Acting Under Secretary of the Air Force Dr. Jamie Morin addressed more than 320 Airmen, industry officials and Air Force Association members at AFA’s Global Warfare Symposium in Los Angeles, Calif., Nov. 15.
Morin opened the symposium with a discussion on space superiority as an enduring source of American strength.
“Space is a fundamental pillar of (America’s) military and our economic might. It’s an enduring source of American strength and American advantage,” Morin said. “Through space superiority, our Air Force can continue to provide the nation with the global reach, global vigilance and the global power that the nation’s come to rely on.”
During his remarks, Morin addressed the work the Air Force is currently performing in space, key challenges and some of the ways the Air Force and industry partners can help meet those critical challenges.
“The technological and the organizational advances are frankly amazing. But the advances of today stand on the shoulders of innovative pioneers who laid the ground work,” he said, lauding the efforts of Hap Arnold, who commissioned a study during World War II to look at advances in technology and where it would take American airpower in the decades to follow.
“That study came out in 1945 with a clear finding – the satellite is a definite possibility,” Morin said. “And the pendulum of progress swung and by 1992, we were ready to stand up our own Air Force Space Command to put that organizational focus on the space business.”
Now in its 30th year, Air Force Space Command saw a drastic change in mission at the onset of Operations Desert Storm and Desert Shield. It was then that the Air Force realized space could do more than serve in purely strategic roles, but could be a vital enabler for tactical capability.
“That shift from purely strategic to both strategic and tactical roles for space changed fundamentally how this nation fights war,” the under secretary said. “Today, we have a space force that maintains mature and integrated systems that can provide effects down to the individual tactical user level every day.
“All those leaps in space capability are fundamentally enabled by innovative airmen and our industry partners. Our innovative airmen are the core of our capability,” Morin said.
But it’s a capability that requires aggressive maintenance.
The barriers of access to space have dropped dramatically, Morin said, describing space and the space environment as congested, contested and competitive – where other nations are advancing technology to individually reach space on their own.
“Your Air Force is actively pursuing multiple avenues that will allow us to maintain resilient systems, and an architecture that accomplishes mission but also at every step with a keen eye towards affordability,” the under secretary said.
This includes aggressive modernization efforts to meet war fighter needs, which is why space investment makes up 20 percent of the Air Force investment budget.
“It is a critical time for space and it’s a critical time for those capabilities upon which the nation relies,” Morin said. “Those space capabilities are things that not only the Department of Defense, joint team and the rest of government relies on, but things the whole civilian economy and the population of the country and the world rely on.”
Despite the challenges ahead, Morin said he considers the future very promising, thanks to the strong partnership with industry and international allies.
“We’re leveraging each other’s space-based capabilities, communication, situational awareness. And we keep looking for new ways to do that and are finding great opportunities,” he said.
But more importantly, the future is bright because of airmen.
“Those are folks who are dedicated and excited to find the right solutions for the warfighter, find the right solutions for the taxpayer, find the right solutions for the nation,” he said, adding a sincere thank you to all the Airmen in the audience and the 42,000 space professionals of AFSPC. “You are truly the key to our continued advantage in space that America is relying on because we are an Air Force that is driven by airmen and powered by innovation.”