Defense Issues: Volume 11, Number 98-- Space: Fourth Medium of Military Operations
It's a great pleasure for me, as the AF's [Air Force's] newest four-star, to be standing here today to address this prestigious gathering.
I'm going to spend a couple minutes with you today to talk about a topic that's germane to our present and future as an air force and an association -- that is the topic of core competencies of the Air Force which are our essential reasons for existing as a force in support of our nation's defense.
[Retired Air Force] Gen. John A. Shaud [former chief of staff, Supreme Headquarters, Allied Powers Europe] has asked me to speak to you about the role Air Force Space Command will play in the new core competencies of the Air Force.
Before I do this, however, I'd like to lay a little groundwork, which will allow me to put the Air Force's role in space and the Air Force's core competencies into the perspective I see from my point of view as both the commander in chief of United States Space Command and commander of Air Force Space Command, its largest component.
To begin, it must be made clear that space is becoming, or some would say space has become, the fourth medium in which the military operates in the protection of our national security interests. This is not a surprising development nor should it be either feared or welcomed. It is simply a fact.
In earliest times, land warfare was conducted between tribes of ascendant man in competition for the limited resources available only through hunting and gathering. Land forces were born.
In time, our interests evolved to the use of rivers and oceans because travel by water offered certain inherent advantages of speed and maneuver both for conducting commerce and warfare. These advantages and the need to protect them led to the construction of naval fleets.
Early in this century, mankind evolved land/sea operations to land/sea operations supported from the air. As this century progressed, the air component grew to be indispensable to the protection of our nation's vital interests.
In the last decade of this century, we made yet another giant leap forward. Land, sea and air operations are now supported from space. It would appear to be an inevitable outcome that early in the next century, space systems will become as indispensable to our success as airpower.
Taking another look back in time can help us better understand where space is headed in another way. If we examine the evolutionary development of the aircraft, we see uncanny parallels to the current evolution of spacecraft. Known well to us, visionary and courageous individuals, at the turn of this century, hobby-shopped, experimented, prototyped and eventually achieved the goal of powered, winged flight. Man could fly!
The potential of aircraft was not recognized immediately. Their initial use was confined to observation and signal until one day the full advantage of applying force from the air was realized. And the rest is history.
So, too, with the business of space. We, as a military, have moved into space, at first with observation and signal. Today, we call it intelligence and communications.
These space operations, like the land, sea and air operations that evolved before them, will expand the budding new missions already included in the charter of U.S. Space Command of space control and force application as they become more and more critical to our national security interests.
With all this in mind, it is imperative that as an Air Force we determine where we want to go and how we are going to get there.
Let's first discuss where is it we want to go. There is no shortage of guidance about this.
On Sept. 19 , the president released his national space policy. This policy, among many other things, directs the nation to maintain its pre-eminent position as the world's No. 1 space power in order to assure support for terrestrial military/civil operations. Like airpower, control and access to the benefits of space, spacepower, must be maintained and protected.
Even today, terrestrial land and sea operations can only be conducted successfully by those who control the air and space above the battlefield. To effectively carry out this national-level guidance, DoD must improve its ability to support terrestrial operations worldwide. We have to get the benefits provided by space-based systems into the hands of the warfighter at the right time.
A good example of this is the navigation data provided by the global positioning system. The data from this system is available everywhere as a simple radio broadcast. Unfortunately, much of the other space-based information we need to get to the warfighter is not as easy to provide as navigation data, but solutions to our more difficult requirements are being developed.
We must, also, be able to monitor and respond to the strategic military threats facing our nation and at the same time support our diplomatic efforts to monitor arms control and nonproliferation agreements.
There are weapons systems in the world which, contrary to popular belief, we have limited or no defense against. Good examples are ballistic and cruise missiles. The strength of our conventional forces gives us some deterrent capability against countries with rational leaders. But as we have all seen, terrorists, rogue states and nonstate actors continue to seek international recognition through all means at their disposal.
To at least partially defend ourselves against these threats, we must continue to support development of a theater missile defense system for our forward-deployed forces and a limited ballistic missile defense system for North America.
I say ballistic missile defense for North America because we have begun to dialogue with our Canadian friends on their involvement in this very important project. We can extend the umbrella of this system to all of North America.
It is important to note that in the future our forces and our nation will be at risk from not only ballistic missiles but also cruise missiles. We must protect against both. Further, we must be able to assure friendly access to space and, if necessary, counter hostile terrestrial or space systems attempting to deny us this access.
We are accomplishing our goals of assured access by building a new family of expendable launch vehicles as part of the evolved expendable launch vehicle program and are working closely with NASA as they develop the technology for a fleet of reusable space vehicles.
Now, further guidance, in keeping with the national space policy is provided by [Army] Gen. [John M.] Shalikashvili, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in his recently released Joint Vision 2010 document describing future joint operations.
He lists four operational concepts as key to future success on the battlefield. They are dominant maneuver, precision engagement, full-dimensional protection and focused logistics.
We've considered the implications of the national space policy and the chairman's Joint Vision 2010 and have used them to develop our own USSPACECOM [U.S. Space Command] Vision 2010.
It encompasses four operational concepts. They are control of space, global engagement, full force integration and global partnerships.
These concepts implement the national level and chairman's policy and vision and provide appropriate guidance to USSPACECOM's three component commands -- Army, Navy and Air Force space commands.
Going one step further, the Air Force and Air Force Space Command have analyzed these operational concepts carefully since the end of the Cold War and have evolved new core competencies which represent our best hope of meeting the air and space challenges of today as well as preparing for those of tomorrow.
These new core competencies, developed at Corona [meeting of four-star Air Force generals] fall 96, include air and space superiority, global attack, information superiority, rapid global mobility, precision engagement and agile combat support.
Upon examination, one can clearly see that there is a connection, a thread, running between the guidance provided by the national space policy, the chairman's Joint Vision 2010, the USSPACECOM Vision 2010 and the Air Force's core competencies. Space is an integral part of our current three-dimensional focus for military operations and is quickly evolving as a fourth dimension in its own right.
Now, how will Air Force Space Command support these visions, these goals? The near- to midterm path is largely set. Space Command must continue to press with in-place and evolving programs such as the evolved expendable launch vehicle, space-based infrared system, Milstar [military strategic and tactical relay system], global broadcast service and the joint broadcast system we're testing in Bosnia, ICBM force modernization, Air Force satellite control network upgrade, the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program merger with the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, just to name a few. These programs are successfully responding to clear, military requirements for the near- to midterm.
But what of the new evolving requirements? In operational terms, we can unequivocally say that dominant maneuver will not be possible if the enemy knows our every move.
We will help deny the enemy access to space and to our dispositions and plans through successful execution of space control and space-based information warfare. The Air Force will perform these missions for USSPACECOM as part of its core competencies.
Conversely, we will know exactly where to maneuver and in what strength, at what time and with what composition to have the greatest impact on the enemy. We will be able to do this because we will know with a high degree of accuracy where the enemy is and what they plan to do. This high degree of precision may even allow us to avert many future conflicts before they can begin.
In a similar vein, full-dimensional warfare, precision engagement and focused logistics will not be possible without Air Force Space Command's ability to support U.S. Space Command in executing space control and full force integration and to provide the information derived, processed and disseminated via space-based systems and services.
So, where are we?
Similar to the eight decades of aircraft evolution, spacecraft are quickly evolving beyond the missions of surveillance and communications. This is happening for the same reasons it did with aircraft. Satellite surveillance and communications services are very, very effective contributors to success on the modern battlefield. The civil, commercial, scientific and military benefits derived from space are growing in importance and influence as key contributors to the instruments of America's national power.
The contributions to the political and diplomatic instruments of national power are embodied in the philosophy of Sun Tzu's "know your enemy and know yourself." We now have the ability to know and monitor the world situation on a daily basis. As each day passes, we gain more and more capability. Soon it will be on an hourly basis and eventually within minutes or seconds.
The contributions to the military instrument of national power are represented by the ability to "surveil," characterize and assess hostile forces and intentions, and communicate the commander's intent to our forces in the field. But we must beware.
The huge success and power represented by our space endeavors are a double-edged sword. Our political and diplomatic instruments of national power would be severely limited if access to space is lost. Loss of commercial and military communications, loss of access to weather and navigation data, and loss of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance would be crippling to a society so dependent upon space assets as America is today!
We are the world's most successful spacefaring nation, one of the major reasons the U.S. holds its current position in today's league of nations. But we are also the world's most space-dependent nation, thereby making us vulnerable to hostile groups or powers seeking to disrupt our access to and use of space.
For this reason, it is vital to our national security that we protect and safeguard our interests in space. The ability of our potential adversaries to affect our advantage in space is growing. We in military space are just now beginning to consider and deal with these threats. We are truly at the threshold of a new era in both the peaceful and hostile uses of space.
So what are the implications for Air Force Space Command?
In the decades that follow, we will develop robust capabilities for control of space to both protect and assure our access to and use of space. We will preserve and evolve advanced core military space capabilities while making full use of civil, commercial and international space capabilities.
We will continue to assure and expand space contributions to battlespace awareness and worldwide vigilance. We will be prepared, if and when directed by our civilian leadership, to expand our space force application mission in support of our national security needs.
In short, we will begin, as an air force, to migrate many of our current missions into space.
How will we get there? What's our way ahead?
Planning for the way ahead has already begun. We will continue to provide maximum support to acquisition and requirements reforms well under way at every level of our government and DoD. We will continue to be a vital team member on USSPACECOM's' space planning and requirements development team.
Implementation of our vision for the future will require us to maintain clear focus in three key areas -- organization, doctrine and technology. We've forecasted major program requirements to meet our space missions for the next 25 years. These forecasts provide us with insight into where good opportunities lie for us to best implement and phase in changes to systems, organizations and doctrine.
Well, what is my bottom line as USCinCSPACE [commander in chief, U.S. Space Command] and commander, Air Force Space Command?
It is clear that spacecraft are evolving in much the same way as aircraft did. The similarities in evolution are striking. The fourth medium -- space -- is rapidly developing.
Today's space missions are focused on communications and intelligence support to the regional warfighthers. Similar to the aircraft's focus early on. But just as the aircraft moved to control of the air and force application, so, too, will the missions of control of space and force application be increasingly important to us in the future.
We in America's space business must be prepared for this eventuality. Clearly the pace at which we move to space and the critical decisions about which missions we carry out will be made based on the policies established by our civilian leadership. But it is our job to begin the dialogue now, to start the planning, so that if and when we are asked, we are ready to move ahead.
And so as we plan for the future, the importance of a vision and core competencies become extremely important to us. They help us set the vector, determine the path, pick the right road among many as we strive to accomplish what America asks its military to do on land and sea, in the air and now, in space -- "to ensure our survival as a nation and secure the lives and property of our citizens."
Published for internal information use by the American Forces Information Service, a field activity of the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs), Washington, D.C. Parenthetical entries are speaker/author notes; bracketed entries are editorial notes. This material is in the public domain and may be reprinted without permission. Defense Issues is available on the Internet via the World Wide Web at http://www.defenselink.mil/speeches/index.html.