Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Global Warfare Symposium: Session Summaries

The 2012 Global Warfare Symposium, held in Los Angeles, CA on November 15-16, focused heavily on space-based ISR. More information on the speakers and content can be found in the audio podcasts ( in the Daily Report archives, and in upcoming issues of Air Force Magazine. Below is a recap of the remarks made by the many high-caliber speakers at this year’s symposium.


Space Superiority: And Enduring Source of American Strength - Dr. Jamie Morin, Undersecretary of the Air Force

Dr. Morin kicked off the symposium stressing the Air Force’s role as THE space force, with space focus as a fundamental pillar of air superiority.  Looking at our accomplishments over the past century including the work in the private sector, Morin remarks that the “advances of today stand on the shoulders of innovative engineers” and will continue to with Airmen at the core. In the question and answer session he mentioned that 20% of the FY13 Air Force investment budget is for space, and that the cost of mission assurance is avoiding the cost of failure. “The best way to avoid a space Pearl Harbor,” Morin says, “is to know it’s coming.”

Faster-Better-Cheaper, Transformation, COIN, Pivoting, Rebalancing, etc. (How About a Longer View?) – Bran Ferren, Co-Chairman, Applied Minds, LLC

Ferren took an unconventional, high level, long range look at technology in his engaging talk. Using GPS as an example of a program with a series of progressions starting with no interest to one of our most valuable assets. That said, he advises the Air force to make the commitment today to get off reliance on GPS in the next 10 years before it’s used against us. “Innovation has never come out of requirement,” he states, and we have a bad model currently of not rewarding success but punishing failure. With more risks, the faster we move and the more we learn. If the Air Force can focus on education and great thoughts within a “259 year vision,” then we will “put the world on notice that America is not just a soundbite nation”. Ferren suggested starting with fixing acquisition, fundamentally changing ISR and creating survivable communications. Ferren got mixed reviews from the audience, but he certainly shook things up.

The Asia Pivot in the Context of US Grand Strategy – Dr. Adam Grissom, Senior Political Scientists, RAND Corp.

Dr. Grissom first described grand strategy as an evolving idea made up of ends, ways and means, like the U.S. Constitution. The golden era of American grand strategy for him was in the 40s and 50s during the Truman and Eisenhower years, while the turning point is now. Our previous approach, he suggests, is no longer sustainable, and our level of deficit spending is no longer viable. The challenge he sees for the United States is to start on a sustainable path, avoid the cycle of instability leading to fiscal pressure and retrenchment. The USAF is central in addressing this, and has played a role in the past. For Grissom, it’s about numbers: a combat Air Force can be everywhere at once.

Panel: The Challenge of ISR Across the Extended Domain: Moderated by Lt Gen Ellen Pawlikowski, with John Celli of Space Systems/Loral, Dr. Walter Scott of DigitalGlobe, and Kay Sears of Intelsat General

In this industry panel, speakers ended the day with offering advice for leveraging commercial industry to yield affordable solutions to move forward. Cost-effective option are out there for ISR, and the Air Force will have to get creative.


Air Operations in Israel’s War Against Hezbollah – Dr. Benjamin Lambeth, Senior Fellow, Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments

Starting with a RAND Study in 2007 and a letter of support, Lambeth dove into Israel’s air offensive,  the “rocket wars” and the move to ground strength. Was the Lebanon campaign that much of a setback for Israel he asks? The bottom line: even the most cable air weapon imaginable can never be more effective than the strategy it is expected to support. The report can be found here:

USAF Global Posture-- Dr. Stacie Pettyjohn, Associate Political Scientist, RAND Corp.

Dr. Pettyjohn looked at the extensive and global posture of the Air Force in terms of a posture triangle of strategic anchors, support links and forward operating locations. Our international basing options will depend on our close security partners, regime type and access relationships with other nations. She predicts that emerging partners will want a US presence, but on a less permanent basis, while periodic or continuous rotation of forces will be a good fit for other partners.

Space Command Update – Gen William Shelton, Commander Air Force Space Command

“There’s not anything we do in the Air Force that doesn’t involve space and cyber” said General Shelton to start. General Shelton continued with an overview of the current state of satellites (aging), sustaining capabilities, and the future focus. For an information-focused command going forward the Air Force will have to take advantage of the nontraditional IRS collected on sensors and pods of aircrafts and study possible alternatives for wideband communications with commercial services.

Air Force ISR –Lt Gen Larry James, DCS, Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance

General James looks to the worldwide strategic focus across air, space and cyberspace with future air-centric ISR. While efforts shift to the Pacific, James reminded us that intelligence never left the Pacific, and will become less associated with a platform. With an airborne perspective, the way ahead will include non-traditional ISR on stealth platforms with the ability to do standoff operations. With current crowd-sourcing, intelligence is already available via twitter, facebook, and cameras on cell phones. He stressed the need for the right information at the right time to the right person to make the right decisions using our resources.

The Space Mission –Gwynne Shotwell, SpaceX

Shotwell introduced the audience to SpaceX’s test and capabilities while framing the conversation with space competition in the private sector for work with the USAF. By including SpaceX and other competitors, the Air Force could increase launch capability by 50%, along with increased buying capacity and power for mission assurance. The focus in space will be getting data and intelligence to the warfighter.

America’s Secret Mig Squadron –Col Gaillard “Gail” Peck, USAF (Ret,), Author and USAF Fighter Weapons School Instructor

Colonel Peck also spoke at the 2012 Air and Space Conference on this topic. His involvement with this formerly secret project led to a book on the subject that goes into great detail on how the USAF adapted and learned to fight Migs. Check out his book:

State of the Air Force –Michael Donley, Secretary of the Air Force

Secretary Donley concluded the symposium with an emphasis on Asia Pacific and the Middle East with a smaller, leaner, but agile, flexible and technologically-advanced force. He reinforced the need for space-based ISR and reminded us that airpower is well suited to meet the challenges of geography and distance.

During the awards dinner the following were awarded:

Gen Bernard Schriever Fellowship to Lt Gen Susan Helms
Gen Thomas D. White Space Award to Lt Gen Ellen Palikowski
Michael Wilson Scholarships to Cadets Daniel Myers and William Schimmel

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