The Department of Defense (DOD) needs to better coordinate which weapons systems should be used, and how they would be selected, for employment in global strike operations, including Prompt Global Strike, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) stated.

“While DOD studies and officials recognize a need for a broad, holistic view of global strike development, DOD has not identified and assessed all global-strike-related capabilities and technologies,” according to the GAO report.

It was compiled for Rep. Ellen O. Tauscher (D-Calif.), chair of the House Armed Services Committee strategic forces subcommittee; Rep. Terry Everett of Alabama, the ranking Republican on the panel, and Rep. Silvestre Reyes (D-Texas), a subcommittee member.

Prompt Global Strike could include missiles tipped with conventional munitions that would be fired from Navy ballistic missile submarines and strike targets anywhere on the planet in an hour or less. Critics of that system worry that such conventional missiles might be mistaken by a U.S. adversary as the U.S. launch of a nuclear attack.

“DOD has taken a number of steps to implement its global strike concept and has generally assigned responsibilities for the planning, execution, and support of global strike operations,” the GAO watchdog agency conceded.

“However, key stakeholders, particularly the geographic combatant commanders, have different interpretations of the concept, scope, range, and potential use of capabilities needed to implement global strike.”

The GAO found that DOD has made some progress here.

“DOD has underway or completed several global strike assessments to identify potential conventional offensive strike weapons systems, particularly those for prompt global strike, which would provide capabilities sometime after 2018,” the GAO noted. “However, DOD has not fully assessed the requirements or coordinated improvements for related enabling capabilities that are critical to the planning and execution of successful global strike operations.

“These critical enabling capabilities include intelligence collection and dissemination, surveillance and reconnaissance, and command and control, communications, and battlefield damage assessment.

“Furthermore, DOD has not coordinated its efforts to improve these capabilities with potential offensive systems it intends to develop. Without fully assessing the enabling capabilities required or coordinating with other DOD studies, DOD might not make the best decision of which enabling capability to pursue in meeting global strike requirements,” the GAO cautioned.

The report titled “Military Transformation: DOD Needs to Strengthen Implementation of Its Global Strike Concept and Provide a Comprehensive Investment Approach for Acquiring Needed Capabilities” can be viewed in full at on the Web, clicking on report GAO 08-325.