Retired Gen. Lance Lord delivered a keynote speech on “The Spirit of Space Power,” Sept. 20, 2022, at AFA’s Air, Space & Cyber Conference. Watch the video or read the transcript below. This transcript is made possible by the sponsorship of JobsOhio.
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Airman and guardians. Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome the 14th Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force. AFA Chairman of the board, Gerald Murray.
Good Morning. Good morning everyone. Well, we certainly got off to a great start yesterday. What a great day. I certainly hope you felt the same way. And then to be able to see so many of you down in the exhibit area with our industry partners there in the evening. And of course, I hope your evening was great as well for those of us that attended and celebrated the 12 Outstanding Airmen of the Year last night. It was really, really a special evening and with just the great Airmen that represent our United States Air Force.
Well, thank you again for being with us today. And as I said yesterday, space is now our middle name. But the Air and Space Forces Association has always been committed to the power of air and space and has always seen them as intimately connected. We begin today with an inspirational message from a giant of Air Force space history. Over 37 years of… Over his 37 year career, he held numerous positions including leadership at the Air University and as commander of the Air Force Space Command. Ladies and gentlemen, it is indeed my honor this morning to introduce to you and bring forward General Lance Lord. General Lord, please.
Let’s hear a little audience participation here, not precipitation. I’m from Colorado. We need precipitation. Okay, good morning.
Okay, the clock started here and CSO, I’ve got 10 minutes to do my warmup for you, so hopefully you’ll support that. And Molly and I know the chief and Jim Brown as well as Secretary. Thank you and to all for being here today and thanks to the Air Force and Space Forces Association, I think that’s a tremendous thing. So I want to talk just a couple minutes about the art of space, but in a way that you probably wouldn’t predict, which is kind of like the way I like to do business. It’d be a little unpredictable, but stay on message throughout that. And Mr. Secretary, I’ve read the reports from your statements, etc. over the last couple days. You’ve got a lot of issues that’s on your plate, I know.
And hopefully as we move in the days ahead, we’ll be able to help you solve some of those and even get better as part of the process. But true to my space background in the launch business, I mean, I’m not a rocket scientist, that’s for sure, but I do know a lot about the rocket business. So what we’ve got today is really what we call in the rocket business a hypergolic situation. Take energetic fuel, energetic oxidizer, you mix them together in the combustion chamber and what do you get? You get an explosion. And a real effort is to manage that explosion in a way that it goes out the right side of the rocket, then the rocket escapes gravity. It’s tough to do that, but with enough thrust you can fly anything. You even fly this building with enough thrust, but you know, you might not know where it going without some kind of guidance set, but that’ll be good.
But with that in mind, in a hypergolic situation, the hypergolic situation we find ourselves in right now, and you all do, is you got a retired general officer and an audience. That’s hypergolic. So I’ll do my best to manage that explosion that we can move on from there. But when you talk about the art of space, how could we define that? It’s not the what, because I know what you all are. What I really want to know is who you are, who you are as you’re part of the Air and Space Forces moving forward. So let’s focus on that for a minute.
Now I have, and I’ve tried to instruct my two sons and their brides and our five grandchildren by the way, as we get together on the East Coast to celebrate our oldest son’s 50th birthday, we’ve got the family together and with five grandchildren and all the adults, you got all this variety that it’s created. You got gluten free, you got dairy free, you got all these things. Trying to find a restaurant that will handle all this variation is really difficult. The only thing that, when we sit down for dinner for this big birthday dinner that everybody would agree on was guess what? Who gets to pay? Yeah.
But the variation of the kinds of things that people bring to this business as we talk about the who of the art of space is really important. My oldest granddaughter, Abby Lord. High School senior. Allstate basketball player. I posed the question to Abby. I said, Abby, who are you? She said, Well, Oppa, it depends. And I said, Okay, let me ask the question again. Who are you, Abby? She says, Well, if you’re recruiting me to play basketball, I’m six feet tall, but if you want to date, I’m 5’10. So, that girl’s going to go a long way. But remember the variation of that. So the who of what we are, who are you? We’re all here because in deference to Warren Buffet, the Oracle of Omaha who said, The only way to make money is to learn how to say no, we’re all here because we said yes.
And you want to say yes as you look at the possibilities of what we can do with this organization and what we can do with the Air and Space Forces as we move forward. We’re all here because we said yes, not because we said no, we said yes, whether we’re an Airman or a Guardian, we said we want to be part of this. We took an oath, oath of enlistment or an officer oath, but that separates us from every other business you can be involved in and in the civilians in the community who also provide the industry and the push to help the secretary and the chiefs get things done that we need to. They took an oath too really, to do the best they could to bring forth the products and services that support this business. So the who of this business is you. Every one of us are part of the who.
So who are you? How much do you know about what we need to do? How are you improving yourself to make sure that you can contribute to the art of space? Now how do we, that’s point number one and true to my academic background in the last four minutes and 32 seconds, I better hurry up here. Three main points. We talked about the who. Now we got to talk about the framework for making the who work. And lastly, we got to talk about what are the next steps and how do we launch forward? Well, I would argue, and I know you’ve all heard this from many times, is the technological imperative that kind of drove the Air Force and the who’s of those days were able to take that and exploit it. Well that kind of framework is how we all grew up and that framework is good for us in the future.
Let me run right back to base basketball for a minute. Abby would permit me to say this, but you know the great basketball coaches and the strategists of the time, Tex Winter who used to support Phil Jackson when he was a coach of the Lakers, the guy that sat next to him and when Michael Jordan was playing, his really commitment was to develop what’s called the triangle offense. And I saw him in Los Angeles and I said, Coach Winter, I really wanted to compliment you on your strategy. He says General, it’s a good strategy, but you know what, it only works if you run it.
So remember the framework we’re in. The total force framework that we developed in the Air Force, Guard Reserve, active duty, civilians, the community of industrial professionals as well as the civilian component makes things really work together. And there’s no reason why that can’t continue to move forward in the future as we talk about how we’re going to make the next steps as a Air and Space Force and leading to really taking advantage of the capabilities we have as Air Force and Space Force together.
So don’t abandon that framework, continue to work inside that operation and then move on to what are the next steps. How do we really operationalize that? As I said, having the strategy is only good if you follow it and you have to adapt along the way. There’s no doubt about it. But I know the CSO and also, the Chief of Staff, the Air Force have adapted that kind of framework. And Mr. Secretary, I’d commit to you that that’s going to be the help that you need to solve the joint all domain command and control issue, which you spoke about yesterday. And those are thorny issues for sure. And how you integrate across that, those domains and make sure we take advantage of that. Those are tough problems, but I think we can stand up to that. We need to understand, and I’m sure John Jumper who’s talked yesterday, if he didn’t say it, I would be embarrassed because he drilled it into my head.
You got to have a concept of operations that you follow in this business. So the framework we operate in, the total force, bringing the best technology together is going to pay off for us. So the steps forward are really to take a look at how do we harness all this intellectual capital, the people, the great people that we have, the who’s who make the spirit of space work every day. How do we move forward? Well, I encourage you to read a couple books if you haven’t already, by Neil deGrasse Tyson, Dr, the Hayden Planetarium. I know General Raymond spent time with him. I really think he’s one of the brightest minds to talk about. How astrophysics fits with what we’re doing in the military. And then understand that there are several books that you should read. One of them is Astrophysics for People in a Hurry.
That’s important to understand. The other is Letters from an Astrophysicist because he gets letters all the time from young people especially saying, well, one of them was why did you cut Pluto out of the Lineage of Planets. You know, kids in school learn the planets from in order from the Earth to outwards Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune. And now no Pluto. He said, I’ve got rafts of letters from angry third graders. Why’d you take Pluto out of the thing? But the relationship is really, really important to think about. We’ve got one more from Dr. Tyson we’ll talk about, but one I want you to think about too, if you can find a copy of this by Stafford Beer called Platforms and Change. It’s about how organizations adapt and run and are able to operate in uncertain and unpredictable times. This is goes way back, it’s a cybernetic view of an organization input, output process in the middle and the feedback.
Why do organizations react to how they do that? And sir, Mr. Secretary, I know that that’s going to be part of the solution set for what’s going to happen in JADC2 is really how do we work these organizational issues together? I know that that’s something will be important. So do that. Who? You’re the who. We know where we’ve been, now, where we’re going is our ability to kind of harness our understanding, be able to maximize the operation utility of space as General Raymond and I know General Sussmann’s had his hearing and I think that went well. And I know our friend Tammy Cotton is going to be the strategic commander as well. All out of that same mold of people who think about the future in exciting and interesting ways and taking care of the people in the process. The framework we have treats everybody with dignity and respect.
And remember, we can’t do anything as we move forward without that hallmark of the issue. It’s going to be tough, it’s going to be hard, it’s going to be things we need to do. And the red light’s on. So I give you four stanzas from my favorite poem, Invictus by William Ernest Henley, British author, and mid 18 hundreds. The last four lines are important: “No matter how straight the gate are charged with punishment to stroll, I am the master of my fate. I am the captain of my soul.” You got it. We got it. We got to do it. So I’m proud that you’ll do that and I look forward to hearing from General Raymond. Thank you very much.
General. Wow, General Lord, sir we can’t thank you enough. And I just took the opportunity to be able to thank General Lord by handing the 75th anniversary commemorative coin. But sir, we have a little something else to be able to add to that. And so I want to thank General Raymond for joining me on stage. And gentlemen, if we might and if General Lord, if you’ll take center stage between General Raymond and me.
AFA Lifetime Achievement Award. General Lance W Lord was commander of Air Force Space Command from 2002 to 2006, at which time he retired. He was responsible for the development, acquisition, and operation of the Air Force’s Space and Missile Systems. He oversaw a global network of satellite command and control communications, missile warning and ICBM launch facilities, and ensured the combat readiness of America’s entire intercontinental ballistic missile force. The General held senior positions at the wing and numbered Air Force levels, as well as serving as the commander of Air University. General Lord is the chairman and Chief Executive Officer of L2 Aerospace. Prior to this, Lord served as Chief Executive Officer of Astrotech Space Operations, where he led the execution of expanding core services from spacecraft processing support to a comprehensive line of end to end mission assurance services. He also serves as the Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors for Boneal Aerospace, a role he has held since 2015. The Air and Space Forces Association proudly presents a lifetime achievement award to General Lance W Lord.
Thank you very much. I certainly appreciate this. Real quick story about when I was first commander of Air Force Base Command in 2002, I came to the Air Force Association meeting and they had a big sign says, Check your membership status. So I got in line, I got all the way up to the front and I said, I’m Lance Lord, could you tell me when my membership expires? And they went through the roster, they got to the L’s and they said, Well General Lord, you’re a lifetime member. And I said, I just want to know if you know something I don’t. And now I know you do. So thank you very much.