To Be Global Strike, or Not

According to the Government Accountability Office, the US military has one too many interpretations of the terms “global strike” and “prompt global strike” and the Pentagon agrees. A newly issued GAO report to Congress cites confusion among key stakeholders, “particularly the geographic combatant commanders [who] have different interpretations of the concept, scope, range, and potential use of capabilities needed to implement global strike. Leading the way for DOD in this arena is US Strategic Command, whose boss Air Force Gen. Kevin Chilton told defense reporters earlier this year that an analysis of alternatives for the conventional prompt global strike element would go to the Joint Requirements Oversight Council this summer. Among eight recommendations in its report, GAO includes improving communications and understanding among stakeholders; adding a “detailed discussion” to joint doctrine publications; adding global strike to major joint exercises; assessing any and all related enabling technologies; and integrating ongoing global strike studies into a “prioritized investment strategy.” GAO further states that enabling capabilities include “intelligence collection and dissemination, surveillance and reconnaissance, and command and control, communications, and battlefield damage assessment.” GOA deems these supporting capabilities “critical,” but it notes that “several defense officials” believe they are not getting the attention required because of “assumptions that the capabilities will be available” or, surprisingly, because “study staff do not have the clearances needed to access information” on these capabilities.