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Under Secretary of the Air Force Peter Teets Briefs on Space Transformation

Presenter: Under Secretary of the Air Force Peter Teets
February 07, 2002 1:00 PM EDT

(Also participating were Dennis Fitzgerald, deputy director, National Reconnaissance Office; Maj. Gen. Joe Sovey, director of Air Force Space Acquisition; Lt. Gen. Brian Arnold, program executive officer for Air Force Space and commander of Space and Missiles Systems Center; Maj. Gen. (Select) Michael A. Hamel, director of National Security Space Integration; Vice Adm. Richard W. Mayo, director, Space, Information Warfare, Command and Control, OPNAV (N6); Lt. Gen. Joseph M. Cosumano, Jr., commanding general, U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command; U.S. Army Space Command; and National Security Space Architect, Brig. Gen. Stephen J. Ferrell)

Brig. Gen. Ron Rand (Director, Air Force Public Affairs): Good afternoon, everybody. Today's briefing on space transformation will be all on the record. The briefer will be Undersecretary of the Air Force and Director of the NRO [National Reconnaissance Office] Pete Teets. After his opening comments, he'll be glad to take your questions.

Mr. Teets, over to you.

Teets: Thank you, Ron.

Well, good afternoon. I'm pleased to be here, and I would like to start by telling you how honored I am, frankly, to have been given the opportunity to take on this new challenge and do this job. I have enjoyed the strong support from a lot of important players, both in the intelligence community and the Department of Defense. I was appointed on December 13th last, actually. And the support I've received from Secretary of the Air Force Dr. James Roche, the support I've received from the DCI [Director of Central Intelligence] George Tenet, the support from, Secretary Rumsfeld himself has been really gratifying to me and, frankly, empowering. And I feel as if I have an opportunity now to make a difference and move us forward in the national security space arena.

The mission that I've been tasked with is to bring together the military and national elements of space to assure that we're providing the nation with the best national security capabilities while still being good stewards of the American tax dollar. And I should say in terms of the military space equation, I've also enjoyed the support of not only the Air Force, but the Army and Navy as well. And as a matter of fact, we have here today with us Admiral Dick Mayo. And he'll be available for questions, if you like, afterward, as well as General Joe Cosumano from the Army Space and Missile Defense Command. So the support is widespread, and I think there's an evident need for bringing together national security space components.

Our vision for national security space is one which takes advantage of the best we have to offer from both the military and the national space communities, and I intend to create an integrated national security space capability that's better than anything that we have today.

Shown on the left here is a chart that kind of summarizes our key goals to provide this nation with, first of all, universal situational awareness. And I'll just say, in universal situational awareness, that word "universal" has a temporal component as well as a spatial component. And I think what we've found is that in moving ahead with this war on terrorism, it's going to be important for us to have persistent intelligence -- universal in terms of time, but also universal in terms of space, and on the surface, under the surface, et cetera. And so, it's going to be important for us to develop some breakthrough technologies and implement techniques that use the best of both military and national systems to implement the mission, all, of course, in an effort to support the joint war fighting concept that has been so effective in Afghanistan.

It's important that this vitally important space asset be assured -- that is to say, that we have assured access to space -- and that we also are able to protect those assets. I think it vitally important that we have a cadre of space professionals that are dedicated to this mission, and I'm on a course to make certain that we have the best and the brightest involved in this national security space endeavor. We also need to integrate the cultures of our military and intelligence community space professionals. And clearly, our focus will be on mission success.

Now, to make this vision a reality, my first objective is to implement the recommendations of the National Security Space Commission. And to do so, we're going to begin exploiting the best practices of the military space and the NRO communities to make the world's best space forces even better. We're also making a few organizational changes to make this transformation smoother and transparent for our national and military customers. And shown here on my right is an organization chart, which represents an organization that I do intend to implement in the near term. And I'd like to start by just introducing a few of the key players to you and briefing summarizing the roles that they'll play.

I'd start first with Mr. Dennis Fitzgerald. Dennis is currently the deputy director of the NRO. He has played a vitally important role in the transition of my coming on board. Dennis has over 35 years of engineering and space background and experience in both industry but, mostly, frankly, within the NRO community. And he's been a vitally important component in the success that the NRO has enjoyed over the years. He has been doing an outstanding job, frankly, of running the day-to-day operations of the NRO as I begin to focus on the larger national security space equation.

And to that end I have also decided to create a new deputy for military space so that we can have some focus on the military side of the space equation all the time. And I'm in the final throes, frankly, of filling that position, and have in mind an extremely qualified and competent individual, but am not prepared to announce it today.

Another new office that we've created is the Directorate of National Security Space Integration, shown in the bottom middle row here. And this office will be responsible for implementing the best practices of military and national space programs and will help transform our programs and pool our resources to most effectively meet the needs of our military and national customers. I've asked Major General-select Mike Hamel to lead this office. Mike -- Mike is another consummate professional who has over 25 years of space experience, all in the United States Air Force. And I must say that it's unusual to find people in the United States Air Force that have had dedicated careers to the space field, but Mike is surely one of those.

Another one, actually, is Major General Joe Sovey. Joe is the new director of Air Force Space Acquisition with over 25 years of acquisition experience. Again, he's had important roles in the launch systems business, important roles back here in headquarters, Air Force space activity.

Lt. Gen. Brian Arnold is the program executive officer for Air Force Space and commander of Space and Missiles Systems Center at Los Angeles Air Force Base. Brian brings over 30 years of air and space experience and is currently, as I say, commander at Space and Missile Systems Center, but will become the PEO - Program Executive Officer -- for Air Force Space.

Finally, Brigadier General Steve Ferrell. Steve is the new national security space architect. And he brings not only impressive space credentials, but a strong warfighter perspective to space.

Together this makes up a tremendous team to leverage our unparalleled talent from the military, intelligence community and industry to provide the nation with the best space capabilities to meet the challenges of the 21st century.

With that I'll conclude my formal remarks, and we together stand ready to take your questions.

Charlie?

Q: Mr. Teets, you talked about new technologies. A layperson's question for the great unwashed, if you would. What are some of the -- could you give us some examples of the limitations now for gathering intelligence and other information from space, and what new technologies are on the horizon, the kind of thing you want to develop to address that?

Teets: I'd be happy to. One of the things that I think we've learned well from the conflict in Afghanistan is that while the intelligence collection capabilities have been excellent, we need to add persistence to the equation. That is to say, you know, satellites orbit the Earth every -- if they're in low-Earth orbit, every 97 minutes, or thereabouts. And you'd like to have more long-dwell. You'd like to be able to have a focused view of hot spots on the face of the Earth that is not intermittent, but more continuous. And that's what I mean when I talk about universal situational awareness. Universal has this temporal component. You'd like to know all the time what's going on around the face of the globe.

Then the other thing that --

Q: Do you mean more satellites in stationary orbit or --

Teets: That would be one way of achieving it, yes. The other would be to develop new technology -- which will get to the second part of your question, Charlie -- but the other way would be to develop some new technology which would allow us to have excellent collection capabilities at higher altitudes, and higher altitudes are more persistent dwell times.

And then, more directly to your other question, I think one of the great powers of the NRO has been the revolutionary, breakthrough technology that the NRO has made over the course of its 40 years of existence. And I would like very much to see us with additional research and development activity that will allow us to achieve more breakthrough technology. And I think I best leave it at that. But I'll just amplify to just say, find ways to gather intelligence information, find out the enemy's secrets.

Q: When you talk about capabilities, higher altitudes, are there limitations that these satellites at high altitudes and stationary orbit -- are there limitations that they currently have, for instance, listening to telephone conversations or seeing license plates, or whatever? Are there limitations that they have now that you want to --

Teets: Well, I did say that typically speaking, the farther away you are from an object, if you wanted to take its picture, the larger the lens you would need. And so it becomes a question -- a technology question, really, to figure out how to best improve persistence in the collection equation.

Please.

Q: Sir, the early budget request includes a substantial amount of money for acceleration of Space Based Radar. Could you speak a little bit about what activities will be accelerated, how much sooner it might be ready? And as part of that -- those funds were added on apparently as part of the Nuclear Posture Review meeting -- enhancing conventional capabilities. And I don't quite get the connection between the two, so maybe you could speak about that.

Teets: Sure.

I would say that, on the overall question of Space Based Radar, we are in the process right now of putting together an acquisition strategy, and clearly the acquisition strategy needs to be mindful of our new organizational construct, which will allow us to use the best capabilities of both the NRO and the military space operations. So we'll be working hard to find out how we can combine activity in that direction to yield a smart acquisition strategy.

Now as to why or how the additional funding came into being, I'm going to ask General Joe Sovey to come up and maybe handle that. I'm not sure why it was attached to the Nuclear Posture -- line item or whatever, either.

Joe, are you up-to-date with that?

Okay, I'm just --

Mike, can you handle that one?

Okay.

Hamel: Sure.

This is General Mike Hamel, sir.

Sir, I think the real point here is, is that in the December time period, as we're going through the program in the budget-decision process, there was a number of related topics that came together. And at that point in time, there was a series of space programs that was -- that concludes a time that it got brought together in that single package. So there was no direct connection, in terms of the Nuclear Posture Review and its findings and those specific budgetary adds.

Q: With those funds, do you expect that Space Based Radar will be ready sooner than the 2008-2010 time frame?

Hamel: The decision was based upon trying to accelerate from the basic program the ability to be able to feel the initial launch capability by the year 2010, and that would support it in the near years.

Teets: Thanks, Mike.

Yes, please.

Q: Can you talk about organization -- how you're going to work within the building, NRO? Talk a bit about, if you could, about NASA, how you want to work with folks over there -- specifically, this idea of combining Air Force's RLV [Reusable Launch Vehicle] requirements with space-launch initiative. Where do you see that going over the next couple of months?

Teets: Well, I'm interested in exploring that whole notion with NASA.

I should say that I've had a note from Sean O'Keefe, and at the right time I'll be meeting with Sean to discuss that very question.

I know that there have been some wheels put in motion to see if we can't leverage technology, that they're -- they would leverage some from us, we would leverage some from them, in looking at RLV development. And I think it's very worthwhile to do that. I think it wise for us to have a partnership with NASA and help them in ways that are possible for us and vice versa.

So we'll -- I believe historically there have been quarterly meetings. We'll certainly keep that up. When Sean and I meet, why, we'll discuss the details of how we'll go forward together.

Yes, please.

Q: Mr. Teets, I've already heard some criticism from industry about your new organizational plan -- specifically, the idea of having two senior deputies with a lot of real powers behind them. Some critics feel that this will maintain the status quo and negate the benefit of bringing together the NRO and Air Force Space Operations under you -- the intent of the Space Commission recommendation. Could you respond to that a little bit?

Teets: Yes, I would be happy to respond to that. There are really two parts to my response.

The first part would be that I'm concerned that as we move forward in this transformation, we have a large constellation of vitally important national security assets in space right now. So day-to-day operations are not just ho-hum. Day-to-day operations need to be attended to. They need to be watched over carefully. We need to have rapid decision-making capability for answering on-orbit kinds of problems and difficulties. And frankly, I'm doing this in an effort to allocate time better. I find I'm pretty busy these days, and I would like to have time to reflect on the overall issue of national security space -- blending cultures -- how do we invest R&D dollars to achieve a vision of universal situational awareness, all those kinds of questions.

And so Dennis Fitzgerald, deputy director at the NRO, is fully capable of handling all of those day-to-day kinds of issues that arise. And at the same time, I think it important for us to have a similar role being played for military space, because certainly there are pressing operational issues associated with military space operations that need immediate attention.

And so that's the primary driver for it. But I want to also say that I think Dennis, and also the person who will become the new deputy for Military Space, I think of them as partners on a management team, so to speak. And I would like them to help me oversee this Directorate of National Security Space Integration. I'd like to have them feel part of this national security space team immediately, and as we look at how do we integrate black-and-white world best practices, have them involved in that process as well.

So it's really -- my answer back to a critic of what we're announcing today would simply be: attention to ongoing operations, part of an integrated team to help blend cultures. And I think it's a good construct for doing that.

Q: You're going to be dealing with the bigger picture issue, while these guys do more day to day?

Teets: That would be the fundamental answer, yes.

Q: Okay.

Teets: Please.

Q: In that vein, if Mr. Fitzgerald is going to be responsible for sort of handling day-to-day operations, is it fair to say that perhaps this deputy for Military Space will also handle day-to-day operations under Air Force Space Command, because if he's over, you know, a three-star general -- three, two-star generals, he's going to have to have some serious weight.

Teets: Well, you've put your finger on one of the fundamental current differences in the way National Security Space operates. The NRO operates its own constellation of assets. In Military Space, US CINCSPACE, actually, has overall responsibility for all U.S. military space assets, but Air Force Space Command plays a role in the actual operations. And that's a uniformed Military Space [position].

What the deputy for Military Space in this context will be doing is, frankly, fighting acquisition fires. You know, it turns out that in the acquisition world, General Arnold has a lot of important programs. There are other important acquisition programs in other places as well, and they have immediate needs for response to time- critical decisions.

And again, one of the fundamental drives that I have is to reduce cycle time in decision-making. We're trying to flatten this organization. We're trying to have short lines of authority and be able to move rapidly to adjust to the changing conditions that are out there.

Please?

Q: I have a couple of systems questions.

One, can you give us a snapshot of the FIA [Future Imagery Architecture] program? There have been some stories out -- not quoting anybody -- and implying Boeing's in trouble with cost and schedule. Could you either confirm that or debunk it and give us a snapshot of where the system is at this point in terms of meeting its milestones?

Teets: Tony, I don't feel comfortable at the moment talking about FIA in any level of detail. I would tell you that the FIA program is currently on course and that we're going to be attending to it with a great deal of focus.

Q: Can you strip that with -- what "on course" means, cost and schedule performance-wise?

Teets: I would tell you that in today's assessment, Boeing is fundamentally on schedule and on cost. I would say -- because I'm not trying to be vague, I just don't want to get into a classified kind of a discussion, obviously, but I'd just say that I fundamentally have some concerns in the forward-looking plan that I intend to address and hopefully avoid downstream problem.

Q: Speaking of downstream problems that are current today, two satellite programs with real issues, the Advanced EHF [extremely high frequency] and SBIRS-High [space-based infrared system-High]. How did they get into those well-publicized cost and schedule problems that are going to cost you billions more over the FYDP [Future Years Defense Plan]?

Teets: Well, I'll just say that with respect to the SBIRS- High program, we have -- actually, Secretary Roche and Chief of Staff John Jumper formed an independent review team. It was headed up by Ken Israel (retired Air Force Maj. Gen. Kenneth R. Israel) and Dave Kier, actually, and they had a group of capable, knowledgeable, good people who went out, visited Lockheed Martin in Sunnyvale, they talked to the Space and Missile Center System Program Office director, and they came back and briefed us on the results of their findings.

And fundamentally, I'll say that my bottom line would be that there was plenty of blame to spread around with respect to poor program management and direction over the course of the last, say, year or two. When I say blame to spread around, I mean that the government had some issues associated with allocation of requirements. Not the top-level requirements.

I was interested and in some ways glad to see that at the top level the requirements for SBIRS have been stable since 1996. But the drive requirements weren't properly allocated. And that would be the fault of both contractor and government. And it's generated a very significant problem. We are currently very actively engaged in, really, a parallel path that will culminate about the end of April. We're asking the SBIRS high program's SPO [System Program Office] director to take a hard look at restructuring the SBIRS program. And I can assure you that this problem has the attention of Lockheed Martin and its highest management. And we'll see what that looks like over the course of the next couple months.

In parallel, we're going to be asking the NRO to lead some options looks at how could these requirements -- these are vital requirements. These are requirements that can't really be traded away. And so, we'll be asking the NRO to look for creative options that, if we're not pleased, if we're not satisfied with corrective actions and the restructured SBIRS high program, we'll have options to go another direction.

Please.

Q: I have two questions, both of them fairly simple. Is your deputy for military space a three-star or a four-star billet? And also, can you give an overview, please, of your '03 -- at least your unclassified '03 budget request, and a quick sketch of some of the things you're looking at?

Teets: Okay. First questions first.

Deputy for military space I anticipate to be a civilian. And I think this'll be a person that'll be a highly capable, highly qualified individual with a lot of experience in military space.

With respect to the FY03 budget, I think it's fair to say that the president's overall budget has been submitted to the Congress. We do anticipate some, in that budget, additional funding in '03. And we're planning, frankly, some additional funding in the out years as well. And I think it will enable --

You know, I'm not real comfortable with going through an overall numbers-kind of discussion at this point. I would say that it -- I believe that there will be significant -- additional resources applied that will allow us to do some additional research and development and execute a national security space plan that can meet the goals of the nation.

I'll tell you what. It's about 1:30, and I'm going to just take one more question, and then I'm going to have to run.

Q: Sir, you talked about a lot of good space assets here. I wondered what you think about the value of pursuing anti-satellite capabilities, like perhaps the Army's KE-ASAT [Kinetic Energy Anti-Satellite] program or tests down the road, such as lasing satellites or looking at the use of directed energy in space.

Teets: Well, I think one of the real important things that we need to look at now is how we are going to protect and defend our space assets. It is clear that these assets are vital to our national security, and it's important for us to know at what point in the future will those assets be threatened in some way, and how do we see those threats developing and evolving, and then put together a plan that will allow us to protect those assets. I'd say we're very -- the planning for that is in its very formative stages, and so I can't give you a lot of detail or a lot of specifics on the matter, but I can tell you that I'd be happy to talk to you in another six or eight months and hopefully have a more definitive plan to discuss with you.

And I do think that would best be the last question, and I thank y'all for being here. It's a pleasure to have an opportunity to chat with you.

Q: Thank you.

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