A new program within Space Force and JADC2 | Defense News Weekly Full Episode 7.17.21
- [Presenter] "Defense News" is proudly sponsored by Navy Federal Credit Union. If you're a member of our nation's Armed Forces, the Department of Defense, or if you're family is, we'd be proud to serve you too. - On this episode of "Defense News Weekly," we look back at the annual C4ISRNET conference. Covering highlights of the industry's premier gathering of experts in the C4 space, we check out some of the biggest moments. It's the latest in news and analysis from the Pentagon to the platoon.
This is "Defense News Weekly." Welcome back to "Defense News Weekly." I'm Andrea Scott.
We have a special episode for you this week, excerpts from this year's C4ISRNET conference. Up first, reporter Nathan Strout talks to General David Thompson on how the Space Force's new Space Systems Command can help improve acquisitions. - Welcome to today's first keynote with General David D. Thompson, Vice Chief of Space Operations for the US Space Force. General Thompson is responsible for assisting the Chief of Space Operations in organizing, training, and equipping Space Forces in the United States and overseas, integrating space policy and guidance, and coordinating space-related activities for the Space Force and Department of the Air Force. General Thompson, thank you so much for joining us.
Let's jump right into some questions. I want to start our conversation with the discussion of Space Systems Command, the second of three field commands to be created under the US Space Force. General, how would you describe Space Systems Command, and how is it different from the Space and Missile Systems Center which it is ostensibly replacing? - Good morning, Nathan, and thanks for giving me the opportunity to speak with you and the group this morning. A great question.
I know you all are following something that we made in the last couple of weeks regarding the establishment of Space Systems Command. Really what Space Systems Command does is a couple of things. First of all, it's responsible for developing, procuring, acquiring, and fielding the space capabilities that the Space Force needs to be an integral part of the Joint Force to provide those effects that make our military and our way of conducting military operations different than anybody else. The establishment of Space Systems Command is actually another step on a continuing journey to make our acquisition organizations and our acquisition processes more rapid, more agile, and more suited to the threat that we face today and the needs of the force.
What specifically Space Systems Command did was it took the core of the work that had been done by Space and Missile Systems Center and JT Thompson over the last several years, what we call SMC 2.0 and does a couple of things. First of all, it adds in the responsibility and the requirement and the oversight of S&T-related activities. The Air Force Research Laboratory remains an integrated research laboratory for the Air Force and Space Force, but the Space Force individuals and the elements of the research laboratory that are reporting directly to the Space Force report through them. So it ties more closely our space acquisition with our S&T. The second thing it does is it realigns the Launch Enterprise fully under Space Systems Command. Perhaps we'll talk about that a little more in the future.
But launch is really a space system deployment activity and so it's gonna make that more efficient in the way that we conduct launch-related activities. And then finally it helps, it prepares us, it brings in a relationship, a strong relationship, with the Space Rapid Capabilities Office. It begins to establish a stronger relationship with the Space Development Agency so that, as we move forward, we can better and more effectively integrate and unify all of those activities for acquiring field and space capabilities. - Thanks for running through that.
You know, one of the arguments for the creation of the Space Force was that it would help unify space acquisitions under one organization, right? Do you think Space Force has largely done that with the establishment of Space Systems Command, or is that something that needs to come still or is that less a priority in the Space Force at this point in time? - It absolutely remains a priority. In fact, probably as you said, still one of the top priorities for the Space Force and for the nation. This is the latest step and by no means are we close to done. There's still much more work to do. A couple of additional things, as you and I think probably most of the audience members know, we are still working on elements of an alternative acquisition process that Congress has requested of us.
We've been working on it now for a couple of years with the Department of Defense, with RBN, with members of Congress. The reorganization and the new structure for Space Systems Command helps that, but there's more work to do. Some of those elements of the approach that we're proposing, we've already implemented. We've pushed responsibility down to program managers, we've provided them a head of contracting and contracting authority down to that level to be able to speed that. But there's more work to do. First of all, we'll continue to work with those in Congress.
OSD has a report due today. Oh I'm sorry, not today, in May, that describes the work we're doing, the progress we're making. So that's an important piece. The other thing, and it's not as visible and not as talked about as much, the new Assistant Secretary to the Air Force Office for Space Acquisition and Integration is a large, large part of what we're doing to deliver all the acquisition system. The way it brings those acquisition organizations together, not just the new SSC and Space RCO, but the Department of Air Force RCO office and MDA.
And SDA, even though it's not an official member of the Space Force is participating there. The National Reconnaissance Office. So it's not just SSC, it's this new Assistant Secretary inside the Air Force, the work they're doing, it's continuing to push on the changes to the process.
So I would call it an important step, but by no means are we done and fixing that process absolutely remains a priority of this mission. - Understood. Can you give us a sense of the timeline that you were planning on for transitioning more organizations from the other services into the Space Force? - Sure. We are on a path right now. In fact, here in the last several months, we have finalized, with the Army and the Navy, we finalized what we as all the services agree on the Forces that should be transitioned in.
I think previously decided and previously announced both the Mobile User Objective System, the Navy's UFO satellite system, both its operations, that system, its operation center, and the sustainment folks who support it are already in the process of the plan to transfer in in the coming years. We've completed an agreement with the Army on what should transfer. I won't go into detail there because we want to finish the planning. We're gonna communicate what's happening together with the Army. They've been a good partner in that but planning is underway.
You can expect, I think, details from both services soon. And the timeline is in work now, and you'll see later this year and continuing to next year, it will be a phase process by which they're transitioning them. - Excellent. You mentioned that the Space Systems Command creates a stronger relationship with Space Rapid Capabilities Office and the Space Development Agency, or at least begins to create that stronger relationship.
However, at least during the planning discussions in 2020, it was suggested that those organizations would be under Space Systems Command. Has the planning for that changed, and if so, can you explain the rationale to keep those technically outside of that new organization? - Sure, as part of the planning activity, we looked at a broad range of organizational options, assessed them on a whole host of factors. And we also looked at the limitations and the constraints. And right now by law, in the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act, Congress specified that the Space Rapid Capabilities Office reports to the Chief Space Operations. In 2021, Congress specified that when Space Development Agency transitions into the Space Force, it will report to the Chief of Space Operations.
So in that case, in that sense right now, our ability to affect some of that is impacted by law. We have to comply with the law. Congress has taken special interest in this activity and these organizations, like all of us. And so our first organizational construct moves us in the direction that we need to and, at the same time, complies with laws we're required to do. Our desire and our intent is to continue to work with Congress, to continue to show them our vision, how we want it to work together, what organizational construct we believe help facilitate that, and gain their support and advocacy. And obviously ensure that as we do that, we comply with law.
So you can anticipate that, as we move forward, we'll continue to look at ways to evolve SSC and some of those things, but in all cases, we'll consult with Congress, we'll work with Congress and absolutely comply with the law. - When we come back, more from the 2021 C4ISRNET conference. - [Presenter] The military and defense market is constantly evolving. Stay on top of the latest news with Sightline Media Group's live events.
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You'll gain valuable insight, get the chance to ask questions, all from the comfort of your own home or office. Sign up for our events newsletters, and receive alerts for upcoming live streams. - Welcome back. In this special episode, we're checking out highlights of the 2021 C4ISRNET conference. Up next, reporter Andrew Eversden talks with Lieutenant General Dennis Crall.
- To get started here, JADC2 is obviously one of the most talked about programs in the Pentagon right now. And I imagine there's probably quite a bit of pressure on everyone involved to deliver. What do your bosses tell you about the importance of delivering on JADC2? - Well, thank you for the opportunity to share a few thoughts on JADC2 this morning. You know, it's an interesting question. The pressure I think is really internal and shared by all of us. We have a war fighting need.
That's really where the pressure comes from. And that's to deliver in the fight that we expect to have. You know, you're always preparing and always training. And that fight is gonna be more automated. It's gonna be moved at a faster speed, and we're gonna have machines working well with humans in order to meet that pace.
So the real pressure is on to deliver what I think are the four components to make JADC2 work in the department. That first one has already launched. And that was really the rebranding and re-establishing of our JADC2 Cross-Functional Team. That's the engine room behind doing a lot of the detailed work that leads to real milestones and deliverables. The second piece is the strategy, which we're hoping is near, you know, running through the building for its signatures as we brief that up through the Deputy Secretary and hope soon to get that signed by the Secretary, which will codify the lines of effort and really our approach to delivering the capabilities required to JADC2.
The other two items are hot on their heels, and that would be the posture review or gap analysis. We're nearly complete with that. If the strategy is that benchmark of what you want to do, the posture review is that document that comes back and says here's what you're missing in order to get there. That's a pretty significant requirement for funding plans to make sure that these things are resourced properly. Then the most important aspect which we've already started to fill out is the implementation plan. Everything that happens to the left of the implementation plan is just planning.
The implementation plan lays down the plan of attack and milestones, the very specific delivery dates and what type of delivery we're expecting and when. So really the rubber meets the road in that document. And we've just now started to identify the leads for those discrete pieces of JADC2, and when those delivery order and timelines will be met. So that's really where the pressure lies. And I think we're on a pretty good pace to deliver.
- Yeah, and as we talk about Joint All-Domain Command and Control, obviously it's a program that will take place over several years, you know. What are some of the key milestones though that you're hoping to hit maybe in the next calendar year? - Yeah, the one that's right up in front of us is this is about, you know, learning by doing. So we can write a lot. And you know, the documentation is necessary to have a durable, repeatable, provable way to do this in an orderly fashion and make sure you're satisfied with the results. But there's also a part of us that we want to start now, an experiment to inform those products. So really what I think is a pretty good accomplishment in addition to getting a JADC2 strategy written, briefed, briefed even to the Hill with the PSMs, the professional staff members, and driving some of these mission threads, it's starting that work on demonstrations and mission threads that has me most excited.
So we picked a few. We've had about 80 submissions, we've whittled that down to really two viable categories and about 14 test cases. We're gonna burn these fires bright. So we're pretty excited about that. And the other is really making making us a data centric organization, identifying the policies that need to change in the department to make sure that we can share, access, store, and, you know, settle the ownership matters around data. So those are some pretty heavy lifts that we've made great progress on already.
- Yeah, there's been some talk in the press recently about the JADC2 Cross-Functional Team, DOD, Congress, discussing reforms to the acquisition process to get some of those experimental technologies into acquisition programs. What needs to change and what sort of options are you exploring there? - Well, you know, first you start with the condition. And that is that we live with the set of acquisition rules, as far as pace goes, that probably fit the Cold War era very well. When you look at the threat at that time, moving at 3, 5, 10-year pace was acceptable.
And most of the equipment that was procured during that time lend itself to long lead and long build times. Physical things you can touch and see and the like. In the digital age, that mechanism doesn't work well.
Putting us on a 5-year POM cycle for funding, for example, makes it really challenging to identify a set of capabilities or requirements, lay out a 5-year plan of spending. And we end up getting yesterday's technology delivered tomorrow. By the time those funding streams come through and you execute those contracts, in many cases, the technology has already been surpassed. So I know that, again, Congress has reached out to us and it has discussed options that they're looking at. In the crudest sense, I would probably say something akin to an investment capital fund, which DOD doesn't have.
You know, money that could be earmarked. You know, multi-use money. So it's not too specific, but allows that to be spent quickly.
We could probably move faster to retire legacy, onboard some modern things to get after it as well. So I think that there might be some appetite to explore things along those lines. - On this edition of "Money Minute," Navy Federal Credit Union personal finance expert, Jeanette Mack, gives her latest tips. - According to a Navy federal survey, 87% of active duty households picked up a new financial habit as a result of COVID-19.
Like cutting back on daily spending or keeping close track of their finances. These may seem basic but you'd be surprised how big an impact these small changes can make. All it takes is paying a bit more attention. I always say it, but it's important for your bottom line, know where your money is going. Write it down or use an app.
If you need help, connect with your financial institution. Hopefully it's one that understands the military life and the demands that come along with it so they can help you create a budget and reach your goals. Another habit to keep up or begin again, now that the economy is coming back, is paying your bills early or on time monthly.
It can help you establish or revive a healthy credit score, which leads to saving money over time on loans and credit in general. And speaking of saving money, are you using all of the available military discounts out there? Don't leave money on the table. Get the perks your service has earned you and use those discounts to keep more money in your pocket. Lastly, it's never too early or too late to plan for the future.
So contribute to your TSP at minimum, the amount the government will match per paycheck. It's easy money, so take it! You don't have to wait for a reason to pick up good financial habits. Start now. Your future self will thank you.
- Thanks, Jeanette. We'll see you next week. To get more of our coverage, check out Army, Navy, Air Force, and MarineCorpsTimes.com and DefenseNews.com. And get a list of the top military stories of the day in your inbox with our early bird brief.
And be sure to give us a follow on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. And when we come back, more from the annual C4ISRNET conference. Welcome back.
In this special episode, we check out more select excerpts from this year's C4ISRNET conference. - Space Systems Command creates a more enterprise approach to launch, really unifying a lot of that effort, those lines of effort. Can you sort of walk us through how this will change the way Space Force buys and conducts launches? What's the top line benefits of doing it this way? - Yeah, so really the top line benefit is it really consolidates that entire activity under one organization and one command. As I mentioned briefly previously, while launch is, tactically speaking, is that operation, preparing a vehicle for launch, actually executing the launch, all of the operations to secure the aerospace and the sea space and the land around the launch and ensure that the data's collected and ensure the launch and the flight are all conducted in a safe manner, that's an intense operational activity. But at the end of the day, it's really an activity that we engage in as a Space Force to deploy the space systems and the space capabilities that the Joint Force needs.
Our units today, the 30th Space Wing, the 45th Space Wing, Cape Canaveral at the Vandenberg Air Force Base about to become Space Launch Deltas as we transform them into a Space Force enterprise, those units are not assigned to a combat command. They don't belong to US base command. They are retained by the US Air Force for the purpose of deploying systems. And so in this reorganization, putting together the launch operations, the range operations, the program office with the responsibility of acquiring the launch vehicle, of maintaining and upgrading the ranges, all for the purposes of deploying those space capabilities is a way to unify that activity, to make it more efficient and ultimately more effective. While it doesn't directly change our approach to the acquisition of launch vehicles and launch services today, it creates a more integrated ecosystem to allow us to evolve our approach to launch in the future as our needs change, as the industry changes, as the services available and other things change. That's really what it does.
- With this unification of launch efforts, will the Space Force take- Will responsive launch efforts fall under that enterprise? We've sort of seen that be taken up by DARPA in the past, Defense Innovation Unit. You know, that idea of being able to launch new capabilities into space at a tactical speed, to either replace capabilities that are taken down or disabled somehow or get new capabilities up? - The things that DARPA does today, the things that DIU do today to help innovate, to help push the edge of technology and operational concepts, we absolutely want them and need them to keep doing those things. They're a great partner and just like they do for their domains, we want them to do those sorts of things. As those technologies evolve, as those new ideas and innovative operational concepts evolve and become viable for our needs, our missions, our requirements, we will absolutely adopt them.
But we want DARPA and DIU and others to continue to push those ideas, push that technology, and push our thinking in that regard. We do, in fact, SSC does have what I'll call a small and rapid launch office and capability today. It's actually part of Space and Missile Systems Center today, soon to be SSC, out of Kirtland Air Force Base. They've got a division out there that does a whole host of things, including a small and rapid launch office.
And they work with venture class providers and some others, for those smaller, lower cost and rapid capabilities. So we do have an office that works with those small rapid launch providers today. But absolutely DARPA, DIU, AFRL, all of those creative and experimentation and rapid prototyping type activities to evolve the Launch Enterprise, they need to keep doing what they're doing.
And as those become capabilities that we can use specifically in the Space Force, we will definitely bring them in, adapt them and apply them to our missions. - And that's all we have time for this week. Please visit us on C4ISRNET.com for more coverage. Thank you for joining us and we'll see you next week.