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Hearing of the Strategic Forces Subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee - FY13 National Defense Authorization Budget Request for National Security Space Activities


Location: Washington, DC

The Subcommittee on Strategic Forces held a hearing today on the Fiscal Year 2013 National Defense Authorization Budget Request for National Security Space Activities. Chairman Michael R. Turner

gave the following remarks as prepared for delivery:

"I want to welcome everyone to the Strategic Forces Subcommittee's hearing on the Fiscal Year 2013 budget request for national security space activities. Our distinguished witnesses this afternoon are:

-General William Shelton, Commander of Air Force Space Command;
-Ambassador Greg Schulte, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Space Policy;
-Mr. Gil Klinger, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense, Space and Intelligence Office; and
-Ms. Betty Sapp, Principal Deputy Director of the National Reconnaissance Office.

"I would like to start by congratulating you on the significant accomplishments in national security space over the past year. Due to tremendous efforts of the military, civilians, and contractors of the Department of Defense and Intelligence Community, we have a number of new critical capabilities on orbit. This could not be accomplished without the launch teams' efforts, which continued an impressive record of 49 out of 49 successful Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) launches.

"The National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) has completed an extremely aggressive and successful campaign of 6 launches in 7 months. And although we cannot talk here about the capabilities that the NRO brings to the fight, the warfighter, intelligence community, and policy makers are all significantly benefiting from these launches.

"While there have been great strides, this year's space hearing is especially important as we work to understand the significant reductions to the space program, and its future impact on national security.

"It is clear that space capabilities are essential elements of our military and intelligence construct. Space will continue to be a key enabler of our national security as the U.S. maintains the ability to operate in anti-access, anti-denial environments. As such, in the new Defense Strategic Guidance, the President and Secretary of Defense listed the ability to operate effectively in space and cyberspace as a primary mission area of the U.S. Armed Forces. Yet, the Fiscal Year 2013 budget request for Department of Defense space programs was reduced by 22 percent from last year's request.

"I am concerned that a significant portion of these funding cuts are taken from research and development programs. For example, the research and development in the Evolved Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF) satellite communications program is reduced by over 75 percent. This investment is part of a broader space acquisition strategy started last year, formerly called Evolutionary Acquisition for Space Efficiency (EASE), designed to reinvest savings from a block buy into a stable research and development program to lower risk for future programs.

"Further, the Department proposed to terminate two programs that push the boundaries for small satellites and experimental payloads -- the Space Test Program and the Operationally Responsive Space office. The Space Test Program has driven innovation from the bench-tops of defense laboratories across the country to on-orbit space capabilities. Many space programs that we rely on daily, such as Global Positioning System (GPS), have their origins in the Space Test Program. I am not satisfied with the justification that has been provided for terminating the Space Test Program.

"The Operationally Responsive Space (ORS) office was established by Congress in the Defense Authorization process to address the need to rapidly reconstitute space capabilities under various threat scenarios and the desire to shorten the lengthy space acquisition cycle. The ORS office has responded to urgent warfighter needs, and delivered critical capabilities. To date, I am not satisfied with the Department's plan to support this important mission after the proposed ORS termination.

"I am pleased to see that the major spacecraft acquisition programs appear to be sufficiently funded in the budget request. Continued investment in core capabilities, such as GPS, AEHF, Wideband Global Satellite Communications (WGS), Mobile User Objective System (MUOS), and Space Based Infrared Systems (SBIRS), remains one of the top priorities. Yet, as some program acquisitions cross multiple services in the Department, we must be conscious of the timing of our investments and properly align the schedules to deliver the spacecraft, ground segment, and user terminals in the most effective manner possible, consistent with the needs of the warfighter.

"Assured access to space through our launch program remains another priority for this subcommittee. The price of launch has risen significantly in the past couple years, and the committee will continue close oversight as we work to understand the Air Force's new acquisition strategy for the EELV program. As General Shelton noted in his written testimony, this strategy will address industrial base viability and cost growth while making provisions to leverage emerging competition. Further, as directed in our Fiscal Year 2012 National Defense Authorization Act, we look forward to the President's plan for a National Rocket Propulsion strategy that includes the Department of Defense, NASA, and Intelligence Community efforts. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) recently released a report on duplication that noted the space launch acquisition processes for NASA and Department of Defense duplicate one another and may not fully leverage the government's investment. In your opening testimonies, we would appreciate hearing about collaboration in space launch activities across the government to reduce duplication and leverage investments.

"Regarding space policy, I support the administration's decision not to sign onto the draft European Union Code of Conduct for Outer Space Activities. However, I am concerned that your stated agreement with elements of this Code of Conduct and intention to negotiate something similar could establish the foundation for a future arms control regime that binds the United States without the approval of Congress, which would bypass the established constitutional processes by which the United States becomes bound by international law. Additionally, I have significant policy and operational concerns with the EU Code of Conduct with regard to national security. Earlier today, I received a written response from the Administration, which was unsatisfactory and leaves no choice but to legislate in the National Defense Authorization Act. The letters will be added as part of the record.

"Lastly, as policy-makers, we rely on the assessments provided by the National Air and Space Intelligence Center (NASIC) to understand foreign space threats. It is clear that as our dependency on space systems increases and threats continue to develop, our space situational awareness is critical, and the space constellation and ground network must be resilient. NASIC is our first line of all-source intelligence analysis on space threats to form U.S. defense policy decisions. There are many aspects to this important area of national security and we look forward to working together to reach enduring solutions.

"Thank you again for being with us today. You each possess a tremendous amount of expertise and insight on our nation's space policy and capabilities, and our nation is better off as a result of your service. I look forward to your testimony."

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