Conventional Prompt Global Strike and Long-Range Ballistic Missiles: Background and Issues [April 21, 2011] [open pdf - 371KB]
"In 2003, the Department of Defense (DOD) specifically identified a new mission--prompt global strike (PGS)--that sought to provide the United States with the ability to strike targets anywhere on earth with conventional weapons in as little as an hour, without relying on forward based forces. DOD argued that this capability would bolster U.S. efforts to deter and defeat adversaries by providing the United States with the ability to attack high-value targets or 'fleeting targets' that might be visible for only a short amount of time promptly, at the start of or during a conflict. DOD is considering a number of systems that might provide the United States with long-range strike capabilities. These include bombers, cruise missiles, and ballistic missiles. Congress has generally supported the rationale for the PGS mission, but it has restricted funding and suggested changes in the direction of specific programs. [...] The Obama Administration, in the 2010 Nuclear Posture Review [NPR], also emphasized the role that long-range, non-nuclear systems could play in supporting 'U.S. regional deterrence and reassurance goals.' The 2010 NPR indicated that conventional power projection capabilities were part of 'effective regional security architectures,' arguing that these capabilities could help the United States assure and defend its allies, while reducing the role of nuclear weapons in U.S. security strategy. [...] This report provides an overview of the rationale for the PGS mission and the possible deployment of conventional warheads on long-range ballistic missiles in support of this mission. It then reviews the Air Force and Navy efforts to develop these systems. It summarizes congressional reaction to these proposals, then provides a more detailed account of the issues raised by these concepts and programs."
CRS Report for Congress, R41464