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U.S. Conventional Prompt Global Strike: Issues for 2008 and Beyond 1 Introduction The 2006 Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR), conducted internally by the Department of Defense (DOD) to identify military capabilities that would contribute to fulfilling U.S. national security needs, stated the following: To help shape the choices of countries at strategic crossroads, strengthen deterrence, and hedge against future strategic uncertainty, the Department will develop a wider range of conventional and non-kinetic deterrent options while maintaining a robust nuclear deterrent. It will convert a small number of Trident submarine-launched ballistic missiles for use in conventional prompt global strike.1 The 2006 QDR went on to call for the deployment, within 2 years, of an “initial capability to deliver precision-guided conventional warheads using long-range Trident Submarine-Launched Ballistic Missiles.”2 The DOD’s 2007 budget request included $127 million for the Conventional Trident Modification (CTM) program—specifically, for 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, to provide a conventional prompt global strike (CPGS) capability. For the purposes of this report, “conventional” is defined as non-nuclear, “prompt” is defined as striking within 1 hour of launch, and “global strike” is defined as the ability to 1 Department of Defense. 2006. Quadrennial Defense Review Report: February 6, 2006, Washington, D.C., p. 6. 2 Department of Defense. 2006. Quadrennial Defense Review Report: February 6, 2006, Washington, D.C., p. 50.
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U.S. Conventional Prompt Global Strike: Issues for 2008 and Beyond strike anywhere in the world within meters of the target. The United States does not currently have military capabilities consistent with these definitions. The 109th Congress rejected most of the DOD’s 2007 budget request for CTM because of concerns regarding “nuclear ambiguity” associated with CTM (i.e., the risk that an observed launch of a conventionally armed missile might be mistaken for the launch of a nuclear-armed missile), as well as a belief that other CPGS systems might better address some of the military, political, and technical issues surrounding CTM.3 The conference report accompanying Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2007 (Public Law 109-289), requested that the National Academy of Sciences conduct a study “to analyze the mission requirement and, where appropriate, consider and recommend alternatives that meet the prompt global strike mission in the near term (1-2 years), the mid-term (3-5 years), and the long term. The study should include analyses of the military, political and international issues associated with each alternative. The study should consider technology options for achieving desired objectives as well as mitigating policy concerns.”4 In addition, the conference report went on to state that $20 million in research, development, testing, and evaluation (RDT&E)5 would be provided to the Navy for CTM efforts and that “these funds should be used to focus on those developmental items which are common to all the global strike alternatives until the completion of the study and a determination has been made on the best course of action in this matter.”6 After further discussions with congressional staff and DOD officials regarding the origins, scope, timing, and deliverables associated with this congressionally mandated study, the National Research Council (NRC), under the auspices of the Naval Studies Board, established the Committee on Conventional Prompt Global Strike Capability in early 2007 to undertake a 15-month study necessary to produce two reports: (1) an interim letter report summarizing the requirements 3 Furthermore, 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 challenges of ambiguity.” This letter is reproduced in Appendix B. 4 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). 5 RDT&E activities include basic research, applied research, advanced technology development, advanced component development and prototypes, system development and demonstration, management support (e.g., test ranges), and operational system development, according to Department of Defense, 2007, Office of the Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller), DOD Financial Management Regulation, Volume 2B: Budget Formulation and Presentation, July. 6 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).
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U.S. Conventional Prompt Global Strike: Issues for 2008 and Beyond and supporting enablers7 for a CPGS capability, and recommending a near-term option or options to provide this capability; and (2) a comprehensive report that addresses the full terms of reference in the original congressional tasking. After initial data gathering and deliberations, appropriate NRC review, and DOD security review, the committee provided to the Congress in May 2007 its interim letter report, including among its recommendations: In FY 08, fund research, development, testing, and evaluation (RDT&E) efforts associated with CTM at a level sufficient to determine its effectiveness, but in FY 08 withhold funding for full-scale production and deployment (except any that is necessary for testing).8 Subsequently, the committee chair, at the invitation of the House Armed Services Committee, met with congressional representatives in July 2007 to discuss the issues raised in the interim letter report, including the issue of nuclear ambiguity, as well as the report’s key findings and recommendations. In the months during the writing and following the release of its interim letter report, the committee continued gathering information, and in September 2007 it convened to begin drafting its final report.9 At the time of the drafting of this final report, the committee faced uncertainty as to the direction that the Congress would take in 2008 on CPGS, and even more uncertainty as to the levels of funding that the Congress would appropriate for CTM and other specified alternative CPGS systems and for DOD-wide efforts on CPGS in general. As it turned out, the conference report accompanying Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2008 (Public Law 110-116), provided no funding for testing, fabrication, or deployment of CTM, choosing instead to provide $100 million “in a new Prompt Global Strike program element within the Research, Defense, Test and Evaluation, Defense-Wide appropriation only for development of promising conventional prompt global strike technologies” to be managed by the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics.10 The committee disagrees with the congressional decision not to fund testing of CTM in 2008. Indeed, the committee recommends in Chapter 6 (along with additional major recommendations) that Congress should: “Fund CTM RDT&E at a level sufficient to achieve early deployment if tests confirm system effec- 7 “Supporting enablers” include intelligence support, mission planning, target development, and decision making. 8 The committee’s interim letter report is reprinted in Appendix E of this final report. 9 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. 10 Making Appropriations for the Department of Defense for the Fiscal Year Ending September 30, 2008, and for Other Purposes: Conference Report to Accompany H.R. 3222, H. Rept. 110-434. p. 240, 110th Cong., 1st sess. (November 6, 2007).
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U.S. Conventional Prompt Global Strike: Issues for 2008 and Beyond tiveness.” Among the factors leading to the recommendation are that, compared to other CPGS systems, CTM (or a close variant based on the Trident missile, submarine, and associated infrastructure) would be available significantly sooner, at far less cost and with far less development risk and uncertainty. Moreover, a deferral of CTM RDT&E would adversely affect the schedules and development risks associated with other CPGS systems. THE CPGS CAPABILITY GAP 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 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 valuable, 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 time11 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.12 11 “Execution time” is the time between the President’s order to execute the attack and when the target is affected. 12 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 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.13 The growth of sophisticated air defenses might also present problems for forward-deployed forces, unless attacks by those forces were preceded by effective high-volume defense-suppression attacks. 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 close enough 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 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. CONVENTIONAL TRIDENT MODIFICATION AND SOME CPGS ALTERNATIVES 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 to consist of CTM, with a projected fiscal year (FY) 2010 initial operational capability (IOC)14 (based on FY 2008 funding); a Conventional Strike Missile (CSM) 13 The hypothetical operational scenarios outlining the need for a CPGS capability call into question the capability of current command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (C4ISR) systems and architecture to support a CPGS weapon. Additional discussion of these supporting capabilities and their critical role in enabling a reliable and effective CPGS capability is provided in Chapters 2 and 3 of this report. 14 “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).
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U.S. Conventional Prompt Global Strike: Issues for 2008 and Beyond 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, all of which are summarized and analyzed in this report.15 Table 1-1 summarizes some of the key attributes of each of these seven alternatives. ORGANIZATION OF THE REPORT The remaining chapters of this report provide detailed analyses and thorough discussion of the military issues; the political, international, policy, and doctrinal issues; and the technical issues raised by conventional prompt global strike. Chapter 2 begins by defining CPGS and what that definition entails. It then provides a set of scenario classes identified by the committee, along with a list of attributes and test cases for comparing CPGS options. Chapter 2 elaborates the representative set of seven CPGS alternatives reviewed by the committee, along with corresponding analyses and assessments of those alternatives in the context of the scenario classes provided. It concludes by discussing some of the enablers (e.g., command and control, accuracy, targeting) associated with CPGS, as well as surety and safeguard needs. Chapter 3 discusses the political, international, policy, and doctrinal issues raised by conventional prompt global strike. Among the topics addressed are command and control for CPGS and the requirement of presidential authorization for its use, the potential for inappropriate or mistaken use of CPGS by the United States, the impact of CPGS on the nation’s nuclear deterrent and on stability, and the issue of nuclear ambiguity. Chapter 4 begins with a discussion of the key technical requirements and needs for CPGS with respect to potential targets. The chapter goes on to address the major technology challenges presented by CTM and by the CPGS alternatives reviewed by the committee: these challenges include thermal protection; accuracy of guidance, navigation, and control; and munitions, sensors, and interrelated needs such as in-flight communications. Chapter 4 concludes with a summary of the technology readiness levels and corresponding time frames for CTM and other CPGS systems. Chapter 5 provides a synthesis of the assessments of military issues; political, 15 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 felt it appropriate in some cases, such as in the case of CTM and CSM, to modify of 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 TABLE 1-1 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) Minotaur IIIf >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 international, policy, and doctrinal issues; and technical issues presented in earlier chapters. It also discusses the advantages and disadvantages of each CPGS option. Chapter 6 addresses seven key questions framing the issues associated with the development and deployment of a CPGS capability. The questions posed by the committee are as follows: 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) program and, ultimately, with CTM production and deployment? Should the United States proceed with the development and testing of alternative CPGS systems beyond CTM? The discussion of these issues in Chapter 6 incorporates the report’s major findings and is followed by the committee’s recommendations. Appendix A provides a list of acronyms and abbreviations used throughout the report. Appendix B contains the letter from Senators Inouye and Stevens to Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone. Appendixes C through F, respectively, provide biographies of the members of the committee, its statement of task, a copy of the committee’s interim letter report, and a summary of the committee meeting agendas. Additional background information on the calculations on boost-glide systems, discussion of cooperative reduction of nuclear ambiguity, and evaluation of the Minuteman option for CPGS are provided in Appendixes G through I, respectively.