Integrating Space into Joint Warfighting: Continuing the March
Dr. James G. Roche, secretary of the Air Force
Remarks at the National Reconnaissance Office Space Warfighter Conference dinner, Chantilly, Va., July 14, 2003
Thanks Pete (Hon. Peter Teets, Undersecretary of the Air Force). I'm pleased to have the opportunity to participate in this event, and I'm honored to address this august group of leaders on a topic that is near and dear to my heart -- integrating air and space capabilities into joint warfighting. Actually, closer to my heart these days is integrating air, space and ground in joint warfighting. And unless all of you get to work on the campaign to oppose my nomination as Secretary of the Army, it may soon be of even more interest to me than it is today. Seriously, for our agency and joint colleagues in the audience tonight, the Air Force leaders here will tell you that I am 100 percent supportive of the President's nomination because, like so many of them, I serve where I can best help our armed forces. But, as General Jumper enjoys pointing out, this "old salt" has really enjoyed his time as an "aging airman."
As many of you are aware, we've been engaged in a wide-ranging effort to adapt the Air Force -- and the Department of Defense -- to the era in which we find ourselves -- to meet the threats we face now, and to be prepared to defeat those that will emerge over the next several decades. And, sometimes our past illuminates our way forward, for example, with close air support -- more on that later. As airmen, we have been evolving our organizations, concepts of operations, and technology for several decades now -- all with the objective of improving our ability to generate overwhelming and strategically compelling effects from air and space. It is our heritage to adapt -- to develop skilled airmen, to move technology to warfighting, and to integrate our capabilities and organizations to produce effects on the battlefield that our combatant commanders need. Our recent achievements in Iraq, Afghanistan and in defending the homeland for nearly two years now, have validated this heritage -- and your relentless efforts. And for that, each of you should be very proud.
Tonight, I'll be brief in my comments, first, because that wonderful meal should be enjoyed over coffee and light conversation. But more important, if I say too much, we run the risk of Dave MacGhee (commander, Air Force Doctrine Center) attempting to write counter-arguments into Air Force doctrine and coming to CORONA this fall with yet more slides to fit into his allotted time.
There are several points that bear mentioning as we work to build the links between Air Force warfighters and our National Security Space leaders. I particularly like the objectives you've established for this conference: strengthening relationships, understanding capabilities, discussing how we integrate Air and Space, and, most important, identifying issues that we need to address as a corporate Air Force. The result of your work this week will be important pieces of the puzzle we are putting together as we move forward from OIF. But, please never lose sight of why this integration is so important -- our combatant commanders are depending on us.
The task of dissecting the lessons learned from Operation Iraqi Freedom has become a growth industry of late. As the variety of think tanks, interest groups, and defense subcultures race to define the lessons of this recent conflict, we need to avoid defining those lessons through the prism of our special interests. We need to draw conclusions that contribute to America's overriding national objectives versus those that may be more appropriately interpreted as post-conflict posturing by one service or agency.
Many of us agree on the major lessons from this most recent conflict and why we were so successful.
First, this was the first war that executed a campaign as designed by the Goldwater-Nichols Act of 1986: a truly joint warfighting effort from planning to execution. That's not a trivial point. Air, ground, maritime, and space forces working together -- at the same time for the same objective -- and, not just because they occupy the same battlespace -- exactly the objective Secretary Rumsfeld is pursuing. Think about that for a moment: Combat Air Forces -- Air Force/Navy/Marines, Army Tactical Missile System and Patriot units, coalition air forces, and space in a combined Air Tasking Order. Wow!
Next, it is quite clear to all concerned that ground forces were able to bypass major enemy formations for two reasons: First, our precision systems and weapons were and are very lethal -- and plentiful. And, as (Vice Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff) General Peter Pace noted, because of the "trust our ground forces had in precise and timely airpower." We're proud that our warrior brethren would share this sentiment.
Generals Jumper and Foglesong worked very closely with our ground counterparts after Operation Anaconda to make sure we didn't repeat the mistakes that were made there. We refer to it as a "wake-up call." Both Army and Air Force learned from this sad episode -- and changed. For example, in Iraq, we had unprecedented coordination with the land component commander, with Major General Dan Leaf (Director of Operational Capability Requirements) working "up close and personal" with the Combined Forces Land Component Commander to ensure air and space forces were fully integrated with our Army and Marine counterparts, as well as British troops.
In fact, as I've often noted, the air-ground coordination was a return to the historic cooperation demonstrated by Generals Patton and Arnold (implemented by Bradley and Quesada) in their famous breakout of Normandy, and Patton's race across France in 1944 - - a goal General Jumper and I have shared and pursued for the last two years, to return to the relationships and dramatic capabilities of that era. Interestingly, space systems and capabilities created the opportunity for this to happen -- and John and I could see it coming with the systems we employ today: JDAMs (joint direct attack munitions), GPS (global positioning system), satellite comms, reach-back and wide-area ISR (intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance).
Third, and potentially most instructive to those of us charged with the organize, train, and equip function, this conflict was a coming-out party for Special Operations Forces. In Iraq and Afghanistan, they controlled large areas with limited forces; timely, accurate and relevant ISR; and the strength of rapid, precise airpower. They were a light, yet lethal mobile force and were truly joint in how they operated. And, space systems created the opportunity for this to happen as well.
Two weeks ago, I had the privilege to join General Paul Hester (Commander, Air Force Special Operations Command) in presenting 31 decorations to our Air Commandos at Hurlburt Field. One of the points I shared with them, that I'd ask you to think about as you work to integrate air and space, is the method we used to bring special operations capabilities to bear in the campaign. You'll note we didn't set up a Joint Special Operations Task Force that went out and did things on its own with limited integration into the Joint Force Commander's scheme of maneuver. Rather, in Iraq, special operators were integrated into the theater commanders campaign plan as an independent maneuver element. Strategic, operational and tactical objectives were linked to their operations -- and they performed brilliantly. I only wish we could tell more of their story. In time, we will. In the tradition of Colonel Daniel Morgan's rifleman and their innovation at Saratoga, a turning point in our War of Independence, someday the rest of the world will become aware of yet another revolution in the conduct of military affairs, one that is befitting of the heritage of Special Operators throughout our nation's history.
From an Air Force perspective, we have many reasons to be pleased. We achieved air superiority throughout the theater of operations, enabling our joint forces to conduct maritime, maneuver, and humanitarian operations without fear of attack from the air.
We demonstrated the incredible effects that advanced technology could have on the battlefield. Weapons conceived in the 1970s and 1980s, and fielded in the 1990s, now are having a revolutionary effect on combat.
And we've learned that with the right training, technology, organizations, and concepts of operation, we can command and control warfare better than ever before, and we can produce decisive effects faster, farther, and with greater precision than at any time in the history of armed conflict.
Much of this superb performance is a result of how well we've done in integrating air and space operations into (former U.S. Central Command Commander) General Frank's campaign plan. In Iraq, we did a great job of integrating space professionals at the strategic, operational, and tactical levels.
- For the first time, we designated a Space Coordinating Authority in the CAOC, bringing a senior space advisor and his reachback support network to the CFACC's leadership team.
- Space capabilities are increasingly becoming part of the planning process. The "airmen" in our strategy and targeting cells -- and that's "airman" with a little "a" (in other words: Combat Air Forces airmen) -- understand the need to take into account space support when they consider various courses of action, such as satellite support for BDA, or the wonderful tweaking of GPS satellites by the young U.S. Air Force captain and her watch team in Colorado Springs.
You should be very proud of the generation of air and space professionals we've grown over the last decade. From the Space Support Teams of the early 1990s to the Weapons School "space" grads, we are growing a new cadre of airmen who understand -- and more important -- have learned to exploit our nation's advantage in space
- Continuing; Army space support team members were embedded with the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force and provided expertise in GPS operations, counter GPS-jamming techniques, and digital terrain data exploitation.
- And, among many other examples of space integration with the joint warfighters, the Navy launched hundreds of Tomahawks, all of which are extraordinarily dependent on space to accomplish their missions.
But, despite these successes, there are many areas where we need to improve.
While the designation of a Space Coordinating Authority was a success, we need to accurately analyze the lessons we learned from this effort and then codify those roles and responsibilities into our doctrine. As you heard earlier today, Brigadier General-select Larry James has a wonderful perspective he gained from his experience in this role -- we need to capture his thoughts and make them part of our way ahead. Plus, we need to define what "authority" this officer has and how he/she fits into the CAOC organization.
We also need to make sure we have the right staffing in the CAOC to support space missions, such as space control. We didn't have a Space Common Operating Picture; it existed only on PowerPoint slides. While we gained much operationally from commercial SATCOM capabilities, some operations were constrained by lack of dedicated satellite communications.
Doctrinally, we need to continue to evolve how we think about Space control. During the campaign, we would not have tolerated overflight of Baghdad by an Iranian or Russian reconnaissance aircraft, but what to do when other nations' overfly some future conflict with satellites performing the same mission?
Of great concern to me was our inability to detect short-burning theater ballistic missiles; none of the 19 launches in theater were detected from space; more important, our air and ground radars failed to detect the six cruise missiles launched against Kuwait. I've spoken and written of the emerging cruise missile threat for two decades. Do you really believe that the U.S. can continue to pop hundreds of cruise missiles before some smart enemy gets the same idea? Iraqis killed 17 U.S. sailors on May 16, 1987, with air launched, anti-ship, cruise missiles. Sixteen years later, Iraqis shot six Seersucker missiles (modified Chinese Silkworms) into Kuwait. And potential enemies know that we did nothing to defend against them.
Also, as John Jumper has pointed out many times, we need to ensure our space systems are talking to each other so we can produce information at the machine-to-machine level that results in a cursor over the target. Currently, we have too many obstacles and security cultures in the way of achieving this vision.
There are many more lessons and improvements we can make in our integration of air and space capabilities with our joint counterparts. But that is why you are here this week -- to make progress in achieving these goals.
So, we can feel good about ourselves. But, we can't be complacent. There are troopers, standing, riding or walking into harm's way as I speak. With all our brains, with all our technology, what are we doing this week to ensure that each trooper finishes his or her patrol or duty safely? Why is that patrol alone? Where are we? Why are we not taking this phase of war as seriously as our troopers? Where is the Predictive Battlespace Analysis for that patrol? Where are eyes around the corner? Where are the eyes watching our troopers' six? Why aren't we figuratively "by those troopers' side"? John and I created Project "Eyes" in our Air Force under General Ron Keys (Deputy Chief of Staff for Air and Space Operations). It's very embryonic; and, there are no silver bullets. We are determined, however, that our troopers will not long walk alone. I challenge you to help.
I offer my sincere congratulations to each of you. Your leadership, service and sacrifice in this most recent conflict -- and throughout your careers -- culminated in the great results we've achieved in Afghanistan, Iraq and in our continuing global war on terrorism. I offer my thanks and best wished for continued success. And I challenge you. I challenge you: there are troopers walking in harm's way tonight. Do not forget them.
Thank you very much.