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Remarks at the National Space Symposium

As Delivered by Deputy Secretary of Defense William J. Lynn, III, Broadmoor Hotel, Colorado Springs, Colorado, Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Thank you Bill. 

And thank you for your work on behalf of government and industry over the years.
 
I would like to begin this morning by acknowledging my NASA colleagues. 
 
For both NASA and DoD, the 21st Century began with events that jarred our nation: the 9/11 attacks, the Columbia accident, and two wars that we are still engaged in.
 
These events were not only traumatic on their own terms. They also raised fundamental questions about how our organizations should be structured and resourced to achieve their missions. 
 
Today, both NASA and DoD remain in states of transition. 
 
Many of the activities that have defined our institutions for decades now play a smaller role in the world we live in now. Fiscal pressures are forcing hard choices. And on top of this, the environment we each work in—space—is itself changing.  
 
Both NASA and the Department of Defense need to adapt.  
 
General Bolden talked yesterday about his vision for civil space. 
Tomorrow, as I’m sure you’ve heard, the President will expand on that vision. 
 
Today, I would like to lay out DoD’s strategy to address the changing space environment, and the challenges it poses to military space.
 
Our space assets, as General Kehler said yesterday, grant us four critical advantages. 
 
They allow us to strike with precision, to navigate with accuracy, to communicate with certainty, and to see the battlefield with clarity. 
 
These advantages make US forces more accurate and agile than ever before. They extend the range and effectiveness of our military power. In short, they have changed the very nature of warfare.
 
Today, space assets are crucial to almost every aspect of our operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Satellites relay the commands of pilots who fly UAVs from half a world away. GPS technology supports the targeting of precision munitions essential to counterinsurgency operations. 
 
Space assets also provide the bandwidth for communication bridges that allow morale calls home. They enable the satellite-linked intrusion detection systems that prevent tampering in supply convoys. And they help guide GPS-enabled parachutes that precision-drop supplies to remote bases. 
 
The integration of space-based capabilities in our military today is so seamless and so ubiquitous that forward-deployed units forget that many of the capabilities that they depend upon touch space every minute of every day. 
 
A whole architecture of capabilities makes this possible. 
 
We are in the midst of a Space Posture Review that is examining each of our space missions and the infrastructure that supports them. 
 
The review affirms the centrality of space to our national security strategy. But it also asserts that developments in space increasingly challenge our current posture. 
 
The Space Posture Review starts from the premise that space has become congested, competitive, and contested. 
 
Let me elaborate on that simple description. 
 
Space has become congested with both satellites and debris. More than 60 nations operate 1,100 systems on orbit. 
 
And satellites are not the only thing crowding space. 20,000 known pieces of orbital debris also clutter the skies over earth. Tens of thousands more pieces are too small to reliably track, but are still dangerous to spacecraft operations. The increase in orbital debris and working satellites poses operational challenges to both military and civil space.
 
Space has also become more competitive. More nations work in space than ever before. Numerous and diverse commercial actors offer rival systems and services. By one count, more than 9,000 satellite transponders will be active by 2015. 
 
Some satellites work together in systems that many different nations cooperatively run or benefit from. GPS is an example of a space technology with widespread benefits. 
 
But most satellites operate on their own, serving the needs of their client rather than the common good.
 
Whatever their purpose and ownership, the sheer number of communication satellites raises the specter of interference. 
 
We are approaching a point at which the limitless frontier no longer seems quite so limitless. 
 
Finally, space is becoming contested.  We can no longer take access to space for granted.
 
Some nations have jammed satellite signals to prevent their people from watching coverage of protests. Other nations have developed the ability to destroy satellites in low-earth orbit. And still other nations have technologies that can disable or permanently damage space platforms.
 
Our space assets could be targeted as part of a deliberate strategy to deny us access to the space domain. By crippling key sensors and platforms, such anti-access tactics could offset the tremendous conventional dominance our space assets enable us to bring to bear.
 
Never before have our space assets been so vulnerable to disruption.
 
Since the environment in space has changed, our approach must change as well. We need a new strategy that takes into account the congested, competitive, and contested space environment that we operate in.
 
Our new strategy will involve three elements: establishing norms of behavior in space, utilizing interdependence of space systems as an asset, and denying any benefits from space attacks.
 
The first element of the strategy is to develop norms that all nations should observe in space.
 
At a minimum, space-faring nations need means to cooperatively track debris and alert each other about possible conjunctions between spacecraft. Satellite operators should also minimize interference along the spectrum.
 
We are already working to provide improved space situational awareness to our partners. But the larger question is how we strengthen cooperation among other nations. 
 
Space technology offers tremendous commercial and military opportunities.   But it also comes with responsibilities as well. We need shared “rules of the road” in space to provide predictability in the congested environment space has become.
 
The second element of our new strategy is selective interdependence.
 
Space has become a competitive place, with many rival actors maneuvering for advantage. 
 
In this competitive environment, we need to protect our core capabilities in certain areas, like surveillance and command and control. 
 
But in other areas—such as environmental monitoring and perhaps even missile warning—our shared interests open the door to possible cooperation between nations.
 
Just as economic ties in an increasingly globalized world may make conflict less likely, ties in space have the prospect to influence countries to behave toward one another in a positive manner. 
 
Today, the economies of many nations rely on commercial GPS signals for navigation and timing. The wide reliance on GPS acts as a deterrent against attack on the constellation of GPS satellites. 
 
An attack on a U.S. GPS satellite today is in effect an attack on all countries who use it. 
 
Our strategy must take advantage of the increasingly competitive dynamics of space, and the forms of interdependent relationships they enable. The very presence of interoperable systems might induce international cooperation on a number of levels, including the deterrence of attacks. 
 
But even if we maximize the interdependence of our systems, adversaries will still have incentives to contest our operations in space. So denying adversaries any benefit from an attack in space is the third element of our new strategy. 
 
There are several ways we can minimize incentives to contest space. 
 
We can protect existing systems through tactics that limit their vulnerability. We can build in redundancies that make our systems more resilient. And we can be ready to rapidly augment our capabilities or to reconstitute them in the event of an attack.  
 
Replacement satellites, and even aircraft, unmanned platforms, and other cross-domain solutions, can temporarily mitigate the loss of space assets.  
 
In this context, our Operationally Responsive Space program can help us counter threats to our space capabilities.  
 
By building systems on smaller satellites using modular components, ORS gives us the ability to rapidly augment our space systems. ORS can deliver capabilities in a fraction of the time it takes to build larger platforms.
 
The first ORS satellite will support operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. We are on track to meet our goal of going from program start to launch in 24 months. I hope to see ORS-1 in space, delivering capability for the Central Command, within the year.
 
We are also pursuing longer-term approaches to reducing our vulnerability. One of the most innovative—if perhaps further out—solutions emerging from DARPA is called spacecraft fractionation.
 
The idea is to avoid the vulnerabilities of a single large platform by breaking up space systems into many component parts. These parts would then be broadly distributed in space, but connected together through a wireless network. 
 
In theory, fractionated platforms accomplish many objectives at once. They are harder to attack. They are easier to augment. And the disaggregated nature of their components makes it possible for smaller developers to enter the military satellite market. 
 
In the end, there is no silver bullet solution to a space environment that is contested. Instead, we require a strategy that encompasses a broad range of responses.
 
As space becomes more congested, competitive, and contested, we face both risks that threaten to erode our overwhelming advantage in space and opportunities to strengthen our security. We need a multi-faceted strategy to address the ways in which the operational environment of space is changing. 
 
To preserve the battlefield advantages that space confers, we have to work with others to develop a shared set of rules for space operations, explore how to use the principle of interdependence to our advantage, and provide strong disincentives for those who might consider contesting access to space.
 
The need for norms in space, the selective interdependence of space systems, and the denial of benefits from attack are important elements of our new space strategy. 
 
But equally important is operating effectively in the challenging fiscal climate our nation faces.
 
In his State of the Union address, President Obama announced a spending freeze on all domestic agencies. At the same time, the President made a strategic choice to continue funding real budget growth in the national security agencies. 
 
As we fight two wars and face new threats, the President believes that budget increases are needed to protect our national security. 
 
But even with these increases, some of the costs embedded in our budget are growing faster than the budget as a whole. Health-care, wages and benefits, and some of our most advanced weapons systems are likely to continue growing faster than the overall budget.
 
This presents a dilemma. 
 
Either the Department, in partnership with the industrial base that supports us, can become more efficient. Or else, we will be eventually forced to reduce programs, and ultimately to diminish capabilities. 
 
Our challenging fiscal climate also means that large amounts of new investment are unlikely to materialize in most of the mission areas. 
 
Our space industry will have to overcome the operational challenges I just outlined while operating in a cost-constrained environment. We will have to work together to reliably manage the development of new capabilities within tight budgetary constraints.
 
And as you know, we have had some real challenges in the space acquisition business in recent years. We still have a long way to go. 
 
But after a lot of hard work, by many of the people in this room, next year promises to be a remarkable one for military space.
 
We plan to launch the next block of GPS satellites, the first new protected SATCOM satellite, Advanced E-H-F, and the first new space-based space surveillance satellite. The first SBIRS-GEO satellite is also schedule to launch within a year.
 
To ensure acquisition outcomes continue to be successful and continue to improve across the Department, we are taking several steps. 
 
In many cases, we found the Department simply wasn’t a smart buyer.
 
So over the next five years, we are increasing our acquisition workforce, hiring 9,000 new employees and converting 11,000 contractors to federal service. 
 
This will strengthen our in-house expertise in cost estimation, systems engineering, and program management. We are making sure we get the right people, not just the right number of them. We are on track today to hire all 20,000 in the next five years.
 
We are also bringing more discipline to the front end of acquisition process—the requirements. 
 
Programs are often at fault for adding late requirements, which cause costs to balloon and production schedules to slip. 
 
We’ve added configuration steering boards will help stabilize requirements early, and help us better understand and balance performance needs with cost and schedule limitations. 
 
To reduce the risk of cost overruns once a program is underway, we are relying more on independent cost estimates, as Congress and the President have directed. And in many programs across the Department, we are strengthening the execution phase with a greater use of fixed-price contracts, which ensure both the government and contractor are fully committed to a defined cost-structure. 
 
Finally, acquisition reform in the end requires the discipline to cancel programs that either aren't working or aren't needed. 
 
Secretary Gates has demonstrated this discipline. 
 
In both the FY 2010 and ‘11 budgets, he has canceled programs that were performing poorly, providing redundant capabilities, or simply funding exotic capabilities that were not central to our security challenges.  
 
If carried to completion, the programs that Secretary Gates canceled would have cost the taxpayer more than $330 billion dollars.
 
The bottom line is that by exercising program discipline we’re able to direct resources to the highest priority needs. 
 
In the aggregate, these tough decisions enhance our ability to protect the American people. 
 
Those of you from industry are crucial partners in our effort to improve acquisition. 
 
We are doing our very best to remain sensitive to the market constraints you work within. The increasingly competitive market for space services is proving hard to navigate for both vendors and their military clients.   
 
In light of this new competitiveness, the Space Industrial Base Council looks continually at the capabilities of the base. The council helps us ensure we have the industrial capacity to execute our national space strategy. 
 
Within AT&L, we also have an industrial policy office that is working to provide a more holistic view of the space industrial base, both commercial and governmental. 
 
Our heightened focus on industrial policy comes at a difficult time in the space industry. The on-going realignment in civil space, together with competition from outside the United States, has placed new stress on the vendor base. Third and fourth tier suppliers face real business uncertainty.
 
On a broader level, we face a problem that we simply can’t buy our way out of. 
 
In the past, the first course of action in resolving an industrial base problem, whether programmatic or technical, was to simply spend additional dollars. 
 
In our current fiscal climate, it would be difficult, and irresponsible, to pursue this approach across the board. So we have to find new ways to achieve stability in the industrial base, while at the same time meeting the needs of our warfighter and of the taxpayer. 
 
We are working to achieve this objective in two ways. 
 
First, by improving cooperation and transparency between government and industry, we can improve stability without increasing cost. 
 
Secretary Gates and I are making a concerted attempt to meet more frequently with industry leaders. 
 
My presence here today is part of that effort to increase dialogue and trust.
 
The second way we can protect the industrial base is through ensuring stability in our investment programs. 
 
The President’s decision to provide sustained real growth in the defense budgets will help ensure that stability. It will avoid the situation where growth in operational budgets forces draconian cuts in both R&D and investment programs.
 
In the end, we need a partnership where the government provides predictability and industry responds with performance.
 
In the current competitive space economy, we also need to avoid saddling our domestic space industry grapple with an outdated export control regime.
 
The current export control regime is based on laws devised at the height of the Cold War to prevent the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact from accessing superior Western technology.
 
Accordingly, these laws restrict the export of any equipment that could potentially be used in military applications—no matter how far-fetched. 
 
While the Soviet Union is gone. The Warsaw Pact has disappeared. The world is now a very different place. But our export control regulations have not kept pace.
 
Today, we do not evaluate whether commercial articles are the product of unique capabilities that cannot be obtained in any other way. We do not evaluate the actual risk of equipment being someday used against us. And we do not take into account the greater control we gain from selling the technology ourselves. 
 
And we do all of this as slowly and bureaucratically as possible. 
 
As a result, the most technologically advanced nation in the world is the least able to use its technology to aid our allies, even when they are fighting along side us. 
 
And in the process, some of our most dynamic industries are prevented from accessing international markets. 
 
Sub-tier suppliers have even gone out of business for not being able to export their products.
 
Our system of export control is so prohibitive that it has actually become a selling point for non-U.S. manufacturers. 
 
One of their principal forms of advertising is to note that there is no ITAR component in their system, so the U.S. licensing system can be avoided. Our current export control regime costs us jobs and fails to protect our security. 
 
The President and Secretary Gates both recognize the self-imposed folly of this system, and the White House has begun a government-wide review.
 
A system of export control that is focused on protecting truly unique capabilities will be far better for our national security, it will be better for our economy, and it will be better for our allies. 
 
In an era where research and development is global, we need an export control regime that builds higher walls around many fewer systems. 
 
At the end of a decade that few could have foreseen, our space systems remain the source of many strategic advantages. We have learned to leverage them in new areas—including counterinsurgency and counter-terrorism missions. 
 
Yet at the same time, the very advantages space systems provide are also the sources of potentially enormous vulnerabilities. 
 
As space becomes more congested, competitive, and contested, we need a strategy that adapts to this new era. 
 
We need to draw on the knowledge the space industry has developed over the past six decades. And, we need to build upon the partnership between government and industry that has led to so many past successes.
 
I am optimistic for the future of our space capabilities because I am optimistic about the unlimited potential of that partnership.
 
Thank you.

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