Space Architecture and Integration -- Challenges for the Future
Gen. John P. Jumper, Air Force chief of staff
Speech to the 19th National Space Symposium, Colorado Springs, Colo., April 10, 2003
Our thoughts today are with all those tens of thousands soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines we watch with baited breath, minute to minute, right now on live TV, hour after hour. It's amazing how addictive it is. It gives us all a sense, even if you've never had anything to do with people in uniform before, of how magnificent this military is that we are a part of, and I couldn't be more proud to be a part of them.
We haven't seen much about airmen, however, because the embedded reporters out there aren't allowed to be in many of the places where airmen are; and if they are, they aren't allowed to report it as generously as they are about other things that are going on. That's okay.
We started our work in the air component back in June of last year, and between June and March we actually flew about 4,000 sorties against the integrated air defense system in Iraq and against surface-to-air missiles and their command and control. By the time we got to March, we think that they were pretty much out of business. It's been a remarkable thing from the very first minutes of the war to see how the Iraqi air force threw their hands up and said "I give up." That's a good thing. They didn't want to get their butt kicked like they did last time. It's also because we managed to take out quite a bit of their capability before the main fight even started.
Today we have about 40,000 airmen among 300,000 or so total that are deployed throughout the AOR. The Air Force has been in 36 locations around the area since the beginning of this. We've flown some 14,000 sorties on top of the 85,000 or so we've flown over Afghanistan. We've seen not only the combat portion of this but we've also seen the airlifters, and we've seen the tanker force. We have more than 200 tankers deployed. If there's a piece of ramp anywhere, there's a tanker sitting on it that enables this global power that we see daily.
And we look at the changes over the years. Think about it. When we were sitting where we were about 10 or 12 years ago, and you read the press reports about where we were going to be at the turn of the century, most of the consensus was by the turn of the century the United States would be a second rate economic power. The news was not very encouraging. And who had ever heard of a place like Kosovo? And who ever thought we'd be in a war in Iraq? And who could name one or even two of the "'stans?" We've now been to all those places. We can achieve victory in situations that nobody could have predicted.
Consider what's gone on just in the last couple of years since we've seen the kid on the horse, Staff Sergeant Lienhard, on the ground on a horse with a laptop computer bouncing off the saddle horn, and a tripod laser scope mounted on the butt of the horse. You stop and set that stuff up and you're getting the precise coordinates of targets and shooting them up with B-52s at 39,000 feet in the sky, and the B-52s deliver a Global Positioning System-guided bomb within about 800 meters of Sergeant Lienhard's position. What do you call that? You call it close air support.
Curtis E. LeMay is rolling over in his grave at the thought of a B-52 from 39,000 feet doing close air support. We bought those airplanes to go halfway around the world to the old Soviet Union and drop nuclear weapons. Those kids in those B-52s are used to taking off and not talking to anybody. Now they're gabbing up there with Sergeant Lienhard. What's that all about?
But the kids find out what they need to do and they put it together. The first night of the war saw the employment of cruise missiles and two F-117s. These kids flying those planes were waking up from a dead sleep. They were given their targets, and they took off into Iraq. It was an incredibly short amount of time from the time of wakeup from a dead sleep until the bomb impacted the target. And give a lot of credit to the Navy here too, because they were able to do the reprogramming of these cruise missiles in ways that during Desert Storm we couldn't even have thought about doing in the amount of time they did it.
And the other day a B-1 bomber sits out there in an orbit. And it's in an orbit because we put it there to deal with the emerging target problem. There's a B-1 that sits out there in an orbit for three or four hours. It waits to see what is happening. They get a call, saying "This is what we need you to go do." It's got three bomb bays worth of stuff and it's got something different in each bomb bay. You program it in there. Ten minutes from the time they get the word they've got bombs on the target.
We couldn't even have thought about that just a few years ago. In Desert Storm we had to load the Air Tasking Order on a Navy cargo plane every day and fly it down to the aircraft carrier because we had no means to electronically transmit it from the shore to the ships at sea. This was a pitiful testimony, back then, to jointness.
Now how do we do it? Who makes it possible? It's you who sit before me here today. Without space, we don't get the coordinates to the B-1, we don't get the space shot due to the GPS, we don't get those going to the B-52, and we don't locate the downed crewmembers. We don't do any of it without coming from or going through space.
A note of irony, let me point out to you we did find the GPS jammers around Baghdad and, just to show off a little bit, we bombed them with GPS bombs. I think whoever built them has a redesign right now. Again, it's testimony to the industry that makes these things happen.
Today in the Combined Air Operations Center you have warriors standing around the table selecting targets, and some of those warriors are space warriors. They're face to face with the kinetic warriors, and they're doing whatever it takes to make sure that we figure out how to get bombs on targets. And more and more these space warriors are taking a bigger role in our minute to minute activities. None of this happens without the space warriors we have in all of our services.
You talk to the guys in the Navy and their ships at sea and you don't have enough fiber optic cable dragging behind the ship. No, you've got to come through space. You talk to the Army guys, with all the situation awareness, all the intelligence and the planning stuff they need to do their job on the battlefield, and where does it come through? It comes through connectivity from space. We want the Army and the Air Force space teams to team up to get those pictures of the burning oil fields so we could get those out to the public as quickly as we could. All of these things are becoming routine.
For the Air Force, go into the Combined Air Operations Center, and see the integration that's going on so we can do things like redirect that B-1 where it needs to be in near real time. It gets better every single day. I look at it and I still shake my head because I'm not happy with it yet. We're 10 percent of where we've got to be. It's going to get better when we understand the two buzzwords of this decade. One of them is "integration" and the other one is "persistence."
We've got to work this integration at the machine-to-machine level. The problem we have is that we all tend to be heavy equipment operators. We're tied to our platforms. It tends to be all types of airplanes, all types of bombers, all types of transporters, all types of satellites. And we've got to learn to think in terms of integration so that the sum of the systems all put together between air, land, sea and space, ends up with a cursor over the target.
I stand in front of audiences and, sometimes, I say, OK, at some point the NRO (National Reconnaissance Office) satellite needs to talk directly to digital weapons aboard other platforms in the air, on the land or at sea. And the very thought to some, not to all, but to some, of an NRO signal coming down and being dispensed to somebody other than an NRO tribal representative is unthinkable.
But when you think about it, it makes sense. Why do we go to the trouble of printing out the image? It's so that analog eyeballs can interpret it. But what if the digits were able to contact seamlessly the digits from the signals intelligence or the synthetic aperture radar or the imaging infrared? Imagine if that could happen. You could probably decide exactly what that target was in a matter of a few seconds instead of tribal representatives having to interpret the tribal hieroglyphics to the other tribe.
We're going to do this. This is going to happen. It takes a new way to think about it, and the way that we're pushing to think about this thing is this whole notion of the concept of operations. It's when we first start talking about how we're going to fight the war before we start talking about who we're going to fight. We're going to do this in a joint way. We're going to let this lead the way for our actions in the future.
Now, a lot of people get disturbed when I say that some of the wisdom of our manned, unmanned and space systems ends up in the cursor over the target. They think that I'm thinking about killing the target. Well, a lot of the time I am. But you can also put the cursor over the target that you want to save, and the humanitarian effort is the same set of platforms that come together to make sure you provide humanitarian relief. It's the same set of platforms that enables you to put the cursor over the target so you can learn more about that target. It's the same set of platforms that allows you to transition from what I call the Z minus 365, the ability to collect, analyze and report during normal day to day routine, and then, when you get closer to the engagement phase, to transition that same group of platforms into a combat mode. And they can shift seamlessly back and forth depending on the priority at the moment.
Why don't we do that now? We should be doing that now. That's where we need to go. That's my challenge to this group and that's my challenge to the requirements side and to the acquisition side of our United States Air Force as we try to forge our way ahead in this complex world we live in.
The other part is persistence. Here's where we need to team up. We need to team up just like we did in the integration phase. We need to team up the air and space so that we can put things on the battlefield that can stare for long periods of time and do it anywhere that we want to look.
Where we're getting experience with this is, in addition to satellites that can look and stare, is with unmanned aerial vehicles. We have UAVs in orbits for 24 hours, staring at targets for long periods of time. That's having a profound impact on the way we're able to get the close-up looks, the patterns and targets of enemy activity, and the rapid lash-ups of target execution. That's this notion of persistence.
And you trade off persistence in the air for persistence in space, taking advantage of the high fidelity that you can get from the air and maybe less fidelity from space, so that you can have persistence all the time, 24 hours a day. We've got to work those kinds of architectures so we always have something there. There's a way to do this. And they complement one another -- they don't compete with one another.
Finally, there's the increasing need for responsiveness. We're already pretty rapid at some things, but we're not rapid enough. I get a lot of questions back home. "Jumper, what's the next generation of bomber?" I refuse to talk about the next generation of bomber. What I do talk about is the next generation of long-range strike technology. Because I don't know what it's going to be yet. We'll be deciding that soon. My assumption is that it's either in or through space, and you can get it anywhere on the surface of the globe in hours or minutes, not days. And once it gets there it can do just about anything you want it to do. That's a pretty tall order. But what I'm not going to give into is solutions that are looking for problems. We will think this thing through and come up with the right combination of technology to get the job done that we need to get done. We'll be working on that in cooperation with Office of the Secretary of Defense here over the next few months as we get ready for the next POM (program objective memorandum) cycle.
All the technology, all the brilliance represented in this room, all of it comes down right now, at least for the time being, to winning wars on the ground. I represent people in uniform, and I stand up here as a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff representing people in all uniforms, not just the Air Force. But I talk about airmen because they're the ones that I know best. And it's always helpful, I think, to put a human face on our business.
I get to travel around and I get to meet these magnificent young soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines all over the world that are doing the nation's business in such a spectacular way. It's a fun thing to do, and all the senior people here in uniform can tell the same story no matter what service they're in. A fun thing to do if you're an Air Force general is to go down to Lackland Air Force Base, Texas on a Friday. On Fridays we graduate 1,000 new airmen into our Air Force, every Friday. It's a fun thing to do. You watch the parade. They march by and they're all newly minted airmen and they're all very proud of themselves.
The fun thing to do is to sit back and watch as the youngsters get back to their parents after their parents haven't seen them for several weeks. You'll see the same thing every single time. Something like an airman in his or her bright new uniform, standing in front of his or her mom saying, "Mom, it's me. It is me." The dad standing back saying, "That ain't the same kid I brought here. This kid's standing up straight. This kid's saying ma'am and sir. The kid I brought here looked like he fell down the steps with a tackle box in his hand with a pierced ear and pierced eye and a pierced lip."
And you talk to these youngsters. The stories you hear are magnificent. "You know, sir, this is the first time anybody's ever told me they were proud of me." Or. "This is the first time I've ever felt like I've accomplished something." These kids come from all walks of life. They were brought up on Beavis and Butthead and the Simpsons. They were taught to disrespect anything that smacked of institutional values. But you expose them to a little pride and respect and they're as patriotic and dedicated and committed as any generation that ever served.
It's not just a manifestation of recent times, either. I was a wing commander at Eglin Air Force Base (Fla.). I had a wing full of F-15s. We're sitting there in the middle of an ORI (operational readiness inspection) (actually, we just finished with phase one), sitting around in our chem gear. We'd generated 71 out of 72 airplanes in less than the required time, and we're sitting there patting ourselves on the back, saying "71 out of 72, that's pretty damn good." And someone comes out and says, "You know, I think we'll just call the whole thing off, we've got it made." Then the Chief of Maintenance comes in and says, "Sir, don't call this thing off. You've got to come out here and see what I'm seeing." We get in the car and drive out there. That 72nd F-15 was there, the crew chief was a young staff sergeant, and the airplane with the problem was his. When we got out there they had put a tow truck under this F-15, and there's about eight or 10 people pushing this F-15 over to the running stand because they had to run the engine up before they could find out the discrepancy. We jumped out of the car and started pushing too, and people were piling on, and I'm saying, Push it fast enough, I know it will fly! But that young staff sergeant was frantic. He was not going to be the only airplane in the whole wing that didn't generate. It wasn't going to happen. So people are piling on here, and we get this thing hooked up, and most people don't even know what's going on. And they hook this thing up and run the engine up and they get it signed off with the discrepancy with a few minutes left to go. By the time that happened there were 5,000 people there. The whole wing was out there. Then a cheer went up and it sounded like the Super Bowl. Your Air Force. These kids do this all the time.
The final story I want to tell is one about Senior Airman Jason Cunningham. Senior Airman Cunningham was one of three Air Force guys in an Army helicopter going into Roberts' Ridge in Afghanistan during Operation Anaconda. He was a pararescueman stationed at Moody AFB in Georgia. As they went in to land on Roberts' Ridge -- they're actually going in to find the Navy SEALs that were brought to the same place earlier -- the helicopter gets shot down and they crash. They're surrounded 360 degrees by bad guys. They're taking fire. Senior Airman Cunningham begins pulling out the wounded and tries to get them away from the helicopter. They're completely surrounded and the other Air Force kids onboard are combat controllers and they start calling in air strikes as quick as they can get them in there. But as time passes more and more get wounded and Senior Airman Cunningham gets a mortal wound himself.
I went to Kirtland AFB, N.M., and presented his wife the Air Force Cross Senior Airman Cunningham earned. The Army guys that were on that helicopter were all there. Big strapping Army Rangers and they all had tears running down their cheeks and they said, "You know, as Cunningham knew he was dying he told us what to do to take care of the rest of these guys so they wouldn't die too."
I, along with Secretary Roche, presented that Air Force Cross to Theresa Cunningham. Theresa's his wife. They've got two small children under three years of age. She's 23 years old. She's enrolled in Valdosta State College out there where Moody AFB is, she's in an ROTC unit, and she's coming into the Air Force this summer.
That's what we do this for. When we talk about this integration, this ability to be able to get things. If we had gotten to that place quicker we could have saved Senior Airman Cunningham. We will study this war we're in right now, and we will find things we could have done better and quicker and we will make ourselves better, because we're a lot better now than we were even in the Afghanistan War.
It's useful to remember that with all this technology and all the emphasis on architecture, what it really comes down to is that we're saving lives. That's the business we're in, and that's where the payoff is.
So again I want to thank you for the opportunity to be here. Let me thank you for all you do to bring the magnificent technology that is essential for our warfighters, and all the talent that you all bring to bear on this problem of integration and persistence. The future is in space. And we will migrate over the coming years the appropriate capabilities as soon as we can get there, with the appropriate cautions that we've got to be able to protect ourselves, and we've got to be sure that we don't give into vulnerabilities as we go along.
I thank each and every one of you. I thank the companies and the services you represent. I say may God bless each and every one of you and may God bless our United States of America.
Thank you all very much.