The View from Here
Participants at our recently completed Strategic Space and Defense 2008 conference couldn't help but notice the strong representation of our international partners. Coalition war fighting partners, NATO allies, joint operators, friends new and old were well represented in Omaha, with nearly 30 senior military officers representing half a dozen partner nations.
And well they should be. As Gen. Kevin P. Chilton, USAF, commander, U.S. Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM) emphasized in off-agenda meetings and his conference capstone remarks, USSTRATCOM is a global command with a global mission to deliver global effects to our war fighters, allies, coalition partners, and others. By definition, the command's main mission sets - space, cyberspace, and deterrence/global strike - are global. Military-to-military relationships are essential to the success of these missions and solidarity with our international partners is essential for deterrence to be credible.
It speaks to the importance of these relationships, and the importance of Strategic Space and Defense as a venue, that conference participants traveled from as far away as England, Australia, Germany, and Japan. We have some very important things in common. Our sons and daughters all wear the uniform of their country. From Bosnia and Kosovo to Iraq and Afghanistan, their sons and daughters have fought and will fight side-by-side with our own. They rely upon, provide components for, and jointly operate space and cyberspace systems for the joint fight. They provide ground stations and operators to support the global military space architecture, and FOBs and FOLs to assure the global reach that is the bedrock of U.S. strategic deterrence.
Many of them operate the same equipment as our own U.S. Armed Forces, procured from the same U.S. aerospace suppliers. Others are key military and industrial partners on international military procurement programs like the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. Our friends from Canada have sat alert at NORAD, side-by-side with their U.S. counterparts, 24/7 for half a century. Among our international partners represented at the conference, there is not a single country that has not made significant purchases from the U.S. aerospace industry.
By every measure, Strategic Space and Defense 2008 was a tremendous success, despite a very difficult economic environment. Thanks to an unprecedented level of engagement by the USSTRATCOM commander and staff, the program was ranked by many as the best, highest-quality combination of speakers and topics in the history of the conference. The exhibit center was buzzing, and off-agenda meetings were too numerous to count. Key congressional members such as The Honorable Ben Nelson, United States Senate and The Honorable Ellen O. Tauscher, United States House of Representatives added real substance. Outreach to Omaha and Bellevue area schools and participation of Nebraska students was at an all-time high, and a Space Law pre-conference seminar was oversubscribed.
With so many things to celebrate, why have I chosen to focus on international participation? Because the multi-service international component makes Strategic Space and Defense a unique opportunity, and we all need to get smarter on how to make the most of it.
For USSTRATCOM, this is a no-brainer. Aussies, Brits, and Canadians are assigned to the USSTRATCOM staff. Military-to-military activities form an increasingly important underpinning to how the command conducts its business. Chilton and his team were quite purposeful in encouraging a strong international component to Strategic Space & Defense. Military-to-military communications, exercises, procurements, war fighting, peace keeping, and deterrence aren't the wave of the future. They are the way of doing business for USSTRATCOM now. Not to understand this is to not understand the command.
For the many customers whose instrumental support and participation has lead to the rapid evolution of Strategic Space and Defense into a must-attend event, every non-U.S. uniform represents a friend, ally, and potential customer.
For the tremendous, supportive Omaha and Bellevue communities, as well as the State of Nebraska, what better opportunity to play on the world stage than to have the world come to Omaha?
The View From Here is that we have built, and billed, this premier event as "the global security conference for space and defense professionals" for good reasons. The command is global. Its concerns are global. The threats are global. And the ways and means of mission success are global. This means that, for all our customers, the opportunities at Strategic Space and Defense are also global.
I want to thank each and every company, organization, and individual who helped make our 2008 event one of the very best ever and I invite you to return with us to Omaha, 6-8 October 2009, for Strategic Space and Defense 2009.
Elliot Holokauahi Pulham
Chief Executive Officer