Conventional Thinking

The Defense Department plans to invest “well over $1 billion” for research and development of conventional prompt global strike capabilities over the five-year period starting with Fiscal 2011. The State Department has released this information as part of the Obama Administration’s push for Senate ratification of New START during the lame-duck session of Congress. The Administration is making the argument that New START would not place constraints on the United States’ ability to develop and field conventional PGS systems. However, conventionally armed ICBMs that fly a traditional trajectory would be accountable under New START counting rules. DOD is currently conducting a study of long-range strike options, including conventional PGS. The study results will be reflected in DOD’s Fiscal 2012 budget submission, according to the State Department’s release. Defense planners envision conventional PGS systems striking high-value targets with precision anywhere in the world in less than an hour.