Pursuing New Ways of Exploiting Space
DoD Must Now Prepare for a
Conflict That Extends Into Space
Deputy Secretary of Defense Speech,
Satellite Industries Association, As prepared for delivery by Deputy
Secretary of Defense Bob Work, Washington, D.C., March 7, 2016. (DoD
Thank you for that kind introduction.
I’d like to thank the Satellite Industries Association for the opportunity to
talk at this forum.
I wanted to take a few minutes this evening to discuss what the Department is
doing in the area of space mission assurance, as well as some of the new areas
we’re looking at as we drive forward into the future.
But let me start my comments by going back to the early Cold War years when it
was all about nuclear weapons and missiles, and space was largely an
afterthought. The Eisenhower Administration wanted better and more reliable
missiles and smaller nuclear warheads without losing explosive yield. That’s
where the scientific energy was focused.
All that changed in October 1957 with the “beeps and squeaks”
heard round the world when the Soviets launched Sputnik, and then Sputnik II a
month later. President Eisenhower’s popularity plummeted. Time magazine chose
Nikita Khrushchev as their man of the year – putting his smiling mug on the
cover along with a picture of Sputnik. And the space race was on.
Although it would take another three months for the United
States to successfully launch a satellite into space, satellite development and
launches kicked into high gear. NASA was created in early 1958. And the CIA
began its Corona spy satellite program, launching the first one into space in
august 1960 – the first use of a satellite for strategic reconnaissance.
In the 1960s, while NASA concentrated on manned space flight,
DoD began developing its early satellite constellations driven by the imperative
to prevent strategic surprise and ensure nuclear deterrence. this led to the
establishment of the national reconnaissance program for strategic intelligence,
ISR satellites for nuclear war planning and targeting, weather satellites to
support reconnaissance, navigation satellites (transit) for Polaris SSBNs,
launch detection/early warning satellites, nuclear detonation detection payloads,
communications satellites for nuclear command and control and EAM dissemination.
Although the focus of the national security space
constellation remained on nuclear warfighting, things began to change in the
1970s. Through the tactical exploitation of national capabilities program, or
TENCAP, we began to give our conventional warfighters a glimpse at the
eye-watering capabilities our strategic space constellation provided.
At the same time, DoD more fully exploited space-based
communications. And just as importantly—if not more so—it began developing the
global positioning system, or GPS, to provide Joint forces precise timing,
positioning and navigation information.
Thus, in 1990, when Saddam Hussein ordered the Iraqi army to
invade Kuwait and the U.S. led a coalition to eject them, we had in place the
space-based building blocks needed to form the first true theater level battle
Now a battle network is simply a combination of three
interconnected grids: a sensor grid that senses the environment—including both
red and blue forces and weather; a command, control, communications, and
intelligence grid that aims to develop a common operational picture, determine
the actions necessary to achieve desired battlefield effects; and some kind of
effector or weapons grid to translate decisions into action and effects on the
Space-based capabilities dramatically improved the entire US
joint battle network. Space-based ISR and weather capabilities allowed U.S.to
peer into and throughout the battlespace with impunity, gaining full
understanding of the Iraqi order of battle and its disposition, and how weather
might impact operations. The GPS constellation allowed all three grids and the
entire battle network to be synched in time and space, and enabled precise
navigation across trackless desert sands. All of this allowed new organizations
such as the CAOC to plan precise attacks, and space-based comms allowed U.S.to
command and control forces in real time through the theater. And Desert Storm
saw the very first GPS-guided munitions employed in combat, auguring in the
capability to strike targets precisely day or night, even in bad weather.
These capabilities helped U.S. and allied forces to overwhelm
the Iraqi forces, and in the process demonstrate what we referred to as the
second Offset strategy.
Now an Offset strategy simply leverages our high quality
people, technological superiority, and innovative operational and organizational
constructs to compensate for an adversary’s advantages in time, space, and
forces. And the space-based capabilities developed during the 2nd Offset
strategy allowed U.S.to project more power, more precisely, more swiftly, at
less cost, with less force structure, and with far fewer casualties than would
otherwise be possible.
That’s why 1991’s Desert Storm is often called the first
space war, because of the enormous advantages provided by our national security
space constellations. After the war, we continued to refine and exploit these
capabilities, primarily by aggressively pursuing GPS-guided munitions, which
allowed 24-hour a day guided munitions bombardment regardless of weather. We
refined and demonstrated these capabilities in Yugoslavia and Kosovo, and
Afghanistan and Iraq.
Indeed, today, global imaging, communications, navigation,
and precision has become so deeply enmeshed in our Joint operations that it is
truly central to our concepts of deterrence, assurance, and warfighting.
Unfortunately, along the way, we started to grow comfortable
in the belief that space is a virtual sanctuary. But as this audience knows,
that is no longer the case.
Both Russia and China have studied our way of warfighting,
searching for gaps to exploit. Both have focused on our space systems as a
potentially vulnerable center of gravity – and they are aggressively pursuing
counter-space capabilities. That means, as Secretary Carter said last week in
California, DoD must now prepare for a conflict that extends into space. And in
our budget, we're continuing to invest more in space, totaling more than $22
billion just this year alone.
Russia and China’s pursuit of counter-space weapons, and
other anti-access, area-denial capabilities, is leading to an erosion in the
margin of conventional superiority we have enjoyed since the end of the Cold War.
That’s why we’re pursuing a 3rd Offset strategy – to ensure our conventional
deterrence remains as strong in the future as it is today.
The 3rd Offset strategy is based on the premise that advances
in artificial intelligence and autonomy will allow the Joint force to develop
and operate advanced Joint, collaborative human-machine battle networks that
synchronize simultaneous operations in space, air, sea, undersea, ground, and
We believe that breakthroughs in artificial intelligence will
allow new levels of autonomy – the delegation of decision-making authority –
within Joint battle networks, leading to entirely new levels of human-machine
collaboration and combat teaming. That’s the technological special sauce of the
3rd Offset strategy.
And space will be as central to the battle networks we
develop in the 3rd Offset strategy as it was to those we built in the 2nd. The
key difference now is our adversaries will be targeting those battle networks
with a range of weapons – cyber, kinetic, directed energy, and others. So we
need to think about how we’re going to “fight the constellation.”
Now, clearly it’s in nobody’s interest to have a space war.
It would disrupt the entire world’s reliance on space services – affecting the
world’s financial centers, transportation, utilities, telecommunications, and
much more. So we’re back to thinking about how to deter adversaries from
thinking that our space systems are vulnerable. The way to do it is deterrence
by denial. Deterrence in space is not about imposing costs the way nuclear
deterrence was in the cold war. Simply saying that if you shoot my satellite
I’ll shoot yours is not credible. If we start blasting each other’s satellites,
the whole world loses, because the resulting massive debris fields would pollute
orbits and make them unusable.
When it comes down to it, deterrence in space is
fundamentally about denial of benefits. That in turn depends on convincing
adversaries that we have strong space mission assurance. And it must be strong
enough to inject deep doubts in an adversary’s mind about the prospects for a
What’s more, we need to build a system that is postured for
victory if deterrence fails. Because a force meant to deter conflict can only
succeed in deterrence if it can show that it will dominate a conflict.
So how do we do that? The first and most important step is
making our architectures and our operations more resilient: hard to find, hard
to catch, hard to hit, hard to kill. We’re going to do that with a dynamic,
layered, defense-in-depth that encompasses the full range of passive measures
required for denial, such as different orbits, mobility, deception, distributed
architectures, as well as active measures, such as threat suppression and damage
The key fundamentals in this regard are:
· Eliminate mission critical, single-node vulnerabilities;
· Create uncertainty, complicate risk calculus, and increase targeting
· Adopt passive and active measures to evade, withstand, and operate through
· Distribute value and orchestrating across hosts, orbits, spectrum, and
· Electively leverage inter-sector and international cooperation; and
· Demonstrate the resolve and capabilities to deter and defeat attack.
We’re also making organizational changes with an experimental
platform for battle management and command and control of our space assets – the
Joint interagency combined space operations center, or JICSpOC. In December, I
observed a TTX where I saw the value of having our commercial partners there
participating, helping U.S. better understand the challenges we all face in an
increasingly crowded, and contested, domain. We’ll take what we’re learning and
continue to refine JICSpOC and more fully integrate DoD space operations with
those of the intelligence community.
In the meantime, however, let me say a few words about the
things we already know. Throughout most of the space era, we’ve rarely faced
threats beyond the natural environment, jamming, or a nuclear detonation in
space. We designed our systems to handle those threats. But just because we
didn’t optimize for the threats emerging today doesn’t mean the task is
insurmountable, or even cost prohibitive.
And it does not mean we have to trade off capability in order
to gain resilience. It simply means we need to put our innovative minds to the
And that brings us to two great American and allied
advantages, both of which are represented by those of you gathered here tonight:
○ The first advantage is our international partnerships and
○ The second is our tremendously innovative commercial sector
and its global partnerships.
Let me say a few things about both. Whenever and wherever the
United States military operates today, we do so in coalitions. Our allies bring
important opportunities to add redundancy and resiliency. By leveraging their
platforms, we can proliferate and distribute the capabilities we have on orbit.
And by inviting them into our space operations centers, we will provide greater
interoperability as a coalition, and jointly work to protect our combined space
At the same time, we also want our commercial partners in the
mix because of the tremendous innovative capacity of the commercial sector –
including the firms represented here tonight, both those based in the U.S. and
those based in the nations of our trusted allies.
That innovation is resident in both the traditional space
entities that are achieving ever faster data rates and better protection for
satellite communications as well as the new space entrants
pursuing new ways of exploiting space to deliver both traditional and new
kinds of services.
As I noted earlier, well up until the 90s, it was government
investment driving space innovation. It used to be the space industry benefited
from a trickle-down effect of technology transfer where everything from tang the
orange drink to Teflon coating flowed from government to the commercial sector.
Today, it’s working the other way. Consumer demand for ever
smaller devices with greater computing power and more functionality is leading
to advances in space that we are now adapting to address government needs. We’re
seeing this innovation in new concepts for commercial launch, for proliferated
constellations for a truly worldwide internet on orbit, for more persistent
space-based imaging, for space situational awareness, for on-orbit servicing,
for hosted payloads, and much more.
For example, in the next five years, it looks like more than
a dozen GEOINT constellations – with more than 500 smallsats – will launch, and
begin to continuously image the earth. I was just out in Silicon Valley where I
had the chance to visit Planet Labs. They’re going to put up 150 smallsats,
referred to as “Doves”, in a sun-synchronous polar orbit. And every day, day in
and out, during daylight, each Dove will take two pictures per second, staring
straight down, transforming the entire flock of Doves into one giant earth line
Can you imagine it? We need to figure out how to harness the
incredible power of such constellations. This is a big part of the 3rd Offset
strategy: leveraging decision science, big data, machine learning, and
artificial intelligence to accelerate the speed of information. We’re going to
exploit autonomy and predictive analytics to act inside the enemy’s operations
cycle. We’ll accelerate the processing of imagery using deep learning and
automated object detection techniques that can scale to any problem.
We’re looking to all of you to help U.S. out. The question is not: will American
and allied industry innovate. We know you will always innovate. The real
question is: will government stay ahead of the curve and capitalize on
industry’s innovation and your international partnerships?
Three examples suggest we can capitalize when we put our minds to it.
o First, we are pursuing new opportunities through the
defense innovation unit experimental (DIU-X) and our pilot program with In-Q-Tel.
o Second, the national geospatial intelligence agency has issued a commercial
geointelligence strategy focused squarely on capitalizing on all the potential
commercial industry is offering.
o Third, in the DoD, as we look to our future satellite communications
requirements, we’re taking a good look at how to change our buying practices for
commercial SATCOM instead of just purchasing on the spot market. Using
pathfinder activities we are looking at how we meet requirements through
mechanisms such as purchasing transponders on orbit or purchasing a satellite as
part of a commercially operated constellation.
In conclusion, let me leave you with a concise sense of what
all this means for the future of government, allied, and commercial space
activities. The 3rd Offset is all about identifying and prioritizing new
technologies and capabilities, adopting them early, and incorporating them into
new operational and organizational constructs that utilize them to maximum
effectiveness in defeating the anti-access and area denial challenges of modern
potential adversaries. It’s essential that we apply these concepts with respect
to assuring the space-based capabilities on which so much of our military
depends, and improving the level of space-based support our Joint Force has come
to rely and depend upon.
So closer partnerships with industry and allies will be a big
part of our mission assurance and mission support efforts at DoD. Your futures
and our future in space are as intertwined and interdependent as our orbits.
That gives all of us and all of the people we support – whether they be the
customers you serve or the people our militaries defend – a vested interest in
ensuring that potential adversaries conclude there is no advantage to be gained
by attempting attacks in space and that they choose peaceful means to resolve
their political differences on earth.
In closing, let me thank you for the opportunity to speak here this evening, and
thank the entire commercial satellite industry for your many contributions to
our nation’s security.