Tuesday, Sept. 3, 2002
(Defense Department Special Briefing on the opening of the Transformational Communications Office, a transformational change in the National Space Program Architecture. Also participating were Rear Adm. Rand Fisher, director of this new Transformational Communications Office, Lt. Gen. Harry Raduege, the director of the Defense Information Systems Agency, Dr Linton Wells, the principal deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Command, Control, Communications and Intelligence. Undersecretary Teets also introduced Lt. Gen. Harry Raduege, the director of the Defense Information Systems Agency, Dr Linton Wells, the principal deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Command, Control, Communications and Intelligence, Mr Robert Dickman, deputy for military space, Lt. Gen. Brian Arnold, the program executive officer for Air Force Space and the commander of the Air Force's Space and Missile Systems Center Brig. Gen. Steve Ferrell, the National Security Space Architect, and Rear Adm. Rear Adm. Fisher is also the director of the new Transformational Communications Office. Admiral Fisher is also the Director of Communications at the NRO and Commander of the Navy SPAWAR Space Field Activity. Ms. Christine Anderson, who will be the office's deputy director and is also the director of the Military satellite communications (MILSATCOM) program office at the Air Force's Space and Missile Systems Center.)
Staff: Good afternoon, everybody. Thanks for joining us today. It's my pleasure to be able to introduce the undersecretary of the Air Force and the executive -- I forget the title --
Teets. Director of the NRO.
Staff: Director of the NRO, but there's a third title, the --
Teets: Executive agent for space.
Staff: Executive agent for space, Mr. Peter B. Teets. He has an announcement to make.
We'd like this to be a single-subject press conference to talk about the announcement about a transformational change we're making in the architecture of our national space program.
Mr. Teets, over to you.
Teets: Thanks, Ron. And good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. Thanks for being here.
This is a very exciting time to be involved with national security space. And I believe that we are indeed taking the right steps to provide this nation with the world's best space systems, something this nation deserves and has come to expect. To this end, I would like to announce today the formation of a new office that will coordinate, synchronize and direct the implementation of a transformational communications architecture.
In its role as the DOD Executive Agent for Space, the Air Force is excited about the opportunity to form this national security space team. "Team" is clearly the key word. That's why I'm very pleased today to have a number of guests here to help me introduce this new office and to take questions from you when I conclude my remarks.
It's my pleasure to introduce first Lieutenant General Harry Raduege, the director of the Defense Information Systems Agency; Dr. Lin Wells, the principal deputy assistant secretary of Defense for Command, Control, Communications and Intelligence; Mr. Robert Dickman, my deputy for military space; Lieutenant General Brian Arnold, the program executive officer for Air Force Space and the commander of the Air Force's Space and Missile Systems Center; Brigadier General Steve Ferrell, the National Security Space Architect.
And I'm very pleased, I must say, to introduce Rear Admiral Rand Fisher, whom I've asked to be the director of this new Transformational Communications Office. Admiral Fisher is also the director of Communications at the National Reconnaissance Office and commander of the Navy SPAWAR Space Field Activity.
I'd also like to introduce Ms. Christine Anderson, who will be the office's deputy director. Christine is also the director of the MILSATCOM program office at the Air Force Space and Missile Center in Los Angeles.
Admiral Fisher and Ms. Anderson will retain their current positions while providing leadership for this new Transformational Communications Office. With a team like this, I have every confidence that we will succeed in implementing a truly transformational national security space communications system.
The mission of this office is to assure that we have communications compatibility across the Department of Defense, the intelligence community and NASA. This compatibility that I refer to is critical to meeting the growing communications requirements that we face in the 21st Century and to provide the flexibility we need to meet evolving demands on our communication systems.
I think everyone here understands the critical importance that communications provide to the war fighter, as well as to our national security leadership. For example, with the advent of unmanned aerial vehicles, we have seen dramatic increases in communications requirements during Operation Enduring Freedom, compared to what we experienced during Operation Desert Storm.
We understood this increasing communications need, and earlier this year, General Steve Ferrell, the national security space architect, conducted the transformational communications study to outline a vision for a joint integrated communications network that included both laser and radio frequency communication capabilities. The study confirmed that our baseline program plan would not meet forecast requirements and that we needed to transform our communications architecture. The study also suggested that we now have a window of opportunity to provide an architectural framework for a compatible communications system across the Department of Defense and the intelligence community that could increase our capabilities by a factor of 10.
The Transformational Communications Office is going to develop the detailed architecture and the acquisition strategy to make this communications goal a reality. The office will coordinate the acquisition implementation of the various system elements of the architecture under the existing program offices, using established authorities and budgets. This will also allow the Transformational Communications Office to use best practices in program management in contracting resources from across a broad spectrum of organizations. Each service or agency will remain responsible for managing their individual programs within the framework of the Transformational Communications Architecture, and this emphasizes the importance of the team before you here today.
The Air Force understands the importance of its stewardship role as the executive agent for space. We understand that the soldiers and Marines on the ground in some remote region of Afghanistan are counting on us. We understand that the A-10 pilots flying support for those ground missions are counting on us. We understand that the sailors on the ships patrolling the Persian Gulf region are counting on us. And we understand that the intelligence analyst here in Washington providing critical information to the nation's leadership is counting on us. That's why you see so many different colors of uniforms before you here today. Transformational Communications is going to be a team effort, and its success is dependent on every member of that team. Together, they provide a tremendous opportunity to leverage our unparalleled talent from the military, the intelligence community, NASA and industry to dramatically improve the world's premier communication capabilities.
Now I'd be very pleased to entertain your questions. And I will call upon members of the team here to support as needed. Please.
Q: You mentioned that the office will develop an acquisition strategy. Is it going to have acquisition authority over the other services, and is it going to be considered a joint office, or is this primarily Air Force?
Teets: It's very much a joint office. But it won't have acquisition authority in the sense that it's not an executing organization. This will implement an architecture. And it will make certain that we synchronize and coordinate these various elements of the architecture so that existing program offices within the existing budgetary authorities and capabilities will bring on line a truly transformational communication system architecture.
Q: Sir, you mentioned that the admiral would be, you know, over the office as, I understand , with the deputy. They come from slightly different cultures with the NRO and SMC.
Q: Can you talk to us a little bit about how you plan on, you know, making sure those cultures combine in a way that's favorable as opposed to clashing? And also, how do you plan to man the office with, you know, folks from the black world and the white world, and what's going to be classified and not?
Teets: Well let me say that, you know, one of the challenges that I've been given in this job as undersecretary and director of the NRO is to provide bridges between military space and, I'll say, the National Reconnaissance Office and intelligence community space activities. And so I see this as an extension of that kind of challenge. Communications systems and a national security space communication system is certainly a system that can benefit from serving the entire national security community.
So it is true that cultures at the NRO are different from cultures at, say, Space and Missile Systems Center. On the other hand, they both have enormous strengths. And our objective by standing up this Transformational Comm. Office is not to change the culture of the NRO or change the culture of SMC but, rather, to provide coordination, synchronization so that these existing program offices at the NRO -- I mean, Rand Fisher is the director of the Communications Directorate at the National Reconnaissance Office. He will continue to wear that hat. Christine is director of the MILSATCOM Program Office out at SMC, and she will continue to wear that hat as well.
What this office will do, though, is allow us to synchronize and bring into being this architecture that I'm referring to so that it connects. You might think of this thing as a system that has a lot of pipes. And what Rand and Christine will be doing is leading a small office -- 20 to 25 people is all we're really talking about -- it will be leading a small office that makes sure all those pipes connect to the warfighter and that the warfighter can get on-demand service from the communication system; when he needs something in the cockpit of an airplane, it will be there. He can request it and it will be downloaded to it. Similarly, as we collect information from various sources, that will also be able to be communicated back to home base, so to speak.
Q: Along those lines, if you have two systems that, you're saying connecting the pipe, but you have different protocols, different techniques, will your office be the one that basically decides which will be used or how will that work?
Teets: That is the very nature of this Transformational Comm. Office, is to make sure that the protocols are compatible and that they do work, and that when an intelligence-community analyst requests a certain piece of information from a database located a long way away, he'll be able to request it and get rapid service, as will the warfighter.
Q: At what point did the office start making tough decisions about actual platforms and hardware on the transformational communications satellite constellation, which has been mentioned -- (inaudible) -- the study, and also, what to do about the remaining advanced visa-check program and other of those sort --
Teets: Sure. Timing is dependent on how the -- on specified decisions, dependent on how this whole architecture unfolds. But really, the first few decisions will be virtually immediately. I mean, what we need to do now is put in place an architecture, which is synchronized.
And for example, you ask about Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF). Well, by December of '04, we need to decide whether we're going to order two more AEHF satellites or whether or not we're going to be able to avoid the acquisition of those two and go straight to this transformational comm.. at that point in time. Depends a little bit on how much risk has been reduced by that point in time and what the status of the definition of the architecture is. You are right when you say that Steve Ferrell, the national security space architect, did a fine job and reported out to you all, as a matter of fact, the results of his transformational comm. architecture study. We now need to go to that next level of detail and ascertain exactly what implementation will mean in terms of buying satellites, buying terminals, buying, buying, buying, and make certain that those come together in a compatible way.
Q: What about the existing systems? Will you have, will you mandate a retrofit or any upgrades, since billions of dollars already have been spent on different systems?
Teets: Well, to me, that's one of the real key challenges that this new office has -- is to make certain that we don't leave anybody behind as we're transforming to the new transformational comm. system. And so all of these existing legacy systems need to be brought along in a way that they're phased into the new transformational architecture in a smooth, compatible way and that none of the warfighters are left behind in the process.
Q: Who's going to be responsible for doing that?
Teets: This Transformational Comm. Office will be responsible for putting out the requirements to make that happen. And then the individual program offices will continue to be in existence -- for example, at the NRO Comm. Directorate -- they'll still be responsible for that comm. system. MILSATCOM SPO out in Los Angeles will be responsible for the Air Force's comm. system. We just last week, had a Defense Space Acquisition Board meeting on the Navy's Mobile User Objective System (MUOS) communication system that will be acquired. And now what Rand's job will be, as TCO director, to synchronize all of that activity in a way that allows us to implement essentially what Steve Ferrell architected in the transformational comm. study.
Q: So will they be generating more fragments or simply assembling them among all the international partners -- the United States --
Teets: Mostly they'll be generating some detailed requirements, yes, in terms of protocols. How do we make sure that we have compatible interfaces? How do we connect these pipes, in other words, not only in terms of the size of the pipes but also in terms of the timing, so that we get it all at the right time, and we get it all with the right protocols? And as you know, from Steve's debrief, we will be using packet switching and Internet protocol. And we're evolving to that. Today's comm. systems are all channelized comm. We'll be going to packet-switched comm. systems in the transformational comm. system.
Q: Isn't that --
Teets: It's not a satellite system in and of itself; it is an evolving architecture. We have an architecture today that is made up of a lot of stovepipes. And what we're trying to do is get to an architecture that is fully connected in, integrated across all the services -- Navy, Army, Air Force, the intelligence community and yes, NASA, too.
Q: So the individual services will still generate their own requirements and report up to the office?
Teets: The individual services will still be doing the buying activity, the acquisition services, and they'll be doing it in conjunction with or in response to overlying requirements levied by this Transformational Comm. Office.
Q: Question -- if I could just follow up on the legacy issue: are there any systems that you have decided they would just confuse matters to put them into the mix, and therefore, since they're going to be phased out over the course of our doing this, we're not going to touch them; we're just going to leave them there as they are? And secondly, also unrelated, but talk just about the funding issue: Who adjudicates funding priorities if something comes down to buying more terminals or upgrading existing ones so they'll be compatible?
Teets: Well, the individual services will continue to be responsible for the acquisition of their own terminals. But they won't be doing that in a vacuum; they'll be doing that with full knowledge and support of what are the technical requirements for those terminals and what is the synchronization to bring those terminals on line.
And this is probably a good opportunity for me to ask Rand to come on up here and participate here in some of this question-and-answer period. So, Rand Fisher, why don't you take the next couple questions here? (Soft laughter.)
REAR ADMIRAL RAND FISHER (director, Transformational Communications Office): Yes, sir.
Q: Actually, I had the legacy, too. Were there any systems, either ground terminals or space-based, that you said, "They're too old, they're going to be phased out; we're just not going to include them in our architecture analysis"?
Adm. Fisher: What we're going to do first is try to capture what we have today. That exists in a lot of big pieces. I think Mr. Teets has explained the concept very well. For example, there's already kind of a transformation in progress with the global information grid that DISA is shepherding. Left to its own, there would be other improvements made to spacecraft and ground systems. What this office is going to do is take a kind of a comprehensive look at all of the pieces, which includes the legacy, and then work an architecture, and out of that architecture will fall out, in time, systems that will be phased out and those that aren't.
But we haven't made any decisions. The office has just -- yes, sir?
Q: There was a recent conference -- this week -- and it talked about things like laser communications and eliminating a lot of the bandwidth restrictions, and talked about the concept of taking laser communications into space, tying it into fiber-optic communications on land, to have, you know, adequate bandwidth across the spectrum.
Here what you're talking about coordinating -- you know, space assets, land assets -- and you're going to run into some protocol problems. Is this office going to be the one that would have the authority to address or referee whatever fights start when you get to the junction points?
Adm. Fisher: Well, we're going to look at all the technologies, and clearly laser communications is one of the technologies we'll be looking at.
But remember, what this is going to do -- this is going to bring together representatives of all of the organizations that currently are involved in communications -- the intelligence community, NRO, the DOD elements, DISA -- and what we're going to do is bring those folks together and together come up with the architecture, and then we're going to go execute it, as Mr. Teets said, in kind of the lanes that are there.
So what we would be doing is framing issues and teeing them up for the group to make, making recommendations to Mr. Teets, to the services, to DISA, in terms of how we would go forward.
Yes. I'll get back to you in a second.
Q: Can you talk a little bit in more broad terms about what lessons you've learned from the war on terrorism and the war in Afghanistan that have made this an imperative, to create this joint office, or this -- you know, just step back a little bit and say, you know, what is it that you have to accomplish in the broad scheme of things and how the experience on the ground has -- ?
Adm. Fisher: I think one of the things we've learned since the late '80s and early '90s is that when we have a problem, we don't always have the connectivity, either in terms of access or bandwidth, that we need. And that applies, as we know, not only to the DOD segment, but our military and industrial complex as well. You're seeing that as a tremendous effort in the homeland security arena is the desire to more tightly close these connective links. So one of the things that this office is going to try to do is kind of re-vector the road that we're on. If we continue to take the same road, we know that we aren't going to get where we need to go. That was one of the outcomes of the study that General Ferrell ran. So it's our ambition to be able to change that road -- and it'll be changed in a sequenced arena in time -- to allow us in simple words to get information from anywhere on the earth to anywhere on the earth, and in a short fashion. And I think that's the key.
Back there. Yes, sir.
Q: Yes, sir. This architecture that we're creating helps streamline the communications between DOD, the intel community, and NASA. Are any efforts or hands being offered to any of our allies to kind of weigh in on this to help us ensure we have kind of compatible communications systems between our allies for combined operations?
Adm. Fisher: I think Mr. Teets mentioned that the key to this office is that we are using and leveraging all of the interfaces that currently exist so that this -- the same systems today that connect with our allies and that we get requirements for have been forecasted. And what this office will try to do is capture all of these requirements and continue dialogue through the organizational elements that bring it together. So the short answer is, yes.
Q: Can you just clarify how is the -- how are the activities of this office, how will they be different than what DISA is already doing with the development of the global information grid? A lot of it sounds almost exactly the same -- giving worldwide compatibility. What is different with this new --
Adm. Fisher Well, I would like to give you a brief answer, but then possibly invite General Raduege up and give you his perspective.
But just, the brief answer is that DISA is already engaged in the global information grid, and in my stewardship of the NRO Com Directorate, I work with elements at DISA to understand where that's going. This office is designed to be a part of that global information grid and to work with it so that we can make all these connections as opposed to kind of leave it to chance.
And with that, General Raduege? Let me ask "Mr. DISA" himself to come up.
Gen.Raduege: Well, I think Mr. Teets and Rand Fisher have described that very well. Let me just add that the global information grid is something that encompasses all that we do in the Department of Defense and the intelligence community as far as providing communications out to every base, post, camp, station and out to deployed warfighters.
So when we're talking about this transformational communications study that was conducted, and then putting together an architecture, we're talking about an architecture that gets at those points of putting wide-band communications into space, and the fact that laser communications are being looked at. We have laser communications terrestrially that we have with our DISA products, and that provides us with very high bandwidth type connectivity. We don't want to run into a roadblock or slow down that kind of connectivity capacity when we go into space. We want to be able to provide that same type of capacity to deployed warfighters around the world. So this becomes part of this global information grid. And laser communications, both terrestrially and through space, would provide that kind of high capacity and high bandwidth that we're looking for tomorrow's wars, and the one that we have today.
One thing that we're learning -- the lessons learned question just a little while ago -- is that with each conflict that we have, we certainly increase the amount of bandwidth that is required for our deployed warfighters. Those are the kind of things that this architecture is trying to address and come with the answers for the future that we can all build toward.
Q: Just to clarify one more thing, though, wasn't -- I guess I'm a little confused. Wasn't DISA already attempting to integrate the space-based assets with the terrestrial communications assets?
Gen. Raduege: Well, you have to understand DISA provides commercial connectivity. In fact, supporting our warfighters today, we've been able to increase the bandwidth through satellite communications into the Central Command region by 800 percent of what we started from on the 11th of September. So we provide that through commercial means, but the military services provide individual parts of the satellite connectivity pieces. Mr. Teets mentioned MUOS being performed by the Navy, MILSTAR, Defense Communications Satellite Subsystem (DCSS), those types of capacities of satellite communications being performed and put together by the military services. So there are a lot of people who are working in this complex matrix of providing communications. And satellite communications has its various pieces, and as Mr. Teets has mentioned, this office, this effort is to bring together those parts so that we put together our coherent architecture for the future that we can all build toward. And DISA is a vital part of that.
Q: Where will the office be located?
Teets: Rand will set up this office, actually out in the building with the National Security Space Architect out in Fairfax, Virginia. And as I say, it's going to be a relatively small office, 20, 25 people. Rand will spend some portion of his time there, but he also will continue to work at the NRO. Christine will stay located in El Segundo, California, and maintain her role as MILSATCOM SPO director, but also will be deputy director to this TCO so that we have connectivity that way too.
Q: How are you going to work the issue of interfacing with current ongoing design projects? MUOS goes forward, there are going to be design decisions made, some with Advanced EFH. (Inaudible) -- architecture standards that they're all supposed to share at the same time you're going ahead and building these things. How are you going to work that issue?
Teets: Well, that is exactly what Rand's challenge is. Rand will be connected to the various program offices. He will understand the timing and the acquisition cycle. As I say, just as an example, with regard to the AEHF program, we have a decision to make by December of '04 as to whether or not we'll acquire AEHFs 4 and 5, or whether we'll be sufficiently confident that we can connect directly to the transformational comm. architecture.
Q: I have a question about laser communications specifically. You said that it's been done terrestrially, but the U.S. has never done it from satellite to satellite, let alone from satellite to earth. When do you think the first experiments might actually take place proving that you can do that, from satellite to satellite, and then also from satellite to Earth?
Teets: Well, what we intend to do is track the development of this laser comm. technology, understand when we believe that it can come into being, do risk-reduction activity, do demonstrations as appropriate to migrate toward laser comm. capability in space.
Q: And how will that -- work on that fit with the 2004, the December 2004 decision on AEHF?
Teets: Just exactly that way. We will progress in the development of the laser comm. technology between now and 2004. In 2004, we will decide whether or not we have confidence enough to deploy -- whether we have confidence enough to not procure AEHFs 4 and 5 and, rather, rely upon a high bandwidth relay network of some kind using some form of laser comm.
Q: Is there kind of a threshold that you could describe for us what would be a sign that you can move forward?
Teets: Rand, you got any thresholds or signs here?
Q: Markers or milestones that you would like to see by then?
Adm. Fisher: Yeah, we have a number of on ramps and off ramps already planned based on the kind of the current vectors for the programs. And we'll be assessing a number of technologies -- laser comm. is just one of them -- and looking to meet those thresholds. If we meet them, then that would be a positive indicator for one of these gates. If we didn't, then we would have to go in a different direction.
And as you can imagine, with the number of moving parts that we've got, that's a fairly complex road map. So, if you're asking, do I have specific laser comm. gates, yes, but I really don't want to talk about them right now.
Q: Why not?
Adm. Fisher: It's not something that we want to get into right here at this point.
Q: I think what -- you keep mentioning Advanced EHF and that's kind of -- you have to figure out where you're going. That's quite a way off, I mean, if you think about spending plans and engineering decisions. When do you expect to have the first draft of this architecture that you can put forward and, you know, take a year to get approved in this building?
Adm. Fisher: We've already started that work. If you're asking me today, I'd like to try to have something in the next six months. That's kind of an internal goal that I'm looking at to get back to Mr. Teets and the community with so we can move on with this.
Adm Fisher: Yes?
Q: How are we planning to handle the issue of what portions will be and will not be classified, especially when you consider that you'll be dealing with NASA and potentially, you know, issues of allies and things?
Adm Fisher: Right. We develop a security plan that deals with how we're going to work with kind of an expanding community, which includes, you know, the DoD, the intelligence community, allies and beyond. So that also has begun as well.
Q: Do you know when that will be completed? Sir, can you tell us generally what --
Adm Fisher: All this stuff is kind of focused in this next six-month period. Yeah, that -- we can't go, you know, into any kind of a more concrete architecture without that piece as well.
Q: Do you expect the majority of the information to be something like we've seen at the MILSATCOM JPO, which is, you know, you guys can talk about strategies and planning and things, or do you expect the majority to be classified.
Adm Fisher: I'm going to do as much as I can at the unclassified level.
Q: (Chuckling.) Okay. Hm.
Q: This may sound like a dumb question, and I just want to make sure that I understand what you guys are talking about with this office, and I know you've tried to get at this already. But in terms of the office's actual responsibilities, when it comes to buying the satellites or laser plus satellites, the office makes -- is making directions about the architecture to, say, the program office at SMC and then that office still is the one that goes out and buys the satellites, or --
Adm Fisher: Right. Yeah, the concept is for this team that we've tried to describe to you to come together and build the architecture. And if you can imagine, there are a lot of pieces that are already there, and each one of these pieces kind of has its own future today. As I said earlier, if we let all those pieces move down their current future, we don't get where we want to go.
So the people, this team, will come together and build the architecture. We will have regular meetings with senior representatives in the intelligence community and DOD, and it's the belief that once we have that architecture, which includes standards and protocols, then the executing agents, these program offices, will go build parts of the architecture to meet that.
Q: Did you always figure you'd need an office like this? As DoD went ahead on the TCS plan or, you know, as DOD started working on it, did you guys realize that, you know, there's a lot of different constituencies here, and it maybe is a bigger task than you thought to coordinate everything?
Adm Fisher: Well, today, if you look across DoD or the intelligence community, if you look backwards, what you see is multitudes of programs that are fairly stovepiped. And what we're seeing, as a result of what somebody asked earlier, in terms of a question, is that we need to connect these programs. And it's not -- you know, I'm a communications person. But in the Navy we have a Force Net program, which is designed -- an architecture that is designed to link sensors and shooters, for example. So this -- the desire to create architectures which deliver much greater capability than stovepipe programs is what's driving this thought. And the time is right for that now. I think Mr. Teets indicated we've got a great opportunity now.
Q: Can you talk about how the office is staffed, how many Army versus Navy people, and whether or not they'll be, like, technical experts there?
Adm. Fisher: I haven't gotten there yet. But I've had contact with all of the services and agencies and believe that it'll be as Mr. Teets said: in our parlance, a real purple organization. And we'll have both some technical support as well as some architectural engineering and budget support in that office.
Q: To follow up on my earlier question and sort of tie in with something that you just said, that, you know, if -- (laughs) -- if you continue down the road that you're on you're not going to get where you want to go. Can you kind of succinctly explain where you want to go, but also talk about whether there were any failures, anything that you can talk about that made that obvious to you?
Teets: Where we want to go is high bandwidth and terrific access. Anybody that wants to have access that's cleared and part of the national security community should be able to get access. And that access should be to high bandwidth communications. If you want to have a streaming video from a Predator available here in Washington D.C., you ought to be able to get that, et cetera, to other analogies. So where we want to go is very much higher bandwidth than we have today, and also very much better access to individual warfighters.
Q: But was there any intelligence failure, or was there any particular failure that made that clear to you, that, you know, especially in context --
Teets: No. I don't put it in the context of failure. I think that we clearly have demonstrated that we have much, much better connectivity, we have much, much better communications capability today than we did 10 years ago. But as we look out and we see the changing face of this warfighting capability, we see enormous demands on bandwidth, frankly, and on access requirements. So it's really a combination of both those two things: access and bandwidth. And we see this demand "exponentiating" and our -- if we continue down our current path of just simply pushing out the systems that are currently on the drawing board, we're not going to meet that demand. And so what Rand is talking about is finding a way to blend, synchronize, create this architecture which will provide much more access and much higher bandwidth.
Q: Sir, you said previously, I think, in a previous roundtable with reporters, that if you decide not to purchase AEHF 4 and 5, in effect, the acquisition costs will have gone up, it will be a Nunn- McCurdy breach for that program -- not because the program itself has gotten more expensive, but just the unit cost. Well, at that point, do you think you'll have to actually restructure the program, or you'll simply lay out the case and say, "Well, we've gone a different direction; nothing's really gone wrong"? How do you think you'll deal with that if you decide not to purchase this?
Teets: Well, I think the latter; I think it's kind of a technical issue at this point as to what -- as to whether or not there will be a Nunn-McCurdy breach. There won't be a Nunn-McCurdy breach if we buy the five satellites that are currently planned. If we buy three, and you divide a fixed cost by a smaller number, you get a larger number as the quotient. And so it's sort of a technicality, in a way -- is that, if we only buy three AEHF satellites, there would be a technical breach to Nunn-McCurdy. But I'm certain that the Congress will understand that and will have a plan forward.
Q: Mr. Secretary, all of your comments seem to be directed at meeting this growing demand. Is this office going to be involved at all in trying to control the appetites of various users for bandwidth or communications, or you're just resolved that you're going to make it available to everybody?
Teets: Well, before it's all over, we probably -- we may well have to do some belt-tightening. But if you look at the technology that is conceivably available today, that you introduce laser comm. into the equation, you kind of see a picture wherein perhaps the technology would support enough increase in bandwidth that you really can satisfy the needs going forward. Now I say that with some hesitation, because 10 years from now, chances are the demands will even surpass the capacity at that point in time. But I'm just saying, if we can get a factor of 10 on bandwidth and a factor of 10 or even more on accessibility, we will have gone a long way toward satisfying the appetites as we see them developing.
Q: But the office is not really going to be involved in adjudicating who should have what amount of bandwidth or amount of comms?
Teets: That's correct. The office will look at the -- I'll say the technology evolution, and provide as much bandwidth as we can. We'd like to really, ultimately, eliminate bandwidth as a constraint.
Q: How much has this effort been driven by the war on terrorism? We first started really hearing about it after it began, but is that a coincidence?
Teets: Well, I think the war on terrorism has driven a slightly accelerated pace of change in warfighting capability. I mean, unmanned aerial vehicles, Predators that are streaming video, the vision of Global Hawks downstream that will have sensors that have very high data-rate communication requirements -- all of that drives this vision of, downstream, having huge bandwidth requirements. And so it's not the war on terrorism itself, it's the evolving state of technology, it's the evolving state of warfighting means.
Q: If that weren't going on right now, would you still expect to be working on this system at this time?
Teets: For sure we would be working on it. There wouldn't be the sense of urgency that perhaps we feel today. And I think the resource allocations would be more difficult. But we see it today as a necessary next step for enabling the kind of warfighting that we intend to be doing.
How about two more questions?
Q: One of the pitfalls that some skeptics often outline for architectural folks is that they don't have money and they don't necessarily have the ability to say "you can, you can't." So how do you ensure that, for instance, the Army terminal programs align correctly with the laser comm. schedule and, you know, the Navy terminal programs and all of that? Will that be your executive agent job or --
Teets: Perhaps to some degree it will be my executive agency job. Although the way I see it is Rand's job at the TCO, and Christine's job at the TCO is going to be to make the Army aware of when certain terminals with certain protocols for interfacing and all should be available. It'll be up to the Army to go implement that in their POM cycle and do the acquisitions so that their warfighters can have terminals that are compatible. But the knowledge will be there. I see Rand's job as making that knowledge available to the Army, to the Air Force, to the Navy. And once the TCO has made that knowledge available, I guess I'm going to be counting on the Army to be doing the right thing for acquiring their terminals. And --
Q: Is there an "or else"? (Laughs.)
Q: Is there an "or else"? You know, if they don't --
Teets: Well, I don't know if there's an "or else." If I see something amiss -- I mean, the Army wants the right terminals at the right time to do their warfighting. There's no question in my mind about that. And if I see that they're on a path not to get that, I'll certainly make Secretary White aware of that. And I know he cares. So I don't think this is a case of arm-twist; it's a case of connect with development, plans, schedules. And there are a lot of moving parts to this whole transformational comm. system.
Last question. Please.
Q: Do you see eventually getting to the point like Institute of Electrical & Electronics Engineers (IEEE) has their standards that they put out that -- you know, technical standards so that everyone can kind of coordinate? Do you eventually see the TCO coming out with something like that, or will you stay at more the program level?
Teets: Rand, I'll let you handle that one.
Adm. Fisher: Yeah, I certainly hope so. I think that's the concept of bringing this larger group together, so that we can capture the standards. No, we do have a lot of standards and protocols today, if you look at even within DoD. But of course, our model is looking more Internet-like: How can we bring lots of different operators and participants in this? So I'm hopeful that we'll be able to do that, you bet.
Teets: Rand, Ron just made me aware -- Lin, did you have something you wanted to offer? Lin Wells from OSD C-cubed I.
Wells: I just wanted to point out the other -- another lever in this is the DOD Chief Information Officer (CIO) has an overall responsibility for interoperability. And the Klinger-Cohen act gives you budget levers to pursue that, as well, in addition to backing up the TCO and the space and the ground segments, there's an overall Global Information Grid Waiver Board. There's a whole process about whether or not activities are, in fact, complying with the standards and the interoperability and the interface. There's -- so there are a number of levers that can be brought to bear.
Teets: Thank y'all very much
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