Hearing of the Strategic Forces Subcommittee of The House Armed Forces Committee - Opening Statement of Rep. Mike Rogers, Hearing on National Security Space: 21st Century Challenges, 20th Century Organization.


Date: Sept. 27, 2016
Location: Washington, DC
Issues: Defense

"I want to welcome everyone to the Strategic Forces Subcommittee's hearing on National Security Space: 21st Century Challenges, 20th Century Organization.

We are honored to have a distinguished panel of expert witnesses. We have:

Dr. John Hamre
Former Deputy Secretary of Defense

Retired Admiral James Ellis,
Former Commander of U.S. Strategic Command

Mr. Martin Faga
Former Director of the National Reconnaissance Office and Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Space.

Dr. Hamre, you are respected on both sides the political aisle, and known to be a wise and thoughtful leader on defense issues. I am aware that you have been studying space issues with a group of experts for some time. I am grateful to see you engaging on this very important subject.

Admiral Ellis and Mr. Faga, your leadership in national security space during your careers, as well as your recent co-chairing of the National Academies study on Space Defense and Protection, will provide this committee a very informed view regarding today's issues.

So why are we here today? I'd like to start with a quote.

'It is not sufficient to have just resources, dollars, and weapons systems; we must also have an organization which will allow us to develop the proper strategy, necessary planning, and the full warfighting capability.

We do not have an adequate organization structure today.

We have made improvements, [but those] improvements have only been made at the margin; we need to do much more … to be able to fight in today's environment … [it] will require the concerted efforts of all four services. The services can't operate alone … we are basically a committee system … committees are very good in a deliberative process, but they are notoriously poor in trying to run things.'

This statement rings true for today's hearing. In fact, those words were spoken in this very same hearing room, by a person sitting in the very same seat as our witnesses are sitting in today.

However, that statement was made by a witness on February 3, 1982.

That witness was the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Air Force General David Jones, speaking about the organization of the Joint Staff.

The statement General Jones made took great courage and upset many people in the Department of Defense at the time. Organizational change is hard, and unfortunately many people take it personally.

However, General Jones' candor with Congress led to one of the most sweeping and greatly-needed reforms of the DOD: the Goldwater-Nichols Department of Defense Reorganization Act of 1986.

Just as General Jones had the courage to talk honestly with this committee, I commend the witnesses today, who have the courage to discuss the challenges of the posture and organization of our national security space activities.

No one in this room needs to be convinced of the importance of space to national security. Space allows our warfighters to project power across the globe, and keep our homeland safe.

Unfortunately, potential adversaries have recognized this, and they are developing weapons to take away the advantages that we have built in space.

There is a fundamental question before us today: Is the Department of Defense strategically postured to effectively respond to these threats and to prioritize the changed space domain over the long-term?

It is all too clear to me that we are not.

There is no clear leadership of the military space domain below the Secretary of Defense. Yes, there is an advisor, councils, chiefs, directors, and even commanders. As the GAO states, 'DOD space leadership responsibilities are fragmented.'

While we certainly have great leaders within the space enterprise, the structure is set up such that far too many people are able to say 'no' without consequence for the delay and cost they create. Those responsible for organizing, training, equipping, and the operational missions in national security space are not actually in charge.

As General Hyten told the Senate Armed Services Committee in his confirmation hearing last week,

'We are moving much slower in certain areas than our adversaries. We need our industry and our acquisition process to move faster.'

I agree with General Hyten that we need to move faster, however I'm concerned with the performance I'm seeing today. For example, the GPS Next Generation Ground System program is currently going through Nunn-McCurdy breach for massive cost overruns, including a delay of operational capability that is 5 years beyond what was originally planned.

And I would talk about the Air Force's mismanagement of the weather satellite program, but I don't want to be spitting mad the rest of the day.

Unfortunately, this is not a single point case and it raises questions on the current enterprise's ability to deliver the next generation of space systems to address the threat we face.

Separately, the military space activities are managed within conflicting priorities of each of the armed services. Many resisted the views of air power visionaries such as Brigadier General Billy Mitchell and General Henry 'Hap' Arnold to have an independent Air Force, however very few will argue today with wisdom of their vision.

We have the best military and civilian space professionals, alongside the most talented industry in the world. I believe the question is not of their ability, but rather what tools, structures, incentives, responsibilities and authority we need to give them to succeed. Put another way; even the best leaders can't succeed in a failed system.

For those that shy away from reform, I ask if it is better to wait for a crisis to motivate those to change, or to instead build a better system in a thoughtful and deliberate manner in order to avert such a crisis in the future? As Dr. Hamre foreshadows in his statement for the record: 'space systems will be attacked.'

The 9/11 Commission noted that we had all the information and people needed to prevent that days' events. We suffered from 'a failure of imagination.' We must resist the temptation of bureaucrats to wait for a disaster to fix this known failure. We must expect better. This committee will.

This hearing is the start of focused oversight that we will conduct on this important topic. I anticipate it will lead to major reform in the Fiscal Year 2018 National Defense Authorization Act.

I thank the witnesses again for being with us today, and I look forward to your testimony and discussion."