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2003 Speeches
Jim Albaugh

Jim Albaugh

President

CEO

Boeing Integrated Defense Systems

"Missile Defense: Doable, Affordable, Critical"

Missile Defense Conference

Washington, D. C.

March 06, 2003

It's an honor and a pleasure to be here, but also a bit of a challenge, to address you on the last day of this important conference. I am reminded of the minister who gave an invocation asking the King to grant a variety of gifts to a long list of speakers. He asked the King to give inspiration to the first speaker, wisdom to the second, compassion to the third, and so on down the line until he came to tenth speaker. The minister then paused and said with sigh, "This is our last speaker, my Lord, and I ask you to have mercy on him."

As you know very well, we are living in an age of extraordinary uncertainty and unpredictability. Even still, I was struck by something that Defense Secretary Rumsfeld said recently. We are living, he said, in what may be "the most dangerous security environment that the world has ever known."

That is a chilling observation.

If he is right - and I believe he is - the civilized world may be under greater threat today than it was -

. . . In the late 1930s when Hitler sent his armies racing across Europe.

. . . or during the Cuban missile crisis in 1962, when the world was faced with the possibility of an all-out nuclear exchange.

That begins to describe the historic magnitude of today's threat environment. The world is in flux and we face not one but many deadly threats. It is almost enough (maybe it is enough) to make one want to go back to the Cold War.

Except for a few very tense days during the Cuban Missile crisis, we trusted our old enemy not to use weapons of mass destruction. We know our new enemies will not hesitate to use them if given the chance.

We must deny them that chance.

The shift from a reactive to a pre-emptive defense strategy underscores and reaffirms another shift in our thinking. We have moved from an emphasis on well-defined requirements to deter or defeat a known enemy to an emphasis on developing the capabilities to counteract both known and unknown threats.

It involves the development of complex large-scale Systems and a network-centric approach to warfare and homeland security that multiplies the value and effectiveness of all of our defense assets.

How and where does Missile Defense fit within the overall picture?

To my mind, there are three simple facts about Missile Defense that call for our attention.

Number one - Missile Defense is not the whole answer. We should never pretend otherwise.

Number two - Missile Defense is a necessary and critical part of a prudent defense strategy.

And Number Three - There will be ongoing spirited debate on this subject.

There are few subjects that are more complex than Missile Defense. And none more easily misunderstood and distorted.

No one appreciates the difficulty here any more than General Kadish. As he has said, one of the most important reasons for having this conference - gathering together more than 800 people from industry, government and the services - is to raise our awareness of the issues and to enhance our ability to communicate.

While I am a big believer in technology, I recognize that the future of Missile Defense depends upon Communications no less than it does upon Technology and Execution.

Why is it so hard to better inform people on the subject of Missile Defense? I think of the old story about two prisoners who have been cellmates for so long that they decide to catalogue and number all of their jokes. If they want to have a good laugh, they no longer tell a joke; they just say a number.

That is exactly the kind of thing that we are up against in the Missile Defense arena. Our critics see no need for mounting any sort of sophisticated argument against it. They just say "Star Wars" and begin laughing. Or, they roll their eyes and pick another expression from the catalogue. They say: "too expensive" . . . "destabilizing" . . . "the bomb in the suitcase" . . . and (the all-time favorite) "won't work."

Let me tell you what my views are, on each of those arguments the moment they are launched.

First, if someone mentions the movie, I say, how can you compare a clear and present danger to a fictional adventure film? Don't you know that North Korea may already have ballistic missiles; capable of hitting the very city where that movie was made . . . Don't you know that there are 16 nations out there with some level of ballistic missile capability?

Second, I say, don't tell me its "too expensive." What is the cost of reconstructing lower Manhattan? Expense is relative. That said, as hugely important as it is, Missile Defense accounts for less than 2% of the U.S. defense budget.

Third, I say, don't tell me it's "destabilizing" when simple logic tells a completely different story. If you take away a potential enemy's ability to use his missiles to strike against your cities, haven't you reduced the value to him of those same missiles? Of course you have. You have done something that will cause him (and others) to give up building more missiles.

Further, I say, don't tell me there is no point in putting up a Missile Defense because we cannot defend ourselves against "the bomb in the suitcase." That's like saying you don't want to quit smoking because you think you might be run over by a truck.

In fact, our Government is going to a great deal of trouble and expense to guard against the threat of bombs in suitcases. Anyone who travels by air is well aware of that. One threat does not negate another. We must defend ourselves across the board. And oh, by the way, if you see a hostile and impoverished country that is spending billions of dollars to develop both nuclear weapons and the missiles to deliver them . . . . . that is a threat that you had better take very, very seriously.

Lastly, I say, don't tell me it "won't work." Once again, that is nothing more than willful ignorance and distortion of the facts.

One of the cardinal rules of warfare and defense is to take advantage of your strengths and your enemy's weaknesses. Technology is our strength and their weakness. We can and must take advantage of that in the Missile Defense arena.

Over the past three years, we have made great strides in proving that Missile Defense does work. In five out of eight flight tests, the Ground Based Mid Course Missile Defense System has demonstrated that it is possible to "hit a bullet with a bullet" in space. On countless other body-to-body kinetic weapon intercepts we have been successful.

At the same time, we are moving forward on Airborne Laser and we expect to demonstrate the first major increment of that in late 2004. Under the direction of the Missile Defense Agency, the Missile Defense National Team's challenge and objective is to design a layered Ballistic Missile Defense System that will intercept missiles in all phases of their flight - boost, midcourse and terminal.

More than that, the administration has made clear the need to extend this shield to our troops in the field - wherever they are - and to friends and allies. Industry will do these things as directed by the Administration and the MDA.

At its essence, what is Missile Defense? At its essence it the first true integrated System of Systems capability and it has broad and important implications in other areas. It is an example of how we have taken space and ground assets, which were not designed to work together, and integrated them to provide a capability that no single system could provide on their own. It is a graphic demonstration of the power of the network and information sharing.

You've heard a lot of talk about Transformation; you've heard a lot of talk about Network Centric; and you've heard a lot of talk about System of Systems. These concepts at times are difficult to define. Difficult to understand.

So let me point to something in nature, which also happens to be a topic of considerable interest in theoretical physics. It is something we have all witnessed. And it is closely equivalent to the kind of overall situational awareness that we are striving for with a network-centric approach to warfare.

You see an entire flock of birds perched on a single treetop. One 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 confusion, they wheel about as though they have been transformed into a single organism. Due to a balancing of aerodynamic forces, a flock of birds is able to turn faster as a unit than their individual reaction times would permit. It is a beautiful sight to behold.

It has taken millions of years of evolution to achieve this near-perfect situational awareness. The question is, can we achieve something like that in the space of a few years through the combination of technology and a willingness to embrace Transformational changes in the way we think and act.

I believe we must - and shall. The process has already begun.

We have seen it in Afghanistan and we see it today with the Ground Based Midcourse Defense Program, where to a large extent we are using existing systems, what creates the value is the sharing of information and capabilities to provide an integrated system, which is vastly more effective than its component parts. The key to this is the network that facilitates both, global situational awareness and integrated command and control.

Just imagine the same thing on a vastly greater scale. Think of a network centric world where space, airborne and terrestrial sensors and communication systems allow us to know with precision where everything is on the ground and in the air in relationship to each other. That is the meaning of the Integrated Battlespace. It is the provision of near-perfect situation awareness to every soldier and the ability of each soldier to have access to all of the weapons' capability in a theatre. It means: No soldier is ever alone.

In summary - the nation, its deployed forces and its allies need an integrated missile defense system.

Under the leadership of Ron Kadish, we have the architecture, the proven technology and the resources necessary to provide this capability.

This system will devalue ballistic missiles, deter aggression and limit the potential blackmail by states and others dedicated to harming this nation and its allies.

The debate will continue - as it should.

But the fact is that the threat is real - not the product of a Hollywood script.

The intentions of our enemies are clear - no longer, after 9/11, speculated or exaggerated. And our ability to confront the threat is credible - not the result of special effects but the work of talented, hardworking people in industry and government dedicated to protecting this great nation.

As Edward R. Morrow once said, "To be persuasive we must be believable; to be believable we must be credible; to be credible we must be truthful."

In my view, we will ultimately win the debate on missile defense because we are believable, credible and truthful. More importantly however, we will succeed in providing an effective missile defense capability to the United States, its deployed forces and allies. That is our urgent and necessary objective.

General Kadish, thank you for your leadership and partnership.

Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for your time and for your dedication to this important mission.