(Senate - November 19, 2008)

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[Pages S10636-S10637]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []


  Mr. ALLARD. Mr. President, I wish to address the report to Congress 
of the Independent Assessment Panel on the Organization and Management 
of National Security Space, which was released on Tuesday, September 
16. The Institute for Defense Analyses, led by Mr. A. Thomas Young and 
a team of six qualified and experienced experts, undertook this project 
to provide the Congress with a comprehensive assessment of the state of 
our national space policy, especially as it relates to our national 
security and our position as the global leader in space.
  I raised concerns in 2006 when then-Secretary of Defense Donald 
Rumsfeld suggested that the commander of Air Force Space Command, based 
in Colorado Springs, should be downgraded from the four-star level to 
three stars. I reminded the Secretary that space is critical to our 
Armed Forces; that nearly every military operation we carry out makes 
use of assets in space in one way or another, be it using our 
satellites to locate the position of the enemy, providing instant 
communications, or gathering dependable intelligence. I was pleased the 
Pentagon opted not to institute this troublesome proposal.
  Following this episode, I authored legislation in the 2007 Defense 
authorization bill to establish a new space commission, similar to the 
2001 Commission to Assess U.S. National Security Space Management and 
Organization. I wanted an independent panel of space, intelligence, and 
military experts to study, analyze, and make recommendations to the 
Congress on the current state and future vision of America's national 
space agenda. This review began last fall, and I am pleased that it was 
completed in a timely manner.
  The panel began their report articulating what I have always 
understood to be true, that U.S. leadership in space is paramount to 
the preservation of our national security. It is key to our lasting 
ability to ward off modern and unexpected threats against our homeland 
or our allies and essential to maintaining our economic superiority in 
the ever-changing information age. Most importantly, the report 
reinforced that space-based technology is essential to our intelligence 
gathering and warfighting capabilities. As such, according to the 
panel, and I agree, updating and modernizing our national space policy 
and its related personnel structure must be a top priority. America's 
willingness and capacity to continue to lead in space provides our 
Nation with a priceless strategic advantage that will pay dividends for 
generations to come.
  As a result of their extensive research and thorough investigations,

[[Page S10637]]

the panel uncovered what they believed were fundamental structural and 
organizational flaws with the Federal Government's space sector. Such 
flaws include major management problems, poor communication among and 
between involved agencies, a lack of proper oversight and direction, a 
lack of expert professional personnel, and a host of others. The panel 
also recognized a scary reality--space technology is rapidly 
proliferating to all corners of the Earth, and America is not keeping 
up with its space competitors. This proliferation, combined with our 
space industry bogged down by aging legacy space projects that take 
vital resources away from newer, more modern projects, has taken its 
toll on our competitive edge with China and other emerging nations.
  Although some of these and other deficiencies were recognized and 
exposed by the 2001 Space Commission, drastic measures to adequately 
deal with the problems uncovered were not proposed and undertaken. This 
panel, however, took an alternate route and recommended bold proposals 
to redirect and radically improve our national space agenda. The panel 
recommends, and again I agree, that America needs a top-to-bottom 
overhaul to restore the vitality of our space programs and regain and 
sustain the competitive advantages afforded the United States by our 
preeminence in space. In no uncertain terms, the panel outlined a bold 
new vision for the future of America's role in space. It laid out four 
suggestions of significant substance to restructure our approach to 
space and realign our defense, intelligence, and commercial priorities 
as they relate to space.
  First, it calls for the President to create and implement a truly 
national space strategy. The President should announce to the American 
people that he is updating and modernizing America's space program 
immediately and elevating its priority status to the top tier of the 
national agenda.
  The panel recommends the President reestablish the National Space 
Council in the Executive Office of the President, under the leadership 
of the National Security Advisor, to implement the new strategy and 
coordinate its activities with the Department of Defense, the 
intelligence community, NASA, and other responsible agencies. This will 
provide one of the President's top advisers with the power to assign 
responsibilities, set priorities, and break through the barriers to 
cooperation that have stymied progress on key space programs in the 
  Second, the panel believes that no one is really in charge of the 
national space agenda. They discovered that in the midst of so much 
bureaucracy and competing authorities, regrettably there has been no 
one at the helm. This needs to change.
  The authorities and responsibilities for all Government space 
programs are spread widely throughout the Pentagon and within various 
intelligence agencies. Therefore, the panel recommends the creation of 
a National Security Space Authority that will be responsible to the 
Secretary of Defense and the Director of National Intelligence. The 
proposed arrangement is needed to remedy the ruinous deficiencies in 
the current system, including the frequent inability to reconcile 
budget priorities and the common failure to ensure that innovative 
acquisition program requirements are affordable and integrated across 
military and intelligence space domains.
  Third, the panel recommends to strip the National Reconnaissance 
Office and the Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center of their 
status as traditional, independent entities and incorporate their 
personnel and functions, as well as the functions of other parts of the 
Air Force Space Command, into a single National Security Space 
Organization. Under unified leadership, this organization could allow 
all the space experts to work more effectively together. The panel 
recommends this path because it most effectively utilizes the scarce 
talent available to achieve our Nation's goals in space. Under this 
type of organizational structure, the Government's space management 
team can focus on installing best engineering and acquisition 
practices, including early systems engineering and cost estimating. I 
am not sure I agree yet with this recommendation, but I think it does 
warrant serious consideration by the Congress.
  It is true that the continual problem of space acquisition program 
delays, cost overruns, and cancellations has drained resources and 
caused America to rely heavily on satellite constellations that have 
matured beyond their original design lives. This is simply 
unacceptable, and I think the panel is correct when they say that small 
modifications to the status quo, which have been proposed time and 
again in the past, are not enough. A new and innovative organizational 
structure is a good idea, but the details of the panel's third 
recommendation need to be vetted before I can lend my full support.
  Finally, the panel suggests that the intelligence community and each 
of the military branches adopt and execute strategies for identifying, 
selecting, educating, training, and managing a sufficient number of 
Government experts and professionals to support the country's space 
acquisition obligations. The careers of these space acquisition and 
technical professionals should be designed and administered so that 
they can provide continuity for the execution of long-term projects, 
while remaining eligible and competitive for career advancement.
  It is unrealistic to expect that we can modernize our space strategy 
and succeed in developing complex space systems without enough 
technically capable and sufficiently experienced Government scientists, 
engineers, and acquisition experts that are immersed in the space arena 
and assigned to see projects through to completion. These types of 
professionals are critical to the success of our future endeavors in 
  Throughout my time in the Congress I have fully supported science-
related education. This support includes space, defense, and national 
security studies as well. For example, I have supported funding 
requests for the Center for Space and Defense Studies at the U.S. Air 
Force Academy. The mission of this center is to build and define space 
policy studies curriculum for the undergraduate cadets. I have long 
supported the Center for Geosciences and Atmospheric Research at my 
alma mater, Colorado State University. This center is a national 
resource for the Department of Defense in the areas of atmospheric and 
hydrologic research, which are both critical to our national security.
  America needs more engineers, physicists, rocket scientists, 
mathematicians, and the like. We need them now and in the coming 
decades more than we ever have in the past. The future of our national 
security and defense capabilities rests with our ability to recruit, 
train, and equip more and more Americans with the critical knowledge 
and know-how of the hard sciences. The first step is making this type 
of education a top national priority, and it is my hope that America's 
future leaders will do so.
  Mr. President, I appreciate all four and fully support three of the 
panel's suggestions for the improvement of our national space strategy. 
In my opinion, if we fail to act on these recommendations, we face the 
possibility that our preeminence in space will erode to the point at 
which we will no longer enjoy a significant competitive national 
security advantage in an all-important global arena.
  Along with the American people, I am indebted to the panel for their 
hard and thoughtful work on this study. Their discoveries and 
suggestions for improvement are invaluable. It is my hope that the next 
Congress and the next administration will take a serious look at this 
study and craft an aggressive and coherent strategy for America's 
future presence in space.