Hearing of the Strategic Forces Subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee - Fiscal Year 2016 National Security Space Activities

Hearing

Date: March 25, 2015
Location: Washington, DC

Good afternoon. I want to welcome everyone to the Strategic Forces Subcommittee's hearing on the Fiscal Year 2016 National Security Space activities of the Department of Defense.

We are honored to have of panel of expert witnesses, who lead multiple areas of our national security space enterprise. They are:

General John Hyten
Commander, Air Force Space Command

Mr. Douglas Loverro
Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Space Policy

Mr. Dyke Weatherington
Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense, Space, Strategic and Intelligence Systems

Lieutenant General John "Jay" Raymond
Commander, Joint Functional Component Command for Space

Mr. Robert Cardillo
Director, National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency

And,

Ms. Betty Sapp
Director, National Reconnaissance Office

This is a big panel. We will work to give every member a chance to ask questions in this open hearing, at which point we will adjourn to a closed session to continue our oversight in an appropriately secure fashion.

I'd also like to note that this is the first time we are having the Director of NGA testify at the Strategic Forces annual space posture hearing. This is important both literally and symbolically.

From a literal point of view, NGA has critical role within the national security space community, and as a combat support agency, NGA provides tremendous support to our warfighters.

From a symbolic point of view, the six of you on this panel, along with the other armed services and members of the space community, need to be working extremely closely together. While each of you has your own missions with different roles and responsibilities, it's essential that national security space is integrated across the Department of Defense, both unclassified and classified programs. In the end, all of your jobs are to support and defend our country.

Regarding the posture of national security space, we currently face many serious challenges. On January 28th of this year, the Armed Services Committee held a hearing with Mr. Frank Kendall, the Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics, as a witness. Chairman Mac Thornberry opened up the hearing with a question regarding U.S. technological superiority, and asked Mr. Kendall to provide his greatest concern.

Mr. Kendall responded that, 'We are at risk, and the situation is getting worse.' He further went on to state that, 'the U.S. [is] being challenged at an unprecedented rate. It's not just missiles, it's other things, such as electronic warfare capabilities, it's anti-satellite capabilities and a spectrum of things to defeat our space systems. It's a number of things, which I think are being developed very consciously to defeat the American way of projecting power and we need to respond to that.'

Mr. Kendall could not talk specifics in an open session, but when the most senior acquisition and technology leader of the Department of Defense says we are at risk of losing our technological superiority, he must have our attention. We want to understand how you will be addressing this threat.

Aside from the growing foreign threat, we've also heard from senior DoD and Air Force leaders about their concern about our assured access to space posture going forward. We held a hearing on this last week, and will have a few more questions on that topic today.

Separately, we've heard of risks of not maintaining the appropriate space-based weather collection capabilities for top Department of Defense requirements. I'm concerned we are not taking a strategic long-term view and are headed down a path with significant risk. We will not allow critical capabilities our warfighters rely on to be based out of Moscow or Beijing.

Additionally, we have systems on orbit that we've invested billions of taxpayer dollars in, that we are still not fully using because of delays in ground systems and user terminals. We must do better for the taxpayers and the warfighters.

And lastly, we are all aware of the current budget pressure. This means we need to do business smarter, without sacrificing capability. As I have said multiple times in the past, I believe we can save money in wideband satellite communications, as one example. It will take strategic planning, better partnerships with commercial industry, and new contracting approaches.

Regarding the budget request, I support technology development and evolutionary acquisition, but remained concerned with efforts to create new programs, such as in missile warning and protected communications, and will conduct close oversight of such activities. I will need to be convinced that this is the right time to make billions of dollars in investments in new programs, when our current programs are working better than expected.

I know the great men and women of the Department of Defense, including military, civilian, and industry partners will not shy away from these challenges. It will take work, and I believe that we need to strengthen national security space though capabilities development, organization, management, policy, and funding.

Thank you again for your leadership and for being with us today regarding this important topic, and I look forward to your testimony.


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