Remarks by Acting Secretary Shanahan at the 35th Space Symposium, Colorado Springs, Colorado

Acting Secretary Of Defense Patrick M. Shanahan


ACTING SECRETARY OF DEFENSE PATRICK SHANAHAN:  Good morning.  I think this is the best job I've ever had.  The Department of Defense is the most amazing place I've ever worked.  And I've got some good remarks today.  I really want to spend some time on the Space Force.  So let me -- let me get started.  It's great to be here with all of you, the builders of the new economy.  
 
Before I begin, I want to express my deepest sympathies to the families of those we lost in Afghanistan yesterday.  Their sacrifices are a solemn reminder of the burden our service members bear every day in defense of our freedom.  And defending our freedom is why I'm here today.  
 
Today, Secretary Ross, Secretary Wilson, Administrator Bridenstine and I will share our thinking and lay out our unified whole-of-government plan to ensure U.S. leadership. 
 
For the Department of Defense, this means growing our margin of dominance in space, to protect our $19 trillion economy and ensure access for our warfighters. 
 
The leaders in this room know the changes and the threats we're seeing in space, better than anyone.  We must confront reality.  Weapons are currently deployed by our competitors, that can attack our assets in space.  
 
Both China and Russia have weaponized space with the intent to hold American space capabilities at risk.  China's communist government has exercised and continues to develop the capability to jam, targeting SATCOM, ISR and GPS.
 
The PLA is also deploying directed-energy weapons.  And we expect them to field a ground-based laser system aimed at low-earth orbit space sensors by next year. 
 
They're also prepared to use cyber-attacks against our space systems, and have deployed an operational ground-based ASAT missile system.  And China has moved rapidly at advanced weapon capabilities, particularly hypersonics, that we are not capable of tracking.  Russia is doing many of the exact same things.  
 
Meanwhile, in the United Nations, both of them are pushing international agreements that we know they won't abide by.  The threat is clear.  We're in an era of great power competition.  And the next major conflict may be won or lost in space. 
 
Because of their actions, space is no longer a sanctuary.  It is now a warfighting domain.  This is not a future or theoretical threat.  This is today's threat. 
 
We are not going to sit back and watch.  We are going to act.  We are going to deter conflict from extending into space, and ensure we can respond decisively if deterrence fails. 
 
Because the stakes are so high, we need to move with urgency.  Our presence in space underpins the department's ability to defend our nation, deter aggression and project power globally.  Space is fundamental to our modern way of war. 
 
And our $19 trillion economy increasingly relies on space, from the GPS you use to navigate, to the delivery drones and self-driving cars of the future, to the phone you will tweet quotes from my remarks today, space is fundamental to our modern way of life. 
 
Looking forward, space power will not just be as vital to strength -- it will be just as vital to strength and prosperity of our country as sea power was, centuries ago. 
 
And just as we developed the U.S. Navy to ensure freedom, free navigation of the seas, we need a military organization to ensure free navigation of the stars.  America's future depends on space.  We will develop the forces and capabilities to protect and defend our space interests. 
 
In addition to the threat, we also see thousands of satellites going into space in the next few years, as the cost of launch continues to come down and space technology rapidly advances.  This will unlock new opportunities and increase the importance of space for the American economy. 
 
Unfortunately, the department is not moving fast enough to stay ahead.  In the language of the private sector, the market has shifted and our old business model won't survive. 
 
We have a choice.  Change now, or maintain the status quo.  Facing this challenge, senior Pentagon leaders asked a fundamental question, what does a plan to win in space require?  This led to more questions such as should the department confront the contested space environment in a dozen different organizations, or as one enterprise?
 
Should we continue integrating space capabilities at the level of the Deputy Secretary or should there be a senior leader in the Pentagon who is accountable for space?  Should we man, train and equip for space in three separate services or consolidate based on one physical domain?
 
Should protecting and defending space continue to be the third priority of the STRATCOM Commander or should there be a combatant commander focused on space every day?  We realized that although we have the talent we need and the technology at our fingertips, the department does not currently have the organizational and leadership structure necessary to move fast, leverage new technology and defend our space interests.
 
Rather than watch the world evolve around us, we are seizing the strategic initiative.  We went back to the drawing board and came up with a new plan.  This plan will impose costs on our would-be adversaries and deny them any perceived benefits.
 
To paraphrase President Reagan, peace in space requires strength in space.  In order to do this, we will consolidate our space efforts into three parts, U.S. Space Force, U.S. Space Command and the Space Development Agency.
 
Part one, and the largest change, is establishing the United States Space Force, the future sixth branch of our Armed Forces.  Our military is structured around physical domains, Navy on sea, Army on land, Air Force on air.
 
Given the changes in the environment, we now need a military service dedicated to protecting and defending space, the Space Force.  Just like the other military services, the Space Force will be responsible for organizing, training and equipping the military force.
 
Two elements of this organized train and equip mission are worth elaborating on.  First, professional development.  This is recruiting, educating and promoting space personnel.  Today, space experts, go through professional military education system focused on either air, land, or sea power.  Space is an add-on, a supporting effort, not the focus.
 
The Space Force will build a professional development system that recruits technical talent, educates them in space from the beginning and provides a clear promotion path, all to produce the quantity and quality of space leaders we need to protect and defend space.
 
Second, organizing and equipping includes force design and force development.  This means understanding the domain, the technology and warfare deeply enough to design future capabilities and deliver them, ensuring space power not only today but in the future.
 
The Space Force will develop requirements, work with interagency partners, engage with Congress and drive the organizational focus we need to win in space as the domain evolves.  In short, the Space Force will be responsible for developing military units that can protect and defend America's space interests.
 
The initial numbers of the Space Force are small, 15[,000] to 20,000 people drawn from existing forces, and by creating the new service inside the Air Force, the additional cost is less than one-tenth of one percent of the DOD budget, or put another way, the Space Force will cost about $1.50 per American per year.
 
With help from Congress, we will create the Space Force and ensure the focus is on growing warfighter capability, not bureaucracy.  The Space Force is a low cost, low bureaucracy proposal that will ensure that America will have the ability to protect and defend our space interests for decades to come.
 
Part two is our new joint combatant command, the United States Space Command.  Currently, space operations are under the purview of U.S. Strategic Command.  
 
The Commander, a friend to many of you, General John Hyten, is one of our nation's leading thinkers on space, but as General Hyten himself says, space is never better than his third priority, he must focus on strategic deterrence and nuclear command and control.  
 
This construct worked well when space was primarily an uncontested supporting mission for others.  Today, we need a command and a commander that spends 100 percent of their time focused on space.  That is - that is why the President directed the establishment of the new unified U.S. Space Command and recently nominated General Jay Raymond, another friend of this audience, to take the helm.
 
I urge the Senate to take up his nomination.  We're ready to establish the new command shortly thereafter.  Part three is the Space Development Agency, what I call the pacing element of our plan, which will architect our future space ecosystem.
 
The SDA will focus on developing and delivering the next generation of space-based communications and earth observation, while existing organizations continue their efforts - their current efforts.  Let me use satellite communications as an example of the value SDA is going to bring.
 
First, consolidation of activity and integration at scale.  Currently, the U.S. military relies on a patchwork of Navy NUOS and Army WGS and Air Force AHF military satellite programs with heavy lifting done by spot market buys and commercial bandwidth from providers.  The result is we have deployed over 130 different types of wide band terminals, in addition to narrow band and protected SATCOM terminals.  
 
As we look to future architectures, we have a once in a generation opportunity to consolidate and provide the department a unified, multi-domain command and control system for the first time.
 
Second, SDA will lead a true national team systems engineering effort.  This is similar to the systems engineering required for the Aegis system, or Navy's strategic support program, which integrates missiles, nuclear weapons, shore infrastructure, communications in a submarine, all to produce a critical leg of our nuclear triad. 
 
The space systems engineering challenge is similar.  The launch vehicle, the satellite bus, the payload.  The standards and protocols, the mesh network, the ground stations, the terminals.  All of it. 
 
Third, SDA will harness the innovation and investment that's taking place in commercial space.  The revenue generated by the global space industry may increase to over $1.1 trillion by 2040.  DOD must leverage the private sector investment, chasing this opportunity. 
 
Our space R and D needs to include our own research and development as well as other forms of R and D.  I refer it to as "rip off and deploy."  The rip off and deploy is the commercial market innovations. 
 
Finally, SDA will judiciously combine commercial innovation with exquisite capabilities unique to DOD.  These will include sensors that can detect and track hypersonic threats, machine learning to make sense of the enormous data we will collect, A.I. to link sensors and shooters, and cyber-security designed in from the beginning. 
 
The result will be a space architecture that is resilient, responsive and ahead of the threat.  These breakthroughs will empower our forces with multi-domain command and control.  
 
We are moving with purpose and speed to get these plans in motion.  Dr. Fred Kennedy is already at the helm of the SDA.  He will drive the SDA to explore, prototype and demonstrate systems and architectures at a rapid pace that allows them to risk, try, fail, learn and succeed. 
 
We don't intend to go at it alone.  Our objectives are too far-reaching to be achieved by any one entity, even one as large as the Department of Defense.  We need to leverage the asymmetric advantages provided by American industry and our allies that no competitor can match.  Together, we're going to maximize and protect space.  
 
The end state is a national security space architecture that is proliferated, affordable, persistent and provisioned for A.I.  When we're done, it should look something like the cell phone network we have on Earth.  Different devices can connect and be upgraded, and subscribe to the network.  Allies and partners will work together to make this happen. 
 
This will go beyond technology development.  As with all warfighting domains, we will not fight alone.  We will have allies with us every step of the way, partnering with our Space Force and stationed at Space Command. 
 
The new space economy is American-led.  Men and women in this room and across the country are coming up with new ideas and putting amazing new things into orbit.  We want to be a part of that.  
 
Of course, the department is just one piece of the puzzle.  Congressmen Rogers and Cooper got us started on this path, and I want to thank them for their leadership.  
 
President Trump cast a bold vision.  Vice President Pence is driving change to achieve it through the National Space Council.  Secretary Ross, our NASA administrator have been pioneers as they drive their organizations to go faster in developing space assets and pursuing exploration. 
 
As DOD accelerates our efforts, we will partner closely with the interagency, industry, allies and partners.  I look forward to our continued engagement and partnership with Congress, as we work together in crafting the F.Y. '20 NDAA.  
 
Today, we need to establish the Space Force to protect our future.  As President Trump has stated, our destiny beyond the earth is not only a matter of national identity, but a matter of national security. 
 
Our competitors have made their choices.  Space is under threat.  But we are ready today and we will remain ready as these threats expand.  
 
To those who want to partner with us, buckle up.  We are seizing on a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.  We are starting now because we refuse to fall behind.  We can outpace our competitors and make it impossible for them to contest our dominance in space. 
 
I'd like to close by thanking our men and women of the Department of Defense for their remarkable work, for the remarkable work they do on our behalf and on behalf of our country.  We are eternally grateful.  God bless each of them, and God bless America.  With that, I'll turn it over to Secretary Ross.  Thank you very much.
 
(APPLAUSE)