Conventionalizing Deterrence? U.S. Prompt Strike Programs and Their Limits Proliferation Papers, No. 52, January 2015
About a decade ago, the U.S. started to examine options to develop and acquire Conventional Prompt Global Strike capabilities. This move fits in an effort to conventionalize deterrence, an effort initiated decades before and undertaken for profound and diverse motives. Although it has been renewed under the Obama administration, which aims to reduce the U.S. reliance on nuclear weapons, this ambition has resulted in very little concrete progress.
Budget cuts to defense spending and technological obstacles have forced the Pentagon to scale back its plans in terms of conventional strategic strike programs. Despite these setbacks, ten years from now the U.S. may well possess a conventional prompt strike capability in its arsenal. As a consequence, this paper also highlights some longer-term, operational and strategic issues that might arise from a context of crisis or war in which prompt strike capabilities could be used, and attempts to shed new light on the potential values these capabilities might have for U.S. national security.