Conventional Prompt Global Strike and Long-Range Ballistic Missiles: Background and Issues

by Sabrina I. Pacifici on May 1, 2013

Conventional Prompt Global Strike and Long-Range Ballistic Missiles: Background and Issues, Amy F. Woolf, Specialist in Nuclear Weapons Policy. April 26, 2013

  • Prompt global strike (PGS) would allow the United States to strike targets anywhere on Earth with conventional weapons in as little as an hour. This capability may bolster U.S. efforts to deter and defeat adversaries by allowing the United States to attack high-value targets or “fleeting targets” at the start of or during a conflict. Congress has generally supported the PGS mission, but it has restricted funding and suggested some changes in funding for specific programs. Many analysts believe that the United States should use long-range ballistic missiles with conventional warheads for the PGS mission. These would not substitute for nuclear weapons in the U.S. war plan but would provide a “niche” capability, with a small number of weapons directed against select, critical targets. Some analysts, however, have raised concerns about the possibility that U.S. adversaries might misinterpret the launch of a missile with conventional warheads and conclude that the missiles carry nuclear weapons. DOD is considering a number of systems that might provide the United States with long-range strike capabilities.”
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