Remarks by CSO Gen. Chance Saltzman at the 2024 Space Symposium (April 10, 2024)

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  • Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs
As Delivered by Chief of Space Operations U.S. Space Force Gen Chance Saltzman on April 10, 2024.

Thanks for that kind introduction.

I was a little worried you would tell a bunch of stories that I’d have to refute the rest of the week so I appreciate you focusing on my better half.

I’m honored to be here with Secretary Kendall.

During this time of Great Power Competition, he has instilled a sense of urgency and focus across this Department, and it is spreading beyond the Department to industry and international partners – you can actually feel the energy.

We owe that to Secretary Kendall.

So, thank you for your leadership, sir.

You can feel that energy here in the Space Symposium.

I feel it walking around.

And then it occurs to me.

Perhaps that energy is because some of you expect me to tell a dad joke…


Let me tell you trying to be funny with a space crowd is a lot of pressure…I told my wife, Jennifer, that coming up with a good dad joke about space was a bit nerve-wracking…but she didn’t seem to understand the gravity of the situation.


So, I went for advice to my friend Col Nick Hague…great Guardian… great astronaut.

Many of you know is scheduled to launch back to the International Space Station for a second tour in space later this Summer.

Now as an astronaut, he does a lot of Public Affairs work so I figured he could help.

Well, he started to tell me this joke about being on the ISS for 6 months and needing space, blah, blah, blah, blah…and when I didn’t laugh, he looked me square in the eye and said, “Well, I guess you had to be there.”


Touche, touché Nick…

I’d like to give a big thank you to the Space Foundation and everybody who has been involved in bringing this event together. Another terrific turnout for the space community…thanks to everybody.

Now it’s been brought to my attention that today is the 112th anniversary of the maiden voyage of the Titanic.

Not an event normally associated with space so you might wonder why that is of any importance to our space community… but in fact that disaster resulted in the first ever International Conference on the Safety of Life at Sea and the establishment of the International Ice Patrol.

And these new initiatives paved the way for greater international cooperation in the sea domain, including stronger communications requirements, and shared domain awareness… in this case of course tracking and reporting icebergs – this goes to show space operators are not the only ones worried about hazardous chunks floating around in their domain.

And it is in this same vein of safety that we’re working hard on similar arrangements, but hopefully we won’t need a Titanic-level catastrophe to drive international cooperation.

Instead, we are strengthening our international efforts on space control, space cooperation and space classification to increase communication and collaboration to prevent a disaster in space.

This includes full spectrum collaboration with our allies and industry…planning, operations, situational awareness, information sharing, capabilities development, and everything in between.

That’s why this week, this gathering, is so important for the space community and so important for allies and partners.

I don’t think I have to convince this crowd how important space is to the Joint fight – it is in the DNA of this event.

Back in 2007, I was a Commander at the 614th Space Operations Squadron, General Kevin Chilton, then Air Force Space Command Commander, talked about how “space had become integral to virtually every combat operation whether it is on land, sea, undersea, or in the air.”

In 2016, Deputy Secretary of Defense Bob Work said, “our space capabilities are central to our ability to project power anywhere on the globe…they contribute to every aspect of the Joint multi-dimensional battle networks we assemble to fight and prevail over any opponent.”

And in 2022, our first Chief of Space Operations, General Jay Raymond, said, “If we lose our access and ability to operate freely in space…we all lose.”

And just last year, my good friend, Admiral Sam Papparo while serving as the PACFLEET Commander told the PACOM Commander in an exercise, “If space is off plan, then I’m off plan.”

Several different decades, several different leaders, from several different services but the same message – Our success on the battlefield, no matter the location or domain, is tied to our success in space.

And I agree with them. I have been a part of this evolution personally for decades.

Back in the day, it was common for planners to think of space as being kind of the “icing on the cake” making things better but only added in to the final product after it was fully baked.

But that changed over the years and today I think the better analogy is that space is like the eggs in the batter.

It is integral to the final product, a critical ingredient and once baked, it's impossible to separate.

So, we do space superiority not for space’s sake, we do space superiority as a critical part of the joint team, an essential element to meeting military objectives.

The talking points are well known to this crowd…the Air Force uses position, navigation, and timing to increase the accuracy of their munitions.

The Navy uses satellite communications to provide seamless connectivity across vast maritime expanses.

The Army uses tactical warning and environmental monitoring to plan and execute ground maneuvers.

But now let’s go a step further. Our use of space is not just limited to the military.

Our economy, as with that of the rest of the world, is also dependent on unfettered access to the domain.

As this crowd understands, our very way of life is directly tied to space!

Remote sensing satellites provide key data for monitoring soil, snow cover, drought, and crop development.

This information helps famers plan the timing and amount of irrigation they will need for crops.

The precise timing provided by the GPS constellation is crucial to a variety of economic activities around the world.

Communication systems, electrical power grids, and financial networks all rely on precision timing for synchronization.

Wireless telephone and data networks rely on GPS timing, companies worldwide use GPS to time-stamp business transactions to ensure accuracy and traceability.

Power companies rely on this timing signal for power transmission and distribution.

The list goes on. In short, space capabilities and the continued access to a safe, stable, and secure space domain is a vital U.S. interest.

That is why collaboration and cooperation between all space stakeholders is essential.

The Space Force is committed to enhancing its partnerships with the commercial space industry, our allies, and other international partners.

Today, though we find ourselves in the midst of a Great Power Competition with our adversaries that extends from the traditional terrestrial war fighting domains into space itself.

As Russia has reminded us, war can return quickly, and in unexpected ways.

Cooperation among industry leaders and allies has proven particularly effective in challenging Russia’s efforts in Ukraine.

And throughout our nation’s history, military success has hinged on support from commercial industry.

During the Spanish American War in 1898, the U.S. Navy relied heavily on commercial coaling stations to support its naval operations.

The war, fought in both the Caribbean and the Pacific, proved naval power to be decisive, allowing expeditionary forces to disembark at desired locations unconstrained by distance.

These “refueling stations” in Singapore, Hong Kong, Honolulu, Manilla – which were run by the Pacific Mail Steamship Company, the American-Hawaiian Steamship Company, and the Oceanic Steamship Company – were vital to replenishing coal supplies during the war, enabling our naval ships to extend their range and remain operational for extended periods.

And over the past 2 decades, the demand for military satellite communication bandwidth increased dramatically due to the heavy reliance on bandwidth-intensive operations… operations like aerial vehicle feeds-unmanned aerial vehicle feeds.

To offset this demand, the Air Force partnered with Inmarsat and Intelsat to meet the rising operational demand.

Now these two historical examples highlight the spectrum of commercial connections to military operations.

So whereas the SATCOM example shows how commercial capabilities can add extra capacity when needed, the coaling stations represent a more complete integration into military operations.

The Navy’s operational infrastructure at that time was not complete without the commercial services completely incorporated.

In space operations we have become more comfortable with using commercial capabilities to add capacity than we have with fully integrated commercial capabilities into our force design.
It is this basic thought that led to the US Space Force’s Commercial Space Strategy.

Now, first I want to set some expectations for this document, released today in fact.

If you read the strategy expecting to see answers to the most challenging problems of commercial integration, you will be disappointed.

If you are expecting the document to outline how much money is available for us to dole out for each mission area, you will be disappointed.

But, if you understand that effective integration will only come about with a common understanding of our priorities, the missions where we need help, our proposal evaluation criteria, and clear definitions of terms to enhance that collaboration…I think you will find the document useful.

Useful as a tool to drive process change, to shift our mindset and useful to see the Space Force’s relationship with industry in a new light.

As Secretary of Defense Austin stated in OSD’s Commercial Space Integration Strategy, “Integrating commercial solutions, as opposed to merely augmenting existing government systems, will require a shift in approach within the Department.”

The Space Force’s Commercial Space Strategy is dual signed by myself and the Service Acquisition Executive, the honorable Frank Calvelli, because this is a partnership between the acquisitions community and the broader operational Space Force.

Together, we are going to ensure we are optimizing resiliency and capability by balancing the decisions necessary to shift our approach.

The Space Force Commercial Space Strategy follows OSD’s 4 guiding principles for effective commercial integration:

First, Balance – We will appropriately balance government and commercial solutions.

Number two is Interoperability – We will strengthen interoperability between government and commercial solutions without stifling commercial sector innovation, speed, or scale.

Third is Resilience – We will strengthen resilience by increasing the number of commercial providers, diversifying supply chains, and expanding the variety and number of solutions used.
And four, Responsible Conduct – We will continue to support international norms and the DoD Tenets of Responsible Behavior in Space.

And these guiding principles will assist decision-makers as they work through the myriad of activities needed to put together the force design. A force design which effectively accounts for and integrates commercial offerings.

The Space Force Commercial Space Strategy will be implemented across 4 Lines of Effort.

The first Line of Effort we call Collaborative Transparency.

All stakeholders must be aware of the capabilities and limitations of their partners if we are to work together to solve our operational challenges.

By building partnerships, collaborating with the commercial sector, the Space Force will enhance its competitive advantage by developing a comprehensive understanding of the commercial sector’s innovative culture, short…shorter development timelines, and a burgeoning array of commercial space solutions to the greatest extent possible.

Simplify that to say if industry doesn’t understand our challenges, they cannot contribute and if we do not understand what industry can bring to bear, we miss opportunities.

The second Line of Effort is Operational and Technical Integration.

In this line of effort, we will work the details of integrating commercial space solutions into a hybrid space architecture.

This line of effort includes developing the policies, processes, technical standards, procedures that allow the commercial sector to integrate data and hardware with the Space Force… and it will require unity of effort between the Space Force and the Joint Force when conducting missions involving employment of hybrid architectures.

In this portion of the strategy, we describe and prioritize the mission areas where we see the best opportunity for industry to assist the Space Force.

The third line of effort is Risk Management.

The integration of commercial space solutions into the Space Force architecture is not without risk.

Being a part of a hybrid space architecture means being a part of a mission from competition through crisis and conflict.

Ensuring that our architectures can meet the demands of each of these conditions will be essential to effective performance.

The Space Force will work to ensure that all stakeholders understand risks and receive actionable, timely data to aid in risk mitigation. But this must be a collective effort by all partners.
The fourth and final line of effort is about Securing the Future.

In this line of effort, the Space Force will continue to seek out emerging technologies in the commercial space sector that have the potential to support the Joint and Combined Force today and in the future.

The Space Force will prioritize our Science and Technology efforts that are tailored to the operational environment and optimized for fielding capabilities on operationally relevant timelines.

We must continuously assess the future operating environment.
What missions will need to perform, what threats will we face, and what technologies can we bring to bear to meet our operational challenges?

We know we will need substantial support from the space industry to answer these vital questions.

Now as we work these lines of effort, we will have to make tough choices about where to place our precious resources.

As we all understand, there is never enough money to go around so we will prioritize and scrutinize our investments.

We are in an era of constrained resources, and we are going to have to make trades between what we buy and what we build.

Therefore, we are challenging the team to identify how best to optimize our resources as we work to deliver space capabilities needed by the Joint Force.

To help industry understand our thinking, the Commercial Space Strategy outlines four broad assessment criteria that will used to evaluate proposals.

The first is Operational Utility.

This is the ability for a capability to satisfy a needed requirement for Space Force operations in support of a joint or combined campaign.

We are not just buying things because we can – we will be contracting for capabilities that directly enable us to satisfy Service or Joint requirements and are clearly traceable to those requirements.

The second principle is Feasibility, and this refers to the cost to acquire and exploit the capability at sufficient value and at a cost that the Space Force is prepared to resource. For example, evaluating the feasibility of purchasing time on a commercial ground architecture for Telemetry, Tracking, and Commanding versus buying new antennas for the Satellite Control Network or evaluating the feasibility of on-orbit refueling or servicing operations for Space Force missions.

Our third criteria, Resilience by Design, centers around the capability’s ability to contribute to resilience and secure an enduring competitive advantage.

Commercial space capabilities enhance our capacity and resiliency but only if they contribute to defense in-depth.

If commercial capabilities place a “protect and defend” tax on the Space Force they may not be as valuable as those that are able to protect themselves or operate effectively under contested circumstances.

Proliferated architectures, disaggregated missions, and cyber defense capabilities help to increase our resilience and decrease the risk to the Joint Force.

And the final assessment criteria is Speed to Fielding.

Time matters because we are running out of it.

The timeline from concept to operational capability will be important.

We don’t have the luxury of waiting years for programs to deliver – the speed of need is right now, and we will evaluate commercial capabilities not just on their level of innovation and capability but also on the timeline to get it to the field and available for use by the Joint Force.

We believe that understanding the guiding principles, our lines of effort, and the criteria we will use to assess proposals will help our industry partners better understand our needs and how best to meet them.
Now as I said at the outset, the Commercial Space Strategy is not a panacea…it does not provide all the answers.

But I do think it frames the discussion that must take place, it sets the conditions for productive collaboration, and it starts the critical processes needed to accelerate the Purposeful Pursuit of Hybrid Space Architectures.

For those partners interested in helping us fortify our capabilities, a great place to start is with our Commercial Space Office and the Space Force’s Front Door.
Drop by their booths this week.

And I am looking forward to your feedback and working closely with all of you in this critical endeavor. We need it now and we need it to secure our future.

Now speaking of our future…if you will permit me to shift gears. I’d like to finish up this morning by talking about my favorite subject…Guardians.

Another way we are ensuring our future success is by tapping into the talent and innovation of our number one resource, our Guardians.

In fact, as part of our commitment to innovation and skills development, the Space Force recently hosted the second annual Guardian Field Forum.

And once again, it was an amazing and productive event.

The forum brought together a diverse group of relatively junior people, including Officers, Enlisted, and Civilians, to share innovative ideas with the Senior Leaders about training, acquisitions, and operations.

We’re still working through the many recommendations from this year’s event… but I can tell you that last year, this forum yielded a variety of innovative recommendations currently being implemented, to include increasing our training pipeline capacity, outlining better collaboration between analysts and defenders in the Space Force and in US Cyber Command, and the assignment and utilization of Supra Coders.

I often say that innovation is a key component of what sets our Guardians apart, and this year’s Guardian Field Forum was another great demonstration of that. Our Guardians never cease to inspire and impress me.

As I finish up, I am reminded of the quote from Neil deGrasse Tyson.

He says, “With only rare exceptions, history shows that while strategy and bravery can win a battle, the frontiers of science and technology must be exploited to win a war.”

With China and Russia now challenging our Space Superiority at levels never before seen in the domain, the frontiers of science and technology – the innovation that can be found in the commercial space sector, innovation that will be talked about in these halls – will be crucial to our success.

At the Guardian Field Forum, our junior Guardians demonstrated to me that they understand we need to do things differently, and they showed me that they are interested in rolling up their sleeves to do the hard work.

I think we all understand that the process needed to completely ready ourselves to meet the challenges we face is extensive and requires all hands-on deck.

The Commercial Space Strategy is intended to help start that process.

This strategy acknowledges that old ways of doing business will not produce the results we need.

The Space Force must harness the benefits of technological innovation and emerging capabilities if we are going to be able to outcompete our competitors – or the Space Force will lose…the Joint Force will lose…and the U.S. will lose!

Thank you again to the Space Foundation for allowing me to come out today and spend some time with you talking about our new Commercial Space Strategy.

My hope is that today’s conversation adds to the collective spirit of this event in the same way the words of Generals Chilton and Raymond, Admiral Papparo, and Secretary Bob Work, did over the past three decades.

I look forward to continuing to partner with each and every one of you… To Secure our Nation’s Interests In, From, and To Space!

Thank you, and Semper Supra!