, and I was talking to Buzz  Aldrin at lunch and he got me thinking about something to close today because he was talking about the need to preserve space for the future exploration of the world and how that's the responsibility of the United States of America--and I believe it is and I think we need to take that leadership role.  Well, it got me thinking about a quote from General Omar Bradley, June of 1948.  General Bradley in a World War II command, 43 divisions, 1.3 million men--1.3 million men in a European command; bigger than the entire military today.  But he said "Wars can be prevented just as surely as they can be provoked and we who fail to prevent them must share the guilt." 

We have an opportunity.  We have an opportunity by maintaining strength just like President George Washington said: "The best way to avoid war is to prepare for it."  We have to be able to prevent that if we take the right actions--and if we don't, bad things can happen in the future.  It's our responsibility to walk down that path; it's our responsibility to take action as we go through.  That action is critical and, as President Eisenhower said, it is a vital necessity to prepare for war. 

So I thank you very much for your time and your patience.  I think I'm out of time.