Comments on Senate Floor Regarding Space by Sen. Bob Smith

Status Report From: Sen. Bob Smith
Posted: Wednesday, November 20, 2002

Mr. SMITH of New Hampshire. Mr. President, when I came to the Senate in 1991, we were faced with Saddam Hussein and Iraq. Actually, my first speech on the floor was about Iraq and the war and the fact that we had to make a very difficult vote.

As I leave the Senate, here we are still facing--12 years later--Saddam Hussein and an imminent war with Iraq. So there is some irony there, I guess.

Before I make some closing remarks about my tenure here and leaving the Senate, I want to make a few remarks about something that I think has been somewhat ignored over the past several years in this body and, indeed, in the country, and that is the future of space and how space will help us to protect our national security and also not only our national security but just the pure science of space and the fascination with space and what we will find as we continue the exploration of space.

I hope the 21st century will be the one that takes us into space to help protect our Nation and, indeed, perhaps the world. I believe whoever controls space will control peace here on earth.

I made these statements several years ago and got some negative editorials for it. I was called spaceman by one of the more, if you will, ``prominent'' newspapers in my State. As Harry Truman said, ``If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.'' Sometimes a price is to be paid for leadership. I believe if they can say about me that I was one of the folks here that promoted space and the good things that can come to our Nation as a result of space--if I can be remembered for that--I would be very happy.

I want to draw my colleagues' attention to our Nation's future security in space. In 1998, I delivered a speech at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University on November 18, just 4 years ago. In that speech, I spoke about the challenge of space power. I labeled space the ``permanent frontier.'' Some say it is the ``final frontier.'' It is not final, it is permanent.

That is the fascinating part about space. I remember looking at the stars as a kid and thinking this goes on forever. It is a permanent frontier. There is no limit to how far we can go in the exploration of space.

When I came to the House in 1985, I served on the Space Subcommittee of the Science and Technology Committee until my election to the Senate in 1990. I had the pleasure of being in Congress during the Reagan administration. I remember with pride and emotion President Reagan's firm leadership and his commitment to rebuilding our military after years of neglect. He, too, offered a promise of space power, with his visionary Strategic Defense Initiative. Despite tremendous opposition and ridicule, with cynics and critics calling SDI ``star wars,'' his vision is being fulfilled today. It was a vision.

The ABM Treaty is on the waste heap of history, where it belongs. Mutual assured destruction has been exposed for the sham that it was, and we are moving toward deployment of a robust, multilayered ballistic missile defense system and toward providing the American people the protection they need from the growing and imminent threat of ballistic missiles in the hands of rogue states such as North Korea, Iran, Iraq, and others.

We stand now at a very uncertain time--perhaps on the brink of a greatly expanded war on terrorism. And while we try to find and eliminate terrorists and their cells, we are at risk in our cities, in the heartland, of more devastating terrorist attacks. In the heartland of our country, never before have we felt threatened like this.

None of us wish to be at war. I have served in war. I don't want to be in war. But we are in a state of war. I enlisted to serve in the Navy in Vietnam. I know what the horrors of war bring. But if this Nation has to go to war with Iraq, or anywhere else, to ensure our liberty, to ensure our freedom, to ensure that our lives are free of the threats of aggressive, dangerous dictators and the global terrorist network, I will support our President and I will support our troops, whether or not I am in the Senate.

All of my efforts in national security over my career in the House and Senate have been focused on ensuring that our troops--the men and women who put the uniform on and defend us every day--are well organized, trained, and equipped for war. Nothing less than that is satisfactory. If we are going to show the world that we are strong and we are prepared for war, few would choose the risky path of challenging us, and that is the message we must send.

The task of organizing, training, and equipping our forces is not a one-time effort; it is a continuously evolving challenge that must be attended with the same aggressiveness and unyielding commitment that our warfighters apply on the battlefield. The threats we face are constantly changing, as we saw on September 11, and our approach to warfighting must change as well.

As we have so vividly demonstrated in our prosecution of the global war on terrorism, we now have to protect our cities in our own homeland--our own buildings, the very buildings where we are sitting now.

My colleagues, I say to you, as I leave, that it is our job as leaders representing this great Nation to make sure our military is properly organized, trained, and equipped to meet its future challenges, and nothing we do here is more important.

In the early years of this Nation, we relied on the power of our Army and our Navy. In the early years of the last century, we saw the emergence of air power--which was also criticized when it first started--that has dominated our initial application of force in recent conflicts. But times are changing. The threats we face are changing.

GEN Chuck Horner, commander of our troops in Desert Storm, said after the conflict that we have witnessed the first space war--that was in 1991, tanks and troops navigating flawlessly through a featureless desert. That was the war against Iraq in 1991. Unprecedented intelligence; advance warning of incoming missiles; bombs dropped precisely on targets; command, control, and communications synchronizing a military scattered across a vast theater of war in the Middle East--all of these contributions were made possible by the use of space systems in 1991.

Had we not had those space systems and had we not had control, or had Iraq had control, the whole outcome may have been different.

This was not a real space war that General Horner was referring to. There were no shots fired in space. What we witnessed was an awakening to the enormous benefits that space systems provide our military. It is important to remember that we are not the only witnesses. The world and our potential adversaries watched us and learned from our prosecution of that war and every conflict since.

Like General Horner, General Krulak, former Marine Commandant, and a soldier greatly respected by me and by his marines and fellow officers, said that ``between 2015 and 2025, we have an opportunity to put a fleet on another sea. And that sea is space.''

That is a very far-reaching and visionary statement, Mr. President, from a great American, Chuck Krulak.

Our troops deserve every advantage we can give them. We ought to lay up at night thinking about what advantages we can give these men and women. If we are to preserve our current space advantage, then we must protect our space systems from any attack and deny our adversaries that same use of space. We must maintain space control. We also must do more than maintain the current status quo. Space offers our warfighters so much more; a space-based radar that tracks enemy movements behind the lines without risking air crews, a space plane that can project force anywhere on earth in 45 minutes or less, a low orbit space plane, new ways of looking for new threats. I fought to save that space plane, and it was cut during the 8 years of the Clinton administration.

The space plane, I believe, is beginning to receive the attention it deserves within the hierarchy of the Air Force Space Command.

The MSP, the military space plan, could access virtually all orbits and with specific upper-stage systems could help protect our extensive and vital space-based assets. This plan could provide platforms to support potential air, sea, and ground operations through its intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance sensor payloads while also providing potential precision long-range strike capability without putting men and women in uniform in harm's way--a tremendous asset to our arsenal. Yet it has been slowed down; it was cut. We now need to bring it back.

As we look even further into the future, visionaries see capabilities--this is always what I like to talk about, what the future will bring. It is fun to hear these visionaries talk, but in the future we are going to see capabilities like special operations troops delivered rapidly from one location to another through space and lasers, destroying targets instantaneously deep inside the enemy's territory. When the missile is fired, we blow it up with a laser over their territory, not ours.

Not only do these visions offer fast and effective military action, they offer the possibility of putting fewer men and women forward deployed with their lives at risk.

We cannot forget we must invest today to develop these and all the other capabilities if they are to be available for our future fighting men and women.

In 1999, with the support of my colleagues, I chartered the Space Commission to make recommendations to reorganize Government to better deliver the military space capabilities this Nation needs for the future. That Commission brought together this Nation's best defense and space leaders.

One of them was Donald Rumsfeld. He led the group just before he became our current Secretary of Defense. I would like to believe he was selected in part because he did such an outstanding job with the Space Commission--I hope that is one of the reasons why President Bush selected him as Secretary of Defense--and earlier with the Ballistic Missile Threat Commission.

Secretary Rumsfeld and his fellow commissioners found that future space warfare is a ``virtual certainty,'' and that we had better be prepared for it. The Space Commission's report warned about the ominous possibility of a ``space Pearl Harbor.'' It called for protecting satellites essential for military operations and developing space weapons to deter attacks in or from space and to defend against attacks if they occur.

The U.S. is now heavily dependent upon satellites with hundreds in orbit serving commercial as well as military uses. We are more dependent on space than any other nation in the world. Think about your cell phone. Were it not for space, you would not be using it.

In 1998, a Galaxy IV satellite malfunctioned. It shut down 80 percent of U.S. pagers and video feeds for cable and broadcast transmissions. It took weeks to restore service. In 2000, the U.S. lost all information from satellites for 3 hours when computers in ground stations malfunctioned. These incidents served to show how critical space has become to us.

The Space Commission recognized space weapons to deter attacks from space would be essential because we cannot protect satellites adequately without weapons in space. Remember that. Let me repeat it: We cannot protect our satellites in space without weapons in space. A weapon in space does not have to be an offensive weapon; it can be a defensive weapon.

The resulting space management reorganization stemming from the work of the Space Commission is nearly complete. The various stakeholders have decided which of the Space Commission's recommendations it will implement and how. Frankly, though, I am still skeptical that the changes that have been made will be effective in delivering the space capabilities this Nation needs.

Over the course of the last year, we have discovered that most of our current space programs are ``broken,'' severely underfunded, and behind schedule, and that is not good. I am not naive, and I do not blame the recent reforms for the current problems. However, I am not convinced the reforms that have been implemented are capable of making the tough choices that both, A, fix the problems with our current space programs and, B, keep us aggressively pressing forward with developing new technologies and capabilities we need for the future.

When we won the war in the Persian Gulf in 1991, it was with highly sophisticated weapons. Somebody 20, 30 years ago had the vision to build them. They did not crawl under a rock and say: That is just too far in the future; we are not going to deal with it--precision bombs and precision ordnance. Somebody had to think about it. Somebody had to put it on the drawing board. Somebody had to pay for it and build it.

If the Air Force cannot or will not step up to its responsibilities as the executive agent for military space, then Congress must do it, as the space commissioners noted, and create a separate space force to become that strong advocate. I have spoken of the need for the Air Force to build a dedicated space warfare cadre of younger space-trained officers and to stop assigning nonspace officers to lead space billets in space organizations. I predict that early in this 21st century, there will be a space force just as there now is an Air Force. There will be a space force.

For far too long, the Air Force's space institutions and commands have been led by officers not specializing in space. That must change if we are to move into this space era.

I have been a long-time advocate for the potential of national security space on the Hill. I know being an advocate for space is not easy. Believe me, I know. I have been ridiculed for it. These capabilities are complex, and they are not cheap, although I believe space power ultimately could be more cost-effective than some of our legacy systems.

I have also learned that some of the needed space capabilities, such as the Kinetic Energy Antisatellite or KE ASAT Program, can take longer than a career in Congress to deploy. Today we are only a modest amount of funding short of being ready to flight-test KE ASAT, one of our near-term space control programs.

KE ASAT offers the promise of complete space control at minimal cost to the taxpayers and delivers the essential 4 Ds--i.e., the ability to disrupt, degrade, deny, and destroy--required to deal with the enemy threat.

The old Soviet Union built a co-orbital satellite killer that it tested in space at least 20 times and which was operational with Soviet strategic forces for a decade. China is reportedly developing a hunter-killer microsatellite that would attach itself to an adversary's satellite and destroy it. Imagine the disruption that could cause us both militarily and commercially. We must be ready to protect against the deployment and use of such systems.

We cannot shy away from, nor shortchange, our commitment to transform our military for the future. This is our challenge.

I have carried the space banner through many tough fights, including the line-item veto by President Clinton of our emerging space power programs. Missile defense has survived, KE ASAT has survived, and the space plane, too. But these programs need ongoing commitment and funds toward deployment and real security for our Nation and our service men and women. They need to be reviewed at the highest levels of DOD, by the Secretary, by Under Secretaries Aldridge and Teets, and by the Secretary's trusted aide who served at the Space Commission as its Director, now at PA&E, Steve Cambone.

Some of my friends have asked why I focused on space since there is not a strong space constituency in my home State of New Hampshire. I beg to differ. There is a major constituency in New Hampshire that demands a strong, cost-effective national defense. In fact, I would argue that same constituency stretches all across America--a constituency that supports our military every day, not just during trying times.

If it is the right thing to do, whether you have a constituency in your State for it, we are here to lead. We are here to lead this Nation.

New Hampshire also is proud of its high-tech industry. New Hampshire is also the State that sent astronaut Alan Shepard and Christa McAuliffe to participate in the National Space Program. Christa lost her life aboard the Challenger in 1986. Both of them had ``the right stuff,'' and they created a surge of enthusiasm for space exploration.

As I prepare to leave the Senate, I look around and ask myself: Who is going to pick up the space banner I have carried? Who will advocate today for the needs of our future fighting men and women in space?

Forty years ago, and spurred in part by the shock of the Soviet success with Sputnik in 1957, President Kennedy challenged the Nation to look into space. He criticized Republicans--the Eisenhower administration--in fact, for letting the Russians get ahead in space. President Kennedy recognized even in those early days of space exploration the criticality of space that General Horner witnessed in Desert Storm.

President Kennedy told us the Nation that controls space will come to dominate the world. In a speech to Rice University in 1962, John F. Kennedy said the following:

The exploration of space will go ahead, whether we join in it or not. And it is one of the great adventures of all time, and no nation which expects to be the leader of other nations can expect to stay behind in this race for space.

We mean to lead it, for the eyes of the world now look into space, to the moon and to the planets beyond; and we have vowed that we shall not see it governed by a hostile flag of conquest, but by a banner of freedom and peace.

That was well said by a Democrat President. He was absolutely right.

Who do you want to control the satellites in space? Who do you want to control what goes on in space: Communist China, Iraq, North Korea, Libya, or the United States of America?

The day before his assassination, President Kennedy spoke at a dedication of the Aerospace Medical Health Center at Brooks Air Force Base in Texas, and he noted:

This Nation has tossed its cap across the wall of space and we have no choice but to follow it.

What a great visionary President Kennedy was on this issue. Leveraging space to ensure our freedom and to protect our allies is not a partisan issue. It is our moral obligation, pure and simple, just like it was to respond to the attacks of the Japanese and the Germans during World War II. It was our moral obligation to stop the killing by the Nazis, to stop the Bataan death marches, to stop the tyranny and the aggression. It is now our moral obligation to protect this Nation from the threat from space.

In his now famous speech at the Citadel, candidate George W. Bush said:

We need to skip a generation of technology.

And in space,

We must be able to protect our network of satellites essential to the flow of our commerce and the defense of our country.

He called for a new spirit of innovation and recognized the fact that many officers express impatience with the prevalent bureaucratic mindset that frustrates--and, I would argue, fails to reward--creativity.

We must reward creativity. George Bush called for a culture of command where change is welcomed and rewarded, not dreaded. To do that, we need to break with the past, get out of the box, put in charge people who are visionaries, who are ready to fulfill the President's and the Secretary of Defense's vision, to fulfill Ronald Reagan's vision for peace using space for peace. Even President Reagan, the hard-core conservative, offered to provide to the Soviet Union the technology to bring peace to the world if that was what it took.

As we stand now on the brink of an expanded war with Iraq, I ask myself whether we have provided our sons and daughters, husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, all the best technology that this country has to help them accomplish their mission quickly and bring them home safely. Have we? I do not think we have, with all due respect. We have the opportunity to do it if we will think about it now.

I think we can do better. I believe this body has the vision, the expertise, the knowledge, and the good people in it to ensure that we organize, train, and equip our military for the future, a future that leverages the full potential of space that we have only begun to realize. But we must exercise stringent oversight. We must serve as the catalyst to push a grudging--and it is a grudging--bureaucracy and military industrial complex into fulfilling that potential.

Bureaucracies are not innovative. They basically exist. They do not like change. We need to give them change. We need to impose it upon them.

President Reagan, speaking to the Young Astronauts program in 1986, told the participants that they were on ``the edge of our known world, standing on the shores of the infinite.''

What a statement: We are standing on the edge of our known world, on the shores of the infinite.

He called for them to touch the mystery of God's universe and to set sail across its waters into the most noble adventure of all. President Reagan achieved because he dreamed, because he motivated and he inspired. He understood that Americans, by nature, are dynamic people. They are good people. The change they bring is for the good, for the best of America, and that is all he worked on--for excellence, to rise to the challenge, the shining city on the hill, undaunted by threats, and with hope and optimism. That was President Reagan, following the words of President Kennedy.

Through enormous sacrifice, America has preserved her own freedom and freed millions around the world. We go to far off countries, serve in combat, die on fields in countries we have never heard of, day in and day out, year after year. As leaders in Congress, we are committed to preserving these freedoms for future generations, but to achieve that goal we must reach into space with gusto for its science, for its mystery, for the security it can offer us.

Control of space is more than a new mission to consider funding, it is our moral legacy. Moving into space is our next manifest destiny. It is our chance to create sanctity and security for centuries to come. It is our chance to do it. As I leave the Senate, I want to inspire my colleagues to pick up that cause because it is the right thing to do.

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