12. October 2005 · Comments Off on General James Cartwright Speech given at the Closing Dinner of the Strategic Space Symposium – 6 Oct 2005 · Categories: Military

I think the tone has really been set tonight and probably all through the week. We’re here about space, but at the end of the day, we are here about people. And it’s really an honor and privilege to stand here and tell you about the great men and women of Strategic Command, the great men and women of our armed forces.

As a granddad you look at these young men and women and you say, “Where did they come from? How did we do this?” They take whatever you give them, and turn it into something fantastic. They have a sense of pride about a greater whole. Much greater than themselves, and it’s through all of them. It’s not just one or two here or there, the guy that you sneak up to the cameras so he says the right word. You just can grab any one of them, and they just make you so proud, both to be associated with them and that they represent our country and our youth.

They are not limited to the military. We have incredible group of first responders in every one of our cities and states that are just the same way. We have the great honor of having the governor here tonight. Sir, these people, whether they are in military uniforms or are first responders, they make you so proud.

This world that we are living in is changing though. And it is changing at a pace that really confounds the mind. If you go back to, I am just going to use administrations as a way to benchmark, if you go back to when this administration came in, in 2000. We went through, as we always do, strategy review. We were looking at how things were going to change in this world, we might see some big differences in the world, we might have to fight two wars at the same time, or something like that, we should be ready. Look at what has happened since then. When you start to understand the scope of that activity.

9/11, Afghanistan, Iraq.

You look at those kinds of activities, then you step back and you say,

Tsunami, Katrina, Rita.

Then you step again and take another look and you say,

“avian flu” and I don’t know what is next,

but it is not going to give you five or six years to get ready. There is an imperative out there. The people. I had the privilege to bring in this week, most of the leadership associated with Strategic Command, to get them in here amongst you. To let you both experience them and other way around. I don’t know what is after avian flu. But I am damn sure we are not going to have a lot of time to think about it. We’re not going to get time to develop a whole class of weapons, antibiotics, you name it. It is going to have to be ready to go.

It’s going to take the flexibility of people, the decision processes, the organizational skills to adjust on the fly. The great news is that the people we have in our military and in our first responders, the youngsters, the youth of this nation. There is no doubt in my mind that they will be the flexibility that carries us through. But we have got to give them the processes, the decision making, the capabilities to do it, to meet these challenges in a way that we have never been able to do before.

It was really, you never want to say it was nice, but the thought of a bipolar world were us and the Soviet Union was what we really worried about. You look at that list that I just laid out in front of you and the ambiguity of what might be in the future. That is a heck of a challenge to lay on any generation. We really owe it to them to not make them carry some of our baggage. So that is the imperative. What I hope what you heard this week was the idea that change is mandatory. It has got to be a way of life. It is what has driven the organization of Stratcom to significantly different approaches.

There is a parable, an African parable; several of the writers have been using it lately to kind of articulate this. It goes something along the lines that:

In Africa in the morning a gazelle gets up and it knows that in order to survive, it has got to eat. In order to eat, it has got to go out on the plains, and that it is going to have to outrun the lion, and that if it does not outrun the lion it will be the food.

And the lion gets up in the morning and it knows that in order to survive and not starve to death, it has got to run faster than the slowest gazelle. Now, I don’t care if you graze or whether you hunt, whether you are a lion or whether you are a gazelle, in this organization, when you get up in the morning, you had better be ready to run.

That is the incentive that we have got to put in, that’s not optional, that’s essential. It is not a lot different in this business or any other business.

Getting that into a whole generation, getting us, who did not necessarily grown up that way, to think along those lines, is what has driven the organization to flatten out, basically divest itself, outsource so to speak, a lot of the skills. You got to speak to a lot of the people this week, I hope, that we have turned to and entrusted with a lot of the capabilities that are under the rubric of Strategic Command. But becoming interdependent, becoming distributed, doing more than paying more than lip service to collaborative. These have to become the ways of life.

The great news is that our youth is very comfortable with this way of life, our leadership is not. We can’t afford that disconnect. We really can’t. It was OK, it was almost comical for a senior military officer to say, “Oh, I don’t use that e-mail stuff.” Just can’t lead people credibly if you’re that way. You really can’t be effective in this world that changes so fast if that is the way you approach business.

Space is much the same. My number one priority associated with space, is getting situational awareness in space. If you don’t understand the environment, if you can’t operate in the environment and know what is going on there, you can not be effective. The rest of it will follow, if you can be aware of what is going on around you. And we are not today.

We will fix that.

My other number one priority, I am a Marine, I can have more than one.

There is a place for exquisite, and often times we hear about exquisite intelligence. Exquisite sensors. There is a place for that, but when the processes start taking you to exquisite, which costs a lot of money. Therefore lets put more than one sensor on that body. Which costs you more money, therefore it’s heavier which costs you more money. Therefore I cannot afford it to fail, which costs you more money. The spiral starts taking you in a direction that, I don’t bet on the odds anymore.

Another story that I really love happens to be from my favorite commentator, Paul Harvey. Several years back he talked about diminishing returns and the way that he did that was he explained a story of some analysis that he has done, about 20 years ago, 27% of the American population smoked. We have put billions of dollars into non-smoking and anti-smoking campaigns. 27% of the American population still smokes.

There is a point at which you have got to start looking at where do I get leverage, where should I apply this wonderful youth that we have? How do you vector it in a direction that makes sense? Is there a market out there in space that goes in the other direction that says, simpler is better. That you can afford to change the risk calculus such that, no kidding, a youngster, a young engineer could afford to fail on a launch. And we can say that is alright. That quantity starts to have a value like exquisite has a value.

We have got to find a different calculus. It is another thing that we will do. It is not an option to go in a different direction, we have got to figure that out.

It is so important in this room to gather you together to work with us. Because when I go back to this list of conflicts that we started this diatribe off on, none of those people are after the American military. Every one of them has been very articulate to say, “I am after the American way of life.” The military is not the target. Unless we can band together and find relationships that are much different that the relationships we have been accustomed to, the relationships that we have maybe allowed ourselves maybe to be legislated into. If we can’t find different ways of doing business together.

Because, all the brain trust is not in the military, all the brain trust is not in the first responders. There are youth out there in your companies. There is capability and capacity out there that we have yet to tap. That is ready to get up in the morning and run.

We have got to find a way to work together on this. My sincere desire out of this past week has been to expose you to my leadership, to make sure we can make relationships, because at the end of the day it is those relationships in times of stress that will find the solution to our problem, and our diversity will be part of that solution. We have got to embrace that in a way that we have maybe not done in the past. So, I close this out, because I know that I am standing between a bunch of people with wine in their hands and the door.

Thank you so much for taking this time, thank you so much for what you do for this country and what you do for the men and women of this country that go in harms way on a daily basis.

It means so much to be appreciated, you go out and look at our youth. You get two key things in all the polls. One to be part of something larger than themselves, and two, to be recognized for that. It is what has set this conflict apart from all other conflicts in our history.

We still are embracing the military, our youth, it has made a big difference in this conflict. Doesn’t make it better, doesn’t make it worse from the standpoint of whether we should be there or should be someplace else. But the fact that we have continued to embrace the youth, has stayed true to this idea that what they are really seeking is that recognition that they have here.

I am, for them, eternally grateful to you. Thank you so much for doing this tonight.

And Governor, again, Sir, thank you for this hospitality, this wonderful state and city that we are able to base in, and make a home and become a part of this community. It’s a wonderful place to live.

Thank you so much.

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