Home >> September 2008 Edition >> COMMAND CENTER: Robert Demers
Senior Vice President, Americom Government Services

When Robert Demers joined Americom Government Services (AGS), he brought with him decades of experience as; Vice President of government solutions for Inmarsat; general manager of global government services at ICO Global Communications, Inc., a Mobile Satellite Service (MSS) company; 22 years in the U.S. Army, serving in a variety of capacities including service as a combat helicopter pilot, an Aviation Unit Commander, and as Army liaison to the U.S. Senate. During one of his rare moments of availability, we caught up with him to retrieve some information regarding his work with AGC.

Mr. Demers, what key role does your company play within the military and/or government-based satellite industry, and how has that changed over the past, few years?

Robert Demers
AMERICOM Government Services (AGS) provides both civilian and defense agencies with the best satellite communications solutions available. From satellite capacity to engineering and integration solutions, Americom Government Services provides comprehensive, global solutions that reflect a thorough understanding of the government market.

Our full range of turnkey satellite solutions ensure secure communications combined with comprehensive global coverage. Offerings include custom network solutions, strategic satellite solutions (hosted and customized payloads) and transponder leases.

2008 has been a pretty remarkable year for AMERICOM Government Services. Earlier in the year, we were awarded the Army TROJAN contract to continue our support of the custom network we designed for U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command. This award represented the largest dollar value contract win for our company to date. Additionally, we were given the opportunity to host a payload for the U.S. Air Force in the form of an experimental infrared sensor on board one of our spacecraft that is scheduled to launch in 2010. Most recently, we signed an agreement to acquire AOS Inc., a secure telecommunications technology company out of Dallas, Texas — a partnership that will better enable us to provide secure solutions to our U.S. government customers.

What advances can we expect in milsatcom technology over the next year or so?

Robert Demers
From a commercial perspective, micro technology allows us to do great things with less weight, less mass and less power and increases our ability to create new capabilities. The benefit of working with industry on these advancements is that we continue to test and experiment with new technologies on our satellites not only for our government customers, but our commercial partners as well.

Over the past few years, the demand from the military for commercial satellite use has grown exponentially. Satellite solutions have played an integral roll in war fighting efforts as well intelligence gathering, disaster relief efforts and other missions that require instant communications in areas around the world. With this continued growth the reality is that over the next 5-10 years, the gap between military demand and availability for satellite capacity will continue to grow.

By-and-large, the increase in demand will come from across DoD, however, there are specific mission areas that we can anticipate will increase more substantially than others as the projected consumption of bandwidth per mission also grows over time. The key drivers behind many of these mission areas are the need for AISR, mobility and flexibility.

The primary requirements served by satellite in most instances include some element of Comms on the Move (COTM) and/or acquisition/delivery of data from UAVs, both of which are satellite-based and heavy bandwidth applications in multiple frequencies

What are the major challenges facing improving military and governmental agency communications and intelligence needs? Bureaucracy? Time to deployment? Funding and other?

Robert Demers
The increase in military demand for commercial satellite services over the past few years has caused a higher utilization of capacity across the major fleets. New military satellite communications systems now being launched will not be sufficient to meet this continued demand, meaning there is an ongoing, sustained DoD need for high levels of commercial satellite capacity. The limitation of commercial satellite companies to be able to provide the required capacity can be reduced when our government customers involve their corporate partners early in the mission planning process.

It is our intention to address this gap and make the business case so that we can recommend the appropriate investments in our fleet of 38 global SES satellites, and we are in a strong financial position to begin these discussions and make the investments to meet the government’s demand in the coming years.

Our procurement cycles in the commercial industry (and subsequent capacity in orbit) are not optimally aligned with the process and budget cycles of the government which increases communications difficulty in getting adequate capacity in the proper location in a timely manner.

Another challenge facing the space industry as it pertains to military communications is that at the present time, there is no active executive agent for space as authorized in DoD Directive 5101.2.

How will your company address this market over the next one to two years?

Robert Demers
We will continue to work closely with the government to identify capacity needs going forward so that we are able to provide the type of capacity, in the desired locations at the time it is required — just as we do for our commercial customers. We can do this by customizing our spacecraft and hosting full or partial payloads for our U.S. government customers. We are also capable of providing small bespoke satellites to meet specific missions in regions.

Additionally, we will need to work with our government customers to preposition certain kinds of capacity with some level of portability in hot spots such as SW Asia, the Pacific Rim and South America. This capacity should be duel usage and should enable the U.S. government and industry to both make the investment and use the capacity.

Thanks for your time, Robert. To assist with their growth, AGS just recently acquired AOS, Inc., engineers of secure telecommunications technologies and global network mobility. AOS, founded and based in Dallas, Texas, will be integrated as a division of AGS. AOS provides highly secure, customized, turnkey network mobility and communications solutions, and engineering, program management, IT consulting and managed network services.

SatSavy AGS
An SES AMERICOM company, AGS leverages 38 global satellites to create custom satellite communications solutions to meet the mission requirements of the U.S. Department of Defense, NASA, FAA, and other U.S. government organizations around the world. Please see the list of satellites accessible by AGS on the previous page.