Policy Memos

Russia and the Prompt Global Strike Plan

Policy Memo:


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Prompt Global Strike is a concept the U.S. military has been developing since the start of the decade. Its goal is to give the U.S. military the capability to attack targets anywhere in the world at very short notice. The weapons most able to support a mission like this are intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) and sea-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs), capable of reaching almost any target in thirty minutes or less.

As the first step toward achieving prompt global-strike capability, the U.S. Strategic Command (STRATCOM), which has responsibility for the project, plans to deploy two conventionally-armed SLBMs, alongside 22 nuclear-armed missiles, on each of twelve currently operational strategic submarines. The Bush administration requested $127 million in the 2007 fiscal year to begin the project, with the goal of having “near-term capability” by 2011. Congress, however, rejected most of the request, allocating only $5 million to study the concept further. The option of fitting land-based Minuteman ICBMs with conventional warheads has also been considered, but no practical steps have been taken in this direction. [...]

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About the author

Director, Russian Nuclear Forces Project
Russian Nuclear Forces Project, Geneva; UN Institute for Disarmament Research; Program on Science and Global Security, Princeton University