2001 Speeches
Jim Albaugh

Jim Albaugh


Space and Communications

"Looking to the Future"

Fourth Annual Space & Missile Defense Conference

Huntsville, Alabama

August 23, 2001

Good morning.

First, I'd like to thank General Cusumano, Mr. Granonee and Mr. Williams for inviting me to be here today. You have, once again, put together a really terrific and thought-provoking program. I'm pleased to be a part of it.

Over the last two days, you've heard from many distinguished people, discussing the various aspects of a very complex subject.

I've been asked to give you an industry perspective of the future of missile defense.

Talking about the future, of course, has its perils, because any view I might provide would be completely subjective, and probably wrong

You've all heard, ad nauseam, long lists of predictions that didn't come true. And we've all experienced things that were never predicated at all. Perceiving the future can be particularly difficult, especially when we deal with issues that are driven as much by politics as by technology.

In that regard, predicting the future of missile defense is a real challenge, since the current political debate entails the fundamental question: "Just because we have the ability to build a defensive missile system, does that mean it's a good idea to do so?"

For the most part Boeing and the rest of industry must leave the issues of policy and geopolitics to the government and fair-minded policy makers. They will decide whether the United States and the world will be less -- or more -- safe as a result of missile defense.

On a personal note, however, I have a clear and unequivocal belief in the necessity for a strong national missile defense, and from a professional standpoint I'm proud that Boeing is the prime contractor for a system that will help make that possible.

Before jumping to the future, however, I think it's important to review the threat and the mission we are addressing.

Then we can look at the future -- both the possibilities and the challenges of missile defense.

As with any defense-related program, there must be credible, threat-driven requirements. From my perspective, those requirements were clearly outlined in 1998 by the Rumsfeld Commission Report. That report concluded that countries like North Korea or Iraq could threaten the United States in the near term, as could many others in the longer term. In short, the threat of ballistic missile attack to the United States is real.

In response to this and other concerns, Congress gave the DoD a mission. In the National Missile Defense Act of 1999, Congress stated that U.S. policy is to "deploy... as soon as technologically possible... a National Missile Defense system capable of defending U.S. territory against limited ballistic missile attack." That bill was signed into law on July 22, 1999.

Now talking about potential "threats" to our nation is a very difficult thing for some people. There are always those who will say that the threats are exaggerated. However, a look back in our history shows other times when threats were discounted, unanticipated, or simply unimaginable.

I just got done reading a book about the burning of Washington, DC in 1814. It describes how the British marched on the city, almost completely unopposed. They burned our Capitol and they burned the White House.

The attack on Pearl Harbor similarly stunned the nation. And asymmetrical threats, such as the bombing of the World Trade Center, have shown that the United States is not immune from terrorist attack.

Unanticipated threats that many thought could never happen, did happen, with devastating consequences.

I share these examples because before we look at the future, we must clearly understand the past. We need to be reminded of how we started this journey towards a strategic missile defense.

It started with recognition of a credible threat and direction to address that threat -- by Congress. These facts are sometimes lost in the rhetorical debate currently surrounding missile defense.

So what does the future hold?

First, this is a large, nationally visible program. That visibility has helped to elevate - for many - the urgent need for a system to protect our nation, our assets and our allies.

With increased understanding of that threat has come a willingness by the administration to allocate the resources needed to create a missile defense system. In a tight budget year, the Administration has recommended a 57-percent increase in missile defense spending over 2001 levels.

Whether or not this amount is eventually appropriated is uncertain -- and is the focus of a cottage industry of lobbyists and special interest groups in Washington, DC -- but the emphasis and priority within the Administration cannot be denied.

The same spotlight that has helped to create recognition of the need for added resources... has also generated the kind of debate that puts all aspects of missile defense under a microscope. This is a program that invites heat and rhetoric on all sides.

It is a program that does not know the meaning of "routine test."

Each test comes under immense scrutiny. On the NMD program, our recent test, IFT-6, was a great success made possible by the hard work of many, many people. I can tell you I was really proud watching a live feed of the intercept with program management officials at Anaheim. You couldn't contain the excitement in that room.

Yet the banner headline the following Monday in the Los Angeles Times was not . . . "Missile System Hits Target," but, rather. . . "Missile System Fails to Determine it Hit Target!"

You know, every time we conduct a test of this system it's a little bit like having the entire world watch while you take your SAT exam. You may answer all of the really tough questions perfectly, but when the results are tallied, what everyone will remember is that you couldn't define the word, "bucolic."

And we need to get used to it.

In all seriousness, however, we have to develop a thicker skin when it comes to conducting these tests. As General Kadish reminds us, and the media, and Congress: IFT-6 was simply the latest in a series of many tests that will take place over the next few years.

With that in mind, as I think about the future of missile defense, it occurs to me that what lies ahead are some recognizable stages. Just as there are some well-known. . . and predictable stages that most people pass through in experiencing grief: Things like denial, anger, depression, and acceptance.

I think we're going to go through several stages in the future of missile defense. People will tell us:

We are going to have to work through these phases as they come along. And they will. These are all issues that will be publicly debated as our nation decides the wisdom of this program.

So, clearly, the future will continue to be characterized by intense scrutiny and heightened expectations.

The good news is that we have some of the country's best scientists and engineers working on missile defense -- a team that is the "best of the best" in many ways. . . And I have every confidence that we can -- and will --meet the requirements for a missile defense system for today and for the future.

So, what are the challenges we face going forward?

First, for years we have talked about the emergence of what we call Systems-of-Systems. That is, taking disparate systems that weren't designed to work together and using battle management command, control and communications (BMC3) to make them speak as one voice... and to provide more value as an integrated systems than they could alone.

With missile defense we have an opportunity to field just such a complex system. We're doing that on the Ground-based Mid-Course Segment. We're doing it on ABL. We're going to do it on SBL. We're doing it on various terminal phase programs like THAAD and PAC-3.

Ultimately, of course, all these Systems of Systems will be required to work together in a Family of Systems and to be flexible enough for the addition of new and maturing technologies, such as directed-energy.

Next, also important to the future of missile defense will be continued industry cooperation and teaming. It is no longer feasible for a single company to design and develop these large-scale systems. No one contractor can possess the range of technical know-how necessary.

It truly requires the best domain expertise for each and every element. Teaming and alliances will be a key to our success.

Also, based on what has been said by the Administration, we will eventually be faced with how to make this system not only national, but also regional and global. This will require the involvement of nations and partners from around the world.

Now, when I can't even get an export license for Australia, one wonders how we're ever going to make this thing international. I hope someone in the Administration is thinking hard about this issue right now.

The conference organizers stressed that they wanted speakers to take a look at least 10 years down the road. I believe that there are two possibilities for us in the year 2011-

In the final analysis, industry's challenges on missile defense are clear---

First, it will require impeccable technical performance. This is really difficult stuff. It's not like Corona, where they had 12 chances to get it right. Or the Atlas program, which had half-a-dozen failures on the pad. Or any number of other programs we can think of.

On Missile Defense, we've got to do it right the first time. The key here is to do what we say we will do. Under the intense scrutiny of the world spotlight it becomes critical that we make commitments we can meet... and then meet those commitments.

Second, it will require teaming. No one contractor or country can do this program alone. It will require us to integrate across companies, cultures and continents.

Third, it will require leadership on the part of the government. We must be able to work not only with our long-term allies, but with those who have emerged since the end of the Cold War.

And we must address the export issues I mentioned.

I began this talk today by remarking how hard it is to accurately predict the future. This is especially true today, when we may not know every particular about what the future missile defense architecture will look like... or all the specifics about how to bring about the kind of international cooperation such a system will require... or even, what new, previously unexpected threats may emerge as we move forward.

At the very least, however, I think we can all agree that, if we play our cards right in the areas I've highlighted, the future of missile defense can be a bright one, as can the future security of the United States and our allies.

Thank you.