In a new paper, the Congressional Research Service is unwavering in its view that a conventional ICBM would be of little value. As it did last fall, CRS notes that lawmakers and others maintain skepticism due to the historic association of the missiles with nuclear strike, despite the Pentagon’s push toward new “prompt global strike” platforms. CRS does credit the Air Force for attempting to reduce the once-a-nuke-always-a-nuke attitude by developing alternative basing and cooperative measures. CRS also notes that USAF would rename the ICBMs—retired Minuteman and Peacekeeper missiles—used in a conventional mode as Minotaur II and Minotaur III. Despite offering a low-cost, near-term solution for prompt global strike, CRS maintains conventional ICBMs “might provide the United States with more capability than it needs under most circumstances, while, at the same time, raising the possibility that their use might be misinterpreted.”
U.S. Air Force F-35s and F-22s regularly deploy deep into the Pacific region from Alaska, Utah, and Hawaii. In the future, though, the head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command would like to see the Air Force permanently station fifth-generation aircraft west of the international date line—closer to China.