President and CEO
Boeing Integrated Defense Systems
"Integrated Battlespace -- & The Self-Synchronizing Soldier"
US Army War College
Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania
October 31, 2002
It is a great privilege to be here. There's a saying at West Point, "Much of the history we teach ... was made by people we taught." Certainly, the same may be said of the Army War College.
The US Army has a long and glorious tradition of growing great leaders, and the War College is part of that tradition. If there is a secret here, it is the extraordinary investment that the Army has made in the development of people both as thinkers and as leaders.
The Army War College stands at the very top of the food chain. It is the most advanced and prestigious institution of its kind. The College has reached out to other services and other nations in carrying out its mission -- to prepare a select group of leaders for the responsibilities of strategic leadership.
Great things are expected of you students. Soon it will be your turn to take up the burden of high command. There is at least one thing you do not have to worry about. You won't face a lack of serious challenges on your watch. In the often-quoted words of the ancient Chinese curse, you are destined to live in interesting times.
A decade has passed since the collapse of the Soviet empire. I think we can all agree on a couple of lessons learned.
One is that the end of the Cold War has not meant the end of conflict ... or the end of history. The hard fact of the matter is, most people feel less safe ... less secure ... today than they did through most of the Cold War. We trusted the old enemy not to use weapons of mass destruction. We know our new enemies will not hesitate to do so if they get the chance.
The recent past has also reaffirmed the truth of an old maxim: Victory depends upon "the lone soldier standing on one square yard of earth." Our common objective -- yours and mine -- is to enable the lone soldier to succeed.
As General Shinseki and other proponents of Transformation have clearly recognized, Transformation is a many-sided phenomenon.
It is a byword for sweeping change ... not just on the battlefield and in the barracks, but also in the laboratories and factories where new weapon systems are designed and built. In Transformation, there is great potential for compressing development times, lowering cost and multiplying effectiveness.
Before delving into such weighty matters, it may help to give you a little background of a personal and professional nature.
First of all, I have never been shot at. And I have never asked an employee to give me anything more than a job well done. I am not a war fighter.
My degree was in Civil Engineering. I grew up wanting to build dams.
After I graduated, I found that all of the good dam sites around the world were already taken. So I got into rocket science instead.
Turns out rocket science and building dams have a lot in common. Both are about flow and stress, but instead of fluid flows in dams, you have gas flows in rocket engines. The same goes for another area of development that we're working on at Boeing these days -- directed energy -- high-energy lasers and high-powered microwaves. Now instead of fluid and gas flows, you have the flow of photons and electromagnetic pulses. The potential applications in this area are pretty amazing.
Now, as enthusiastic as I am about technology, I also recognize that technology is an enabler. If no one sees the possibilities it creates ... if no one is prepared to act differently ... there is no progress. There were primitive cultures, for instance, which invented the wheel on their own, but limited its use to playthings. They did not take the technology a step further and design carts and wagons.
I wonder whether we -- in our own time -- are not at a similar stage of development... or non-development... when it comes to taking full advantage of information technology.
If you compare Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan with Operation Desert Storm in the Persian Gulf, it is clear that we have made some great strides. Sensor-to-shooter times have been reduced from many minutes or even hours to as little as a 100 seconds in some best-case scenarios. But compare that with one of the changes in the commercial world.
Not too long ago, when you pulled out your Visa card to pay for some piece of merchandise, the merchant would stamp your card in a clunky-looking machine, called an imprinter, which would produce a little slip of paper in triplicate copies. The merchant would collect his copies and send them off to his bank. The bank would send them to a clearinghouse. You would wait for several minutes while the merchant made a phone call to check your creditworthiness, and he would wait for days, or even a week, for his bank account to be credited with your payment.
Now, if you swipe your card in a store somewhere in Australia, it sends whizzing bits of information on a 24,000-mile roundtrip journey. Not only does this clear the transaction, but it charges the merchant a fee and it divvies that fee up among several different banks. Total elapsed time: two seconds.
Visa does this 4,000 times a second. It has 800 million cardholders, 27 million merchants and 21,000 member banks. The Visa system has suffered a grand total of eight minutes total downturn in the past five years.
There is a critical difference between swiping a plastic card and striking an enemy. No one dies as a result of the misuse of a credit card. There continues to be a need for a human being in the loop to distinguish friend from foe in the military arena.
Nevertheless, it seems to me that we have barely scratched the surface of arming the war fighter with superior information ... through a network-centric approach to managing assets. But not everyone is completely sold on the idea.
I have an old high school friend who is now an officer in our Armed Services. He has led troops into combat many times. When we talk about technology and how it will help the war fighter, he is skeptical. Information technology won't do a whole lot, my friend says. In his view, it's all about people -- training, disciplining, leading and motivating people.
Now the truth, I believe, lies in between. You can believe, as I do, in the power of space-based information networks to multiply the effectiveness of a wide array of platforms. But at the end of the day, it really does come down to people ... to their willingness to change and adapt.
It is hard for big organizations -- be they military or corporate -- to embrace change. Mass -- we know from physics -- is the measure of inertia. Not that we wish to remain stationary. Rather, as the writer Warren Bennis put it, "We all see and understand the need for change, and instinctively avoid it at all costs."
I love the Army's concept of "the self-synchronizing soldier," which may be another way of saying "an army of one." Both of those phrases are similar to the "empowered worker" in corporate-speak. But they add an extra dimension -- the idea of situational awareness. Ideally, this should not only maximize the power of the individual, but it should also create an all-encompassing architecture in which everyone is able to benefit from the independent actions of thousands of others.
If I may draw an analogy, think of one of the wonderful commonplaces of nature, which is now a topic of considerable interest in theoretical physics. We are coming to the end of fall -- the migratory season for millions of birds. You see them perched in large numbers on a treetop. A single bird takes off, and hundreds of others abruptly follow. No bird wants to be left behind; and no bird wants to collide with another. After a moment of seeming pandemonium, they wheel about as though they had been transformed into a single organism. Due to a balancing out of aerodynamic forces, a flock of birds is able to turn faster as a unit than their individual reaction times would permit. It's a beautiful sight to behold.
It has taken millions of years of evolution for our feathered friends to achieve near-perfect situational awareness within a networked system. Can we achieve something like that in the space of a few years -- through the combination of technology and a willingness to embrace change?
I think we can -- and must. More importantly, that is the clearly articulated vision of the senior leadership of our Armed Forces. This is how Secretary Rumsfeld put it, and I quote:
"We must change not only the capabilities at our disposal, but also how we think about war. Imagine for a moment that you could give a knight in King Arthur's court an M-16. If he takes that weapon, gets back on his horse, and uses the stock to knock in his opponent's head, that is not transformation. Transformation occurs when he does something completely different. All the high-tech weapons in the world won't transform the US armed forces unless we also transform the way we think, train, exercise, and fight."
I would only add that it is not just the armed forces that must transform. It is also all of us in the defense industry. Let me tell you about how we have embraced change at Boeing.
When most people think of Boeing, they think commercial airplanes. That made sense ten years ago -- when commercial airplanes accounted for more nearly all of the company's revenues. However, our revenues from defense will actually exceed our revenues from commercial airplanes in 2003.
We are in the middle of a severe downturn in the commercial airplane market. But we also have very big and extremely healthy defense business. Boeing will do more than $25 billion in revenues in this business in 2002.
This balance did not come about by accident. Upon becoming CEO of Boeing in 1996, Phil Condit set a goal of achieving leadership in all three of the principal markets -- commercial airplanes, defense and space. As Boeing was already the leader in commercial airplanes, that led to a series of mergers and acquisitions of defense and space businesses.
Up until very recently, we were organized to address each of those markets separately -- with a commercial airplane business based in Seattle, a military aircraft and missiles business based in St. Louis, and a space and communications business based in Seal Beach, California.
On July 10th of this year, we changed that structure. We melded our military aircraft and missiles business and our space and communications business into a single organization -- Boeing Integrated Defense Systems. In doing so, we merged a business with a lot of great platforms -- fighter aircraft, bombers, transport aircraft, helicopters, and missiles -- with another business that contains a wealth of expertise in how to integrate very complex, large-scale systems -- everything from Space Station to missile defense. Our goal is to tie everything together -- beginning with the way we are organized . . . because the way we are organized affects the way we think, the way we behave, and the way we interact with you -- the customer.
As the leader of this organization, I see Boeing Integrated Defense Systems not as one big division, but as a virtual organization that combines consistency of approach with a great deal of flexibility and creativity. We are striving for our own version the self-synchronizing individual and the organization of one.
One clear objective on our side is to provide greatly improved interoperability in the products and services that we provide to the military customer. But there's more to it than that.
Imagine a network-centric world where space-based sensors and communication systems allow us to know with precision where everything is on earth and in the air in relation to each other. Where the individual has true situational awareness of everything that's around him or her. Where, in real time, we collect and share data ... turn that data into information ... and turn the information into knowledge to aid decision making.
This kind of all-encompassing connectivity has huge potential applications in many areas. It can apply
- to the battlespace of the future,
- to air or commuter traffic management,
- to inventory tracking,
- to almost any complex system you can imagine.
I mentioned the possibility of a space-based air traffic system. Boeing is very much in the lead in pushing for that. We know that such a system could provide dramatic benefits -- in safety, security, efficiency, and capacity.
But defense, I believe, offers the greatest near-term and long-term potential for space-based, network-centric solutions.
Take affordability. As we all know, this is a key metric. In the past, we put enormous resources and intelligence into each new generation of platform -- whether airplane, tank, or ship. In the future, we can realize tremendous cost saving by putting more of the intelligence at a higher level -- in the network that ties all of the individual platforms together and connects with the war fighter.
We already have seen some spectacular early examples of how a network-centric approach can breathe new life into old platforms, and do so in a highly affordable way. This year marked the 50th anniversary of the first flight of B-52. Developed by Boeing as an intercontinental bomber with nuclear strike capability, this aircraft has been transformed into a GPS-aided precision bomber -- called in by soldiers equipped with laser range-finders to strike against enemy forces hiding in caves or on the sides of mountains. Who would have thought that the B-52 could be used for close-air support! That's thanks to being able to plug and play an old platform in an expanded system utilizing space-based surveillance and communication.
We also have seen great results from the use of new untested products -- like the unmanned aerial vehicles deployed in Afghanistan. Interesting and exciting in their own right, unmanned vehicles have the potential to become a real game-changer in the context of integrated battlespace.
For many reasons, capability requirements in the defense arena tend to be extremely exacting. To go back to the credit card company, the Visa system relies on powerful computers and globe-circling fiber optics. Putting the two together is not too difficult.
Contrast that with the complexities of intercepting a missile in space -- and potentially saving the lives of millions of people. In five out of seven flight tests, Boeing has shown that it is possible to "hit a bullet with a bullet" in space. Later on, I would be happy to explain in more detail how that works. Suffice it to say here: We have integrated existing space and ground assets to provide a capability that no single system could provide on its own. This is true "systems of systems" work.
Our ability to provide integrated solutions ... to complex problems ... has been our ace in the hole in winning critical futuristic competitions.
A few years ago, when I was President and CEO of Boeing Space and Communication, I put a handful of competitions oriented toward Transformation on the top of our "must-win" list. They included
- Future Combat Systems for the Army
- Joint Tactical Radio Systems, a revolutionary communications system that will be the foundation for all future tactical radios
- FAB-T, or the first increment of wideband satellite communication terminals known as the Family of Advanced Beyond Line-of-Sight Terminals
Back then, if you told me that Boeing would make a clean sweep in winning all three programs, I would not have believed it. But I do know that each of those transformational programs plays to two of the principal strengths -- or core competencies -- of this company. One is detailed customer knowledge and focus, and the other is large-scale systems integration.
For us, those two competencies are opposite sides of the same coin in today's fast-changing defense environment. To really know the military customer, you must be joined with him in shaping the future. And that is only possible if you have the expertise and knowledge needed for the design of large systems, with common architectures.
As Lead Systems Integrator, the Boeing/SAIC team will act as an honest broker in important procurement decisions. In every case, we will help the Army define the requirement ... and then we will put together the best in industry to meet the requirement.
In closing, I would like to thank the Army for choosing us as its partner in shaping the future. And I would like to personally thank the Army War College. For me, to come to Carlisle Barracks ... to put my "boots on the ground" on what is truly hallowed ground for the US Army ... and to address all of you who have been chosen as the next generation of leaders ... well, all of that is pretty special.
Through the combination of great strategic leadership and a network-centric approach to war fighting, there is much that we can do to help the lone soldier secure that "one square yard of earth" -- wherever it may be -- and to get him (or her) back home again, without injury or loss of life.
I look forward to working directly with many of you in years to come. The first FCS brigade will be fielded in 2008. There is no doubt in my mind that it is going to be sensational.