HUNTSVILLE, Alabama — The U.S. military’s strategic commander stressed that speed is what it is going to take for the nation to avoid being outpaced by adversaries.
U.S. Air Force Gen. John E. Hyten, commander, U.S. Strategic Command, and Tennessee Valley native, spoke Aug. 8 on “Preparing Space, Cyberspace and Missile Defense in an Uncertain World.”
With the theme of “Enabling Decisive Action in a Multi-Domain Environment,” the 20th annual Space and Missile Defense Symposium was hosted at the Von Braun Center, Aug. 8-10. The symposium was presented by the Air, Space and Missile Defense Association, the National Defense Industrial Association’s Tennessee Valley Chapter and the Air Defense Artillery Association.
“The biggest privilege that I have is getting to command 184,000 of our nation’s greatest gifts,” Hyten said. “They are 184,000 men and women who come to work every day to deter our adversaries and provide a decisive response should deterrence fail.”
The symposium brought together experts and leaders to share their thoughts on the role space and missile defense plays in national and international defensive strategies. The symposium is designed to encourage information exchange between government, military and industrial leaders in providing future capabilities.
“Real damage to our national security can occur if we don’t get our heads around the problem set and start learning how to go fast,” Hyten said. “We are falling behind our adversaries because we forgot, somehow, how to move fast in this country. In both space and missile defense, we need to get back to the basics of speed and innovation. I don’t know when it happened, but somewhere along the line we developed a culture of risk aversion.
“We move slowly in everything that we do: the requirements process, the budget process, the acquisition process, they’re all slow and they all have to speed up,” he added. “There is too much at stake not to take action. Our requirements, budget and acquisition processes are all disconnected and none of them move quickly. We must have processes that are integrated, move fast and demonstrate greater risk tolerance.”
Hyten said USSTRATCOM must continue efforts to advance capabilities and technologies to stay ahead of adversaries. The threats have shifted significantly and nuclear weapons are not everything when it comes to strategic deterrence in the 21st century. He added that unlike the Cold War, the nation has a lot more than just a single adversary to worry about.
“The world today is a multi-domain, multi-polar problem and we have to tackle it on multiple fronts,” he said. “We now have to consider space and cyber in everything we do. We have to consider our allies and our partners, we have to consider all our adversaries, we have to consider the decisions being made in one region of the world will impact the outcome of a decision in another region. The agile, integrated multi-domain approach is what I consider to be 21st century strategic deterrence.”
With USSTRATCOM’s priorities being strategic deterrence, decisive response and maintaining a combat-ready force, Hyten said the combatant command will continue to provide the critical military foundation that enables America to strategically deter any potential adversary. Hyten added the command executes the mission extremely well, but needs to focus on integrating the missions to achieve effects on the battlefields of the future.
“The number one problem we face is being outpaced by our adversaries,” he said. “The actions we take today will assure continued American dominance, especially in the critical domain of space. The nation expects us to own the high ground.”
The general concluded his remarks by acknowledging the Warfighters, civilian employees and international partners who defend the nation and its allies against threats from across the globe.
“I see the most amazing people in the world,” Hyten said. “I see 184,000 who come to work every day to defend the nation and they want to go fast. The building blocks of speed and innovation are alive and well if we can just harness more of it.”