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U.S. Conventional Prompt Global Strike: Issues for 2008 and Beyond Summary The National Research Council’s (NRC’s) Committee on Conventional Prompt Global Strike Capability1 was established in response to the conference report accompanying Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2007 (Public Law 109-289).2 In May 2007, the committee provided an interim letter report to the Congress which, together with this final report, satisfies the original congressional tasking.3 The committee first convened in February 2007 and met over a period of 8 months.4 In total, the committee received nearly 100 documents from a wide range of organizations, including the Defense Intelligence Agency, Department of State, Joint Chiefs of Staff, Office of the Secretary of Defense, U.S. Air Force, U.S. Army, U.S. Navy, U.S. Strategic Command, and a number of nongovernmental organizations. In addition to its data gathering, the committee met in closed session throughout this study in order to deliberate on its findings and recommendations and to prepare both its interim and final reports. As with the interim report, all findings and recommendations in this final report are supported unanimously by the members of the committee. 1 Committee members’ biographies are provided in Appendix C. 2 Making Appropriations for the Department of Defense for the Fiscal Year Ending September 30, 2007, and for Other Purposes: Conference Report to Accompany H.R. 5631, H. Rept. 109-676, pp. 227-228, 109th Cong., 2d sess. (September 25, 2006). 3 The statement of task for this study and the congressional language requesting the study are provided in Appendix D. The interim letter report is reprinted in Appendix E. 4 During the course of its study, the committee held meetings in which it received (and discussed) materials that are exempt from release under 5 U.S.C. 552(b). A summary of the committee’s meeting agendas is provided in Appendix F.
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U.S. Conventional Prompt Global Strike: Issues for 2008 and Beyond To frame the analysis of conventional prompt global strike (CPGS), the committee posed the following questions: Does the United States need CPGS capabilities? What are the alternative CPGS systems, and how effective are they likely to be if proposed capabilities are achieved? What would be the implications of alternative CPGS systems for stability, doctrine, decision making, and operations? What nuclear ambiguity concerns arise from CPGS, and how might they be mitigated? What arms control issues arise with CPGS systems, and how might they be resolved? Should the United States proceed with research, development, testing, and evaluation (RDT&E) of the Conventional Trident Modification (CTM) program5 and, ultimately, with CTM production and deployment? Should the United States proceed with the development and testing of alternative CPGS systems beyond CTM? Issues surrounding these key questions are discussed in detail throughout the report. To help frame the committee’s major recommendations, these questions, along with major findings, are summarized in the following section. KEY QUESTIONS AND MAJOR FINDINGS RELATING TO CPGS 1. Does the United States Need CPGS Capabilities? The committee developed a set of credible scenarios and cases with which to assess the feasibility and value of various levels of coverage and promptness and to assess the relative merits of alternative approaches to CPGS. In doing so, it drew on material provided by Department of Defense (DOD) officials, historical experience over the past decade with actual or seriously contemplated strikes, and intelligence projections. The scenarios included, for example, the need to strike a ballistic missile launcher poised to launch a nuclear weapon at the United States or at an ally; an opportunity to strike a gathering of terrorist leaders or a shipment of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) during a brief period of vulnerability; and the need to disable an adversary’s command-and-control capability as the leading edge of a broader combat operation. With the benefit of these scenarios and more specifically defined test cases, the committee concluded that a high-confidence CPGS capability would be valu- 5 The Conventional Trident Modification program involves the conversion of two Trident II (D5) missiles on each of the U.S. Navy’s 12 deployed nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines from nuclear-armed to conventionally armed.
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U.S. Conventional Prompt Global Strike: Issues for 2008 and Beyond able; that technical development and assessment should be pursued immediately; and that if system effectiveness is demonstrated, production and deployment should follow as soon as practicable. The committee concluded also that if the DOD’s stated goal of achieving “global” strike were to be accepted as a strict criterion, it would rule out potentially attractive options. Long range is an important element of CPGS but not the only factor of interest. Thus, the committee did not interpret the term “global” literally. In contrast, the committee concluded that setting a goal of 1 hour for execution time6 in a conventional strike was sensible when viewed in terms of feasibility, value, and affordability. But here, too, the goal was not considered as a strict criterion, and some options that would not quite meet the DOD goal were considered in the analysis. The desire for a CPGS capability has been noted in numerous national defense strategy documents and reports to Congress over the past several years. In February 2007, the Secretary of Defense and Secretary of State submitted to Congress a report that clearly articulated CPGS mission types and made clear the shared DOD and State Department view that CTM is a needed near-term CPGS capability.7 At present, U.S. strikes with conventional weapons are conducted primarily through the use of forward-based systems, particularly tactical aircraft and cruise missiles, and with heavy bombers. Effective use of these systems requires that there be adequate time available to position the aircraft and/or missiles within range of the targets, to conduct detailed mission planning, and, when needed, to provide tanker refueling capability. For distances of about 500 nautical miles (nmi) or more, the flight time alone for current air-breathing vehicles exceeds 1 hour. Accordingly, current forward-based systems can meet the “within 1 hour” criterion for a “prompt” strike only for relatively short distances to targets, and then only if appropriately pre-positioned and with extensive mission-support assets available. The growth of sophisticated air defenses might also present problems for forward-deployed forces, unless attacks by those forces were preceded by effective defense-suppression attacks. Figure S-1 displays the CPGS “capability gap” that exists at present and indicates that ballistic missiles, either intercontinental or sea-launched, could potentially fill the gap in terms of the time/distance specifications. Recent U.S. strikes with conventional weapons have included the use of armed unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), such as Predator, in attacks against al-Qaeda members in Pakistan. Clearly, if (1) U.S. forces equipped with armed UAVs are deployed sufficiently close to the targets to enable UAVs to reach the targets “promptly” and if (2) local air defenses do not pose an unacceptable threat to the 6 “Execution time” is the time between the President’s order to execute the attack and when the target is affected. 7 Secretary of Defense and Secretary of State. 2007. Report to Congress on Conventional Trident Modification (CTM) (U), Washington, D.C., February 1 (classified).
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U.S. Conventional Prompt Global Strike: Issues for 2008 and Beyond FIGURE S-1 Conventional prompt global strike (CPGS) capability gap. The time needed to reach a target as a function of range for existing conventional systems contrasted with ballistic missiles and hypersonic cruise missiles. success of the mission, then armed UAVs would provide an option for prompt strike. However, there are many credible scenarios in which these conditions are not met. In addition, CPGS systems employing long-range ballistic missiles with high payloads are projected to be effective against a broader class of targets than could be effectively attacked by armed UAVs. Major Finding 1. There are credible scenarios in which the United States could gain meaningful political and strategic advantages by being able to strike with conventional weapons important targets that could not be attacked rapidly by currently deployed military assets. In light of the appropriately extreme reluctance to use nuclear weapons, conventional prompt global strike (CPGS) could be of particular value in some important scenarios in that it would eliminate the dilemma of having to choose between responding to a sudden threat either by using nuclear weapons or by not responding at all.
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U.S. Conventional Prompt Global Strike: Issues for 2008 and Beyond 2. What Are the Alternative CPGS Systems, and How Effective Are They Likely to Be If Proposed Capabilities Are Achieved? The U.S. Air Force Space Command serves as the executive agent for the DOD’s analysis of alternatives (AoA) for conventional strike and prompt global strike systems. Expected to be completed in May 2008, the DOD AoA examines systems that might be available in the near term, mid-term, and long term: these consist of CTM, with a projected fiscal year (FY) 2010 initial operational capability (IOC)8 (based on FY 2008 funding); a Conventional Strike Missile (CSM) based in the continental United States (CONUS), with a projected FY 2014/2015 IOC (based on a funded FY 2008 demonstration program); and four conceptual alternatives with projected FY 2020 IOCs. Informed by the DOD’s ongoing AoA, the committee elected to analyze seven CPGS system options.9 Existing systems. These comprise tactical aircraft, cruise missiles, other armed unmanned aerial vehicles, and heavy bombers. Conventional Trident Modification. CTM is a near-term alternative proposed by the DOD. It involves the conversion of two Trident II (D5) missiles on each of the U.S. Navy’s 12 deployed nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs) from nuclear-armed to conventionally armed. Each converted Trident missile would carry up to four reentry vehicles equipped with advanced navigation, guidance, and control capabilities. Each reentry vehicle would carry a warhead consisting of dispersible kinetic energy projectiles (KEPs). CTM-2. CTM-2 is a mid-term alternative conceived by the committee. It would employ conventional warheads on a missile consisting of the first two stages of the three-stage Trident missile. Removal of the third-stage motor would result in increased payload volume and payload options, while still achieving range on the order of 4,000 nmi. Submarine-Launched Global Strike Missile (SLGSM). This mid-term to long-term alternative, conceived by the Navy, would build on CTM experience and could carry either multiple KEP warheads or a single, heavier warhead suitable 8 “Initial operational capability” is defined in The Department of Defense Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms as “the first attainment of the capability to employ effectively a weapon, item of equipment, or system of approved specific characteristics that is manned or operated by an adequately trained, equipped, and supported military unit or force” (Department of Defense, Joint Publication 1-02, April 12, 2001, as amended through October 17, 2007). 9 Similar to the committee’s interim letter report, the final report is based on the committee’s collective knowledge as well as on input from other experts, both internal and external to the DOD. Appendix C provides biographical information on the committee members, among whom are technical experts familiar with research, development, and acquisition areas related to strategic strike systems. Accordingly, the committee thought it appropriate in some cases, such as in the case of CTM and CSM, to modify currently proposed DOD CPGS systems in ways that would enhance these systems while at the same time placing their projected capabilities on more realistic paths for potential near-, mid-, and/or long-term utility.
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U.S. Conventional Prompt Global Strike: Issues for 2008 and Beyond for attack against some hard targets. SLGSMs would be launched from existing nuclear-powered guided missile submarines (SSGNs). Boost-glide missile (initial version, CSM-1). CSM-1 is a mid-term alternative and committee modification of the Air Force-proposed Conventional Strike Missile concept, which would be launched using a Minotaur ballistic missile (i.e., a modified version of the no longer operationally deployed Peacekeeper). The CSM-1 system would have extended range and substantial maneuvering capability, which would be useful in avoiding undesired overflights of other countries. An initial deployment of CSM-1 would have specified capabilities of 800 seconds of glide time and of delivering either a KEP or a penetrator warhead suitable for use against some hard targets.10 Boost-glide missile (second version, CSM-2). CSM-2 is a long-term alternative and committee modification of the Air Force-proposed CONUS-based missile concept. The specifications for this longer-term, advanced variant of the boost-glide missile would include a 3,000-second glide time to give it a longer range than that of CSM-1, and a capability to slow to speeds appropriate to dispensing multiple munitions and, possibly, to dispensing modules for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR); battle damage assessment (BDA); and reattack. Hypersonic cruise missiles. Hypersonic cruise missiles are long-term alternatives, similar to the AoA’s Mach 6 missile, that could be forward-deployed (e.g., on SSGNs or on land) or launched from long-range aircraft. While hypersonic cruise missiles would have only medium range, their specifications would call for considerable capability for terminal-phase dispensing of smart munitions and ISR modules. Table S-1 summarizes some of the key attributes of each of these seven alternatives, all of which are analyzed and evaluated in this report. The criteria for evaluation include time to implementation, anticipated cost, delivery accuracy, weapons effectiveness, technical risk, proposed performance in various military scenarios, and contribution to the evolution of long-term CPGS capability. CTM would be effective against some targets of political and military significance that cannot be struck promptly with existing systems. All alternative CPGS systems, which would to varying degrees overcome the limitations of CTM (e.g., inability to destroy hard or buried targets, limited numbers), would reach IOC later 10 As discussed in Chapter 4, the time line for the CSM effort planned and funded by the U.S. Air Force is optimistic for a program intended to result in a highly reliable, highly effective presidential-release weapon. In the committee’s judgment, a prudently scheduled, well-funded program with adequate testing would have an IOC of about 2017 for an initial version of CSM (which the committee refers to as CSM-1) that has an 800-second glide phase and is capable of delivering either KEP or penetrator warheads, and an IOC of about 2022 for a second version (which the committee refers to as CSM-2) that is proposed to have a 3,000-second glide phase and to be capable of dispensing a wide variety of air-launched weapons at high speed or delivery of KEP or penetrator warheads.
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U.S. Conventional Prompt Global Strike: Issues for 2008 and Beyond than CTM, as shown in Table S-1.11 CTM-2 could be effective against some hard targets (because its payload volume is greater than that of CTM), but the IOC of CTM-2 would lag that of CTM by 1 or 2 years. SLGSM would provide greater payload than CTM and would offer more flexible terminal trajectory together with more firepower (number of tubes and number of missiles per tube) than CTM, but it would be more costly than CTM or CTM-2 and is projected to lag CTM by 3 to 4 years. Boost-glide missiles—such as the CSM-1 and CSM-2—and hypersonic cruise missiles would provide maneuvering capability for larger payloads, but they would have much higher associated costs and developmental uncertainties and would take at least 8 years from now to bring to IOC. Major Finding 2. Conventional Trident Modification (CTM) has advantages over alternative CPGS systems in its near-term availability, low development cost, low opportunity cost, low technical risk, and minimal required changes in declared policy or doctrine. While CTM has limitations compared with other CPGS alternatives, it would be effective against many targets that current systems could not engage quickly enough, and it is the only CPGS system that could be available in the near term. 3. What Would Be the Implications of Alternative CPGS Systems for Stability, Doctrine, Decision Making, and Operations? The essential policy judgment that must be made in selecting any CPGS system and the doctrine for its use is whether the advantages of the new system would outweigh the disadvantages that it presented. The judgment will depend in part on the type of CPGS system under consideration. Some of the challenges are smaller for CTM than for other CPGS systems because of the CTM program’s limited scale, CTM’s relatively low cost and technological risk, and its direct lineage from the mature Trident system. However, some of the more advanced CPGS systems (if they prove to be technically feasible) could be designed and deployed so as to reduce ambiguity concerns that arise from the use of delivery vehicles and platforms previously associated with nuclear weapons (see the subsection below). With the introduction of any significant new military capability, the doctrine for use must be clearly defined by policy makers and clearly understood by military commanders and planners. The use of long-range missiles to deliver conventional weapons promptly and accurately enough to damage meaningful targets requires enabling information (e.g., intelligence, command-and-control, 11 A 2005 National Research Council report entitled Effects of Nuclear Earth-Penetrator and Other Weapons concluded, among other things, that many strategic hard and deeply buried targets can only be attacked directly with nuclear weapons. See National Research Council, 2005, Effects of Nuclear Earth-Penetrator and Other Weapons, The National Academies Press, Washington, D.C.
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U.S. Conventional Prompt Global Strike: Issues for 2008 and Beyond TABLE S-1 Summary of Conventional Prompt Global Strike Alternatives Reviewed by the Committee Alternatives Origins Launch Vehicles Range (Payload-Dependent)a Munitions Payload Capacityb Earliest IOCc 20-Year Cost (relative to CTM: billions of 2009 dollars)d Existing systems USA, USAF, USMC, USN Cruise missiles, tactical aircraft, and heavy bombers 1,500 to >6,000 nmi 1,000-2,000 lb Available now Not applicable CTM USN (sea-based) Trident: D5 (3-stage) >4,000 nmi >1,000 lb 2011 1 CTM-2 Committee (sea-based) Trident: 2-stage >4,000 nmie 2,000 lbe 2013 3 SLGSM USN (sea-based) 2-stage rocket booster 3,000 nmi 2,000 lb 2014-2015 5-10 Boost-glide missile (CSM-1) Committee/USAF (land-based)f Minotaur III >6,000 nmi 2,000 lb 2016-2020 10-20
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U.S. Conventional Prompt Global Strike: Issues for 2008 and Beyond Boost-glide missile (CSM-2) Committee/USAF (land-based)f Minotaur III >6,000 nmi (plus additional glide range vs. CSM-1) 2,000 lb 2018-2024 10-25 Hypersonic cruise missiles USN (sea-based) or USAF (land-based or B-52) Single-stage rocket booster 2,000-3,000 nmi 1,000-2,000 lb 2020- 2024 10-20 NOTE: Acronyms are defined in Appendix A. aData on range and payload for CTM, SLGSM, CSM-1, CSM-2, and hypersonic cruise missile options are extracted from Amy F. Woolf, 2007, Conventional Warheads for Long-Range Ballistic Missiles: Background and Issues for Congress, CRS Report to Congress, Congressional Research Service, Washington, D.C., June 19, pp. 10-12, 24-26. bThe reader is cautioned that direct mass-to-mass comparisons of munitions capacity do not reflect weapons effectiveness. Different types of munitions will have different weapon impact for the same mass. cThe reported initial operational capability (IOC) data in this table are the committee’s best estimates based on information presented to the committee and the experience of committee members, assuming an authorization date of 2008. Actual IOCs for all but the CTM are likely to be later for many reasons, including delays in decision making, the time required to stand up program offices, and unanticipated problems in systems engineering. dThe 20-year cost estimates are based on contractor briefings. The numbers quoted are imprecise estimates of costs relative to the projected cost for CTM. eThe committee-generated CTM-2 concept would have a larger payload capability due to the throw weight and volume freed up by removing the third-stage motor of a Trident missile. Range, however, would be somewhat lower depending on payload. fCSM-1 and CSM-2 are committee modifications of the Air Force-proposed CSM and CONUS missile concepts, respectively.
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U.S. Conventional Prompt Global Strike: Issues for 2008 and Beyond targeting) that is significantly more difficult to obtain than that needed for nuclear weapons or for conventional weapons delivered by manned aircraft.12 The speed of delivery of enabling information and of a decision to execute must be fast enough to achieve an extremely short overall execution time, yet rigorous command-and-control requirements must be met. The committee believes that a fundamental command-and-control imperative for CPGS systems would be that the weapon could be employed only on the order of the President of the United States. A comprehensive study of the military and diplomatic implications of acquiring and possibly employing CPGS capabilities should precede any deployment and should include the consideration of factors such as the potential for inappropriate, mistaken, or accidental use; the implications for nuclear deterrence and crisis stability (including ambiguity considerations); the impact of overflight and debris; and the implications for arms control and associated agreements. Major Finding 3. CPGS systems raise policy, doctrine, and operational issues that should be studied comprehensively prior to deployment. The committee’s examination of these issues leads it to believe that they could be resolved satisfactorily and that they would not be an obstacle to deployment. Areas of comprehensive study should include the potential for inappropriate, mistaken, or accidental use; the implications for nuclear deterrence and crisis stability (including “ambiguity” considerations); the impact of overflight and debris; and the implications for arms control and associated agreements. 4. What Nuclear Ambiguity Concerns Arise from CPGS, and How Might They Be Mitigated? Nuclear ambiguity is the most frequently raised objection to proceeding with CTM.13 This concern is often described as arising only in the case of CPGS systems that (like CTM) would use delivery vehicles and platforms previously associated with nuclear weapons. However, the concern applies to varying degrees to any CPGS system, since any vehicle capable of delivering a conventional 12 Ballistic missile delivery systems were developed for nuclear weapons for which, owing to the large damage area of the weapon, achieving the required accuracy in the placement of the weapon is relatively easy to accomplish. In contrast, for conventional weapons, accuracy of placement (technically referred to in terms of the circular error probable [CEP] or spherical error probable [SEP]) is essential in order to obtain the desired effects on the target. 13 In a letter dated February 16, 2007, to Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone, President of the National Academy of Sciences, Senators Daniel K. Inouye and Ted Stevens, Chairman and Ranking Member, respectively, of the Senate Committee on Appropriations, Subcommittee on Defense, stated that “there was widespread, but not universal, agreement [in the Senate] that the Congress should not proceed with the conventional Trident program [and that] critical to the opposition was a belief that the Trident option proposed the most difficult challenge of ambiguity.” This letter is reproduced in Appendix B.
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U.S. Conventional Prompt Global Strike: Issues for 2008 and Beyond weapon to long range and with high speed and accuracy would also be effective in delivering a nuclear weapon. If another country, for example Russia or China, were to detect the launch of one or more conventionally armed long-range missiles from a deployed SSBN, how might it interpret the event? There are two aspects, logically and practically distinct, of the nuclear ambiguity issue. The first is the possible misinterpretation by an observing nation of a conventional strike on a third party as a nuclear strike on its own territory. The second is the possible misinterpretation by an observing nation of one or more conventionally armed missiles headed toward its territory as a nuclear attack. The ambiguity issue is more significant in the second case. The committee’s analysis of the nuclear ambiguity issue focused on the following questions: Who would be able to detect the launch? If a foreign nation were to detect the launch, would it be able to identify correctly the missile type and estimate the trajectory of the missile or the reentry vehicles? If a launch were detected by a foreign nation, what would happen? Would that nation’s nuclear forces and surveillance systems be alerted, and if so what would be the consequences? Would a “retaliatory” strike be ordered? Even if there were no immediate adverse effects, what long-term reactions might be triggered? These questions are stated simply, but the answers do not lend themselves to such simplicity. Nevertheless, the committee’s judgment is as follows: In the next 5 years or so, only Russia will be able to detect the launch of a ballistic missile from a sea-based platform. China might obtain such capability soon thereafter. If a foreign nation were able to observe the launch of a ballistic missile, it might also be able to determine the missile type. If it were to track the early flight of the missile, it would be able to predict the subsequent ballistic trajectory of the reentry vehicles. Predicting the course of a maneuverable system would be far more difficult. The reaction of a nation observing the launch would depend on the context. For example, is the observing nation an adversary of the United States or an ally? Does the missile appear to be headed to a target on its territory? Is this event occurring in the midst of a period of conflict or in a time of relative peace? Command and surveillance systems would likely be fully alerted and, depending on the context, military forces (possibly including nuclear forces) might also be brought to higher alert status. The committee believes that the risk of the observing nation’s launching
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U.S. Conventional Prompt Global Strike: Issues for 2008 and Beyond a nuclear retaliatory attack is very low. A foreign nation would be extremely unlikely to believe that the United States was starting a nuclear war with only a handful of missiles, and that nation would have every incentive, in its own interest, to determine definitively the character of the attack before responding. This risk could be reduced even further by means of cooperative measures, such as providing information to bilateral partners about the CPGS system, its operation, and the doctrine for its use; immediately notifying of launches against countries; and installing devices (such as continuous monitoring systems) to increase the confidence that conventional warheads had not been replaced by nuclear warheads.14 The possibility of conditions in which misinterpretations would be plausible is not, in the committee’s judgment, a valid reason to forgo the CPGS capability for those many other cases in which the risk of misinterpretation is negligible. Substantive (as opposed to rhetorical) international reactions to the U.S. acquisition and possible use of CPGS capabilities probably would include countermeasures intended to protect valuable potential targets and might include increased emphasis on acquiring comparable conventional strike capabilities. The intensity of any such reactions would be expected to depend to a substantial degree on the scale of the U.S. CPGS deployment or use. For example, the detection of the launch of a large number of conventionally armed missiles might be interpreted as an attempted “disarming first strike” against a nation’s strategic forces. The committee believes that the CTM program, as currently envisioned, is sufficiently small in scale to make it unlikely that international reactions would be of strategic significance. Major Finding 4. Nuclear ambiguity is an understandable concern regarding CTM and, to varying degrees, all other CPGS systems. Nuclear ambiguity cannot be eliminated simply by avoiding a “legacy” nuclear system, such as Trident. The risk of a CPGS attack being misinterpreted and leading to a nuclear attack on the United States could be mitigated and managed through readily available mechanisms. The benefits of possessing a limited CPGS capability, such as that provided by CTM, outweigh the risks associated with nuclear ambiguity. 5. What Arms Control Issues Arise with CPGS Systems, and How Might They Be Resolved? Both the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty of 1987 and the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) of 1991 contain provisions that would 14 Appendix H provides a discussion of some cooperative efforts (both technical and nontechnical) that can be applied toward mitigating nuclear ambiguity.
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U.S. Conventional Prompt Global Strike: Issues for 2008 and Beyond apply to certain CPGS systems. The Moscow Treaty of 2002 (Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty, or SORT) requires reduction and limitation of strategic nuclear warheads, but it does not constrain non-nuclear warheads and, therefore, does not affect any CPGS system. The INF Treaty had been signed in 1987 by the United States and the former Soviet Union; after the breakup of the Soviet Union, Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine assumed the obligations of the former Soviet Union. That treaty prohibits flight-testing, production, and deployment of ground-launched ballistic missiles and ground-launched cruise missiles with ranges between 500 and 5,500 kilometers, regardless of warhead type. It places no restrictions on manned aircraft, air-launched or sea-launched systems, or on ground-launched systems with ranges less than 500 or greater than 5,500 kilometers. The INF Treaty is of unlimited duration. START requires the United States and Russia to limit their deployed strategic arsenals to no more than 6,000 warheads, with no more than 4,900 on intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) and submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs), in accordance with agreed counting rules. START covers all ICBMs and SLBMs and their associated launchers, including new types of ballistic missiles, and no distinction is made between nuclear-armed and non-nuclear-armed ballistic missiles. START is scheduled to remain in force until December 5, 2009, but even if not extended or renegotiated, it is unlikely that its restrictions will disappear entirely. With these arms control issues in mind, an obvious question for some readers may be why some of the Air Force land-based Minuteman III missiles should not be converted from nuclear-armed to conventionally armed in a manner similar to the Navy CTM program. After thorough investigation of the Minuteman option, the committee concluded that, although technically viable, it is not a realistic contender (for reasons described in Appendix I). In short, the required renegotiation of START, combined with “not-in-my-backyard” issues, presents substantial challenges to deploying ICBMs in locations such as Hawaii or Guam, particularly in the near term. These challenges are judged to be significantly more formidable than the obstacles to CTM deployment. Neither minimizing the number of conventionally armed ICBMs to be deployed in Hawaii or Guam nor using mobile units rather than silos altered the committee’s conclusion.15 Major Finding 5. Neither CTM nor CTM-2 is in conflict with the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty of 1987 or the Strategic Arms 15 In the committee’s judgment, any proposed land-based, conventional ICBM system, such as one based on the no longer operationally deployed Peacekeeper, would face the same near-term concerns for deployment as those outlined in Appendix I for Minuteman. These near-term concerns include the likely renegotiation of START, thereby raising the possibility of complications, delays, and uncertainties, as well as the political, economic, and procedural difficulties of introducing new and secure operational bases for strategic missiles.
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U.S. Conventional Prompt Global Strike: Issues for 2008 and Beyond Reduction Treaty (START) of 1991 because (1) the INF Treaty applies only to ground-launched missiles, and (2) even though the START rules for counting compliance with its limits on missiles, launchers, and warheads would apply to CTM and CTM-2, total planned U.S. deployments of systems subject to those limits are sufficiently below START limits to allow for the envisaged deployments of CTM or CTM-2. Other CPGS systems could raise arms control issues if the INF Treaty and START remain in force or are renegotiated without including provisions that would permit the deployment of these systems. 6. Should the United States Proceed with Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation of the CTM Program and, Ultimately, with CTM Production and Deployment? As indicated earlier, the committee believes that there exist plausible scenarios in which CTM would be a valuable and reasonably early addition to U.S. military capabilities, and that CTM should be deployed as quickly as possible, provided that the system’s planned effectiveness is demonstrated in tests and that international and political concerns are appropriately mitigated and managed. Accordingly, the committee believes that the United States should proceed with CTM RDT&E to demonstrate system effectiveness (especially with respect to achieving accuracy on the order of meters and lethal effects on the classes of targets of interest), while concurrently pursuing cooperative measures by which to address and mitigate the concerns of Russia and other countries. The committee believes also that the proposed RDT&E program for CTM should be expanded to include the consideration of reentry vehicles capable of diving vertically (in order to attack targets located, for example, on the far side of hills or buildings). Full-scale production and deployment of CTM should proceed only after tests have confirmed that the projected effectiveness of the system has been achieved. As for the potential for meeting challenges facing CTM, the committee believes (1) that deployment of CTM (i.e., a total of 24 Trident II [D5] missiles converted from nuclear-armed to conventionally armed) would not adversely affect the nation’s nuclear deterrent for the foreseeable future; (2) that the Navy has proposed reasonable technical and procedural safeguards against accidental or mistaken launch of a nuclear-armed Trident missile from an SSBN loaded with both nuclear-armed and conventionally armed missiles (and that these safeguards should be strengthened even further in accordance with lessons learned from the Air Force incident in 2007 involving the mistaken transport of nuclear-armed cruise missiles on a B-52 bomber,16 and that these safeguards should be tested to ensure their effectiveness); (3) that because the fall of early rocket stages from 16 Joby Warrick and Walter Pincus. 2007. “Missteps in the Bunker,” Washington Post, September 23.
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U.S. Conventional Prompt Global Strike: Issues for 2008 and Beyond the CTM would be predictable, any issues associated with overflight could be adequately taken into account by decision makers; (4) that CTM would survive and penetrate likely missile defenses for the foreseeable future; and (5) that the nuclear ambiguity problem inherent in CPGS systems can be adequately managed in the case of CTM. Finally, the committee notes that CTM, in comparison with alternative CPGS systems under consideration by the DOD and Congress, would be available significantly sooner, with far less cost and far less development risk and uncertainty. Major Finding 6. The military and political issues associated with CTM appear to be manageable. The CTM research, development, testing, and evaluation (RDT&E) program would be useful not only in demonstrating the effectiveness of CTM as a precondition to full-scale production and deployment, but also in providing technology and flight experience for more advanced CPGS systems. Failure to proceed with CTM RDT&E could significantly delay progress on other CPGS systems. 7. Should the United States Proceed with the Development and Testing of Alternative CPGS Systems Beyond CTM? CPGS options employing SLBMs are attractive in the near term (CTM), mid-term (CTM-2), and long term (SLGSM) and offer evolutionary paths that balance technical risk with the rapid fielding of improved capabilities.17 In the long term, boost-glide missiles and hypersonic cruise missiles offer versatile capabilities, but they have high cost and high technical risk and may be less able than ballistic missiles are to penetrate defenses. Land-based ballistic missile options offer little that SLBMs do not, but their higher payloads would enable them to carry conventional warheads better suited to attacking some hard targets, albeit with larger technical risk in obtaining the necessary targeting accuracy. The committee believes that the United States should proceed with technology development to support the mid- and long-term CPGS options; however, any decisions to proceed with full-scale testing or beyond should be made in the 17 Whether a growth path from CTM or a first-step development itself, the CTM-2 concept would be a significant advance beyond CTM because it would have greater payload capacity. It seems possible that CTM-2 could be available in 5 to 6 years from program start, although a full engineering analysis of the option would be needed to confirm the timescale. CTM-2’s two-stage propulsion could distinguish it from the three-stage Trident, but with high confidence today probably only when tracked by the United States’ own systems. Some members of the committee felt strongly that if a possible evolutionary path for CTM-2 were taken, the next generation (beyond CTM-2) could incorporate a reentry vehicle that could deliver (yet-to-be-developed) air-breathing vehicles into theater so as to provide capabilities against moving targets and for post-attack assessment and reattack. Such an evolutionary path is an important approach toward balancing technical risk with rapid fielding of improved CPGS capabilities.
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U.S. Conventional Prompt Global Strike: Issues for 2008 and Beyond broader context of the nation’s policy on strategic strike. The policy on strategic strike must be consistent with the U.S. national security strategy, which the next presidential administration will review in 2009. Development and deployment of any CPGS option beyond CTM or CTM-2 would require a very large national investment. Major Finding 7. CTM-2 is worth exploring as a mid-term successor to CTM. Of the long-term alternative CPGS systems, the Submarine-Launched Global Strike Missile (SLGSM) appears to have the lowest technical risk and to offer important capabilities, such as the ability to launch from existing, dedicated, conventional strike platforms (nuclear-powered guided missile submarines, or SSGNs). Boost-glide missiles and hypersonic cruise missiles have higher technical risk but, if demonstrated, could provide some advantages beyond submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs) (e.g., in payload, versatility, and maneuverability). MAJOR RECOMMENDATIONS Based on its analysis of CPGS, the committee offers the following recommendations. Near Term (1 to 2 Years) In the near term (the next 1 to 2 years), the committee recommends that the following be done: Fund CTM research, development, testing, and evaluation (RDT&E) at a level sufficient to achieve early deployment if tests confirm system effectiveness. In parallel, develop doctrine and policies for use of the system, including ensuring the availability of the necessary intelligence and other enablers, and for decision-making procedures. Fund exploration of the potential of CTM-2 and, if it is deemed promising, fund RDT&E for CTM-2. Fund technology development to explore longer-term CPGS weapon delivery options. Initiate programs to improve targeting, planning, and decision making to support CPGS capability, and establish decision points about where to go beyond CTM. Initiate what will likely be a multiyear study of concepts and doctrine for potential larger-scale CPGS deployments, recognizing that going beyond the niche capability anticipated currently would raise profound issues that have not yet been adequately explored and debated.
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U.S. Conventional Prompt Global Strike: Issues for 2008 and Beyond Mid-Term (3 to 5 Years) The committee recommends that for the mid-term (the next 3 to 5 years), the following be carried out: If CTM is demonstrated to be effective, particularly its ability to achieve the necessary accuracy and warhead performance, fund full-scale production and deployment of CTM. If CTM-2 is demonstrated to be significantly more effective than CTM, fund the production and deployment of CTM-2 as a follow-on to CTM. Continue to fund technology development for the more promising longer-term CPGS options. Work with allies, Russia, and others to mitigate policy and international concerns associated with a U.S. CPGS capability, including establishing cooperative measures to reduce ambiguity risks. Conduct a comprehensive examination of strategic strike (nuclear and conventional)—across a full spectrum of scenarios—after review of the national security strategy by the next administration, and determine the implications for the development and possible deployment of advanced CPGS systems and associated enabling systems. Long Term (Beyond 5 Years) The committee recommends that in the long term (beyond 5 years), the following be done: Explore a range of CPGS options and fund RDT&E of the most promising options at levels sufficient to improve weapon effectiveness (especially maneuverability, accuracy, range, and lethality). Continue to work closely with U.S. military and diplomatic representatives, coalition forces, allies, and others to mitigate policy and international concerns as they may arise.