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Posted: 5/3/2002 8:44:03 AM EDT
Los Angeles Times: Arms Issue May Sink Army Chief http://www.latimes.com/news/printedition/front/la-050302white.story?coll=la%2Dhome%2Dtodays%2Dtimes Arms Issue May Sink Army Chief Military: Move to save endangered Crusader system angers Rumsfeld. Secretary White's job appears to be at risk. By GREG MILLER and JOHN HENDREN Times Staff Writers May 3 2002 WASHINGTON -- Army Secretary Thomas E. White's tenuous grip on his job appeared to slip further Thursday after Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld scolded Army leadership for going behind his back to Congress to save an endangered weapon program. Rumsfeld said the Pentagon is looking into reports that Army leaders lobbied lawmakers in recent days to salvage an arms system that the Defense secretary and his top deputy are poised to scrap. In characteristic language, Rumsfeld said he would have "a minimum of high regard" for such behavior, a swipe aimed at least in part at White, who is fighting to save the Crusader artillery system from budget cuts. And even as top lawmakers vowed to work with leaders in the Pentagon to save the $11-billion program, Rumsfeld made it clear he expects Army leaders to fall in line. A Defense secretary ought to "be able to expect that the leadership and overwhelming majority [of the Army] will in fact be supportive," Rumsfeld said. Rumsfeld's comments cast further doubt on the job security of White, already in some peril because of questions about ties to his former employer, Enron Corp., and his recent use of military aircraft for personal business. As recently as last week, White was taking credit for having persuaded Rumsfeld to spare the Crusader system from cuts--a seeming success that many interpreted as a sign that White's standing in the Pentagon remained solid. White, a retired general, was unavailable for comment. An Army spokesperson would say only that the secretary "is still firmly committed to serving the Army." Several officials in the Pentagon and on Capitol Hill said the flare-up could bring White's troubles to the tipping point. "The scuttlebutt has been for a long time that they are looking for a way to get rid of White," said a congressional source familiar with defense issues. Rumsfeld has shown little patience for subordinates who voice dissent on Capitol Hill. An assistant Army secretary, Mike Parker, was fired in March after criticizing another budget proposal. -- continued --
Link Posted: 5/3/2002 8:44:59 AM EDT
But others suggested that the Crusader fight could boost White's position by aligning him with influential members of Congress. "I think [White's job] is in less jeopardy because the support the Crusader has had on the Hill in the last 24 hours would seem to support Secretary White's position, not diminish it," said one senior Pentagon official who asked not to be identified. Among the key backers of the Crusader are Sen. Don Nickles and Rep. J.C. Watts, both members of the GOP leadership and both from Oklahoma, where Crusaders would be assembled and based at Ft. Sill. Sen. James M. Inhofe, another Oklahoma Republican, is also fighting to save the program. The latest tussle centers on a high-powered, self-propelled howitzer that is slated to cost $475.2 million in the coming fiscal year. Critics say that it is an outdated weapons platform and that the money would be better spent on unmanned aircraft and other next-generation systems. But backers say it provides three times the firepower of current artillery and can't be replaced by air power. Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz directed White to begin drafting other spending plans "that would assume that Crusader was canceled," Rumsfeld said. Caught off guard, members of Congress desperate to save the program and, apparently, officials from the Army's legislative affairs office, rallied to resist Rumsfeld's plans. Lawmakers reportedly received faxed "talking points" from the Army saying that cutting the Crusader would put soldiers at risk. And the House Armed Services Committee late Wednesday included in a pending defense authorization bill nonbinding language that calls for the continuation of the Crusader. There have also been contacts between White and key lawmakers. A spokesman for Watts said the congressman has had at least two conversations with White in recent weeks, but he would not elaborate. A spokesman for Inhofe said the senator had also spoken to White but that it's "not true" White has lobbied members. If you want other stories on this topic, search the Archives at latimes.com/archives. For information about reprinting this article, go to www.lats.com/rights.
Link Posted: 5/3/2002 12:05:38 PM EDT
There really doesnt seem to be anything wrong with Crusader as far as doing its job goes. The major problem with it is its weight. It weighs as much as a M1 does, pushing hard on 70 tons. How do you get it to a place like Afghanistan? It would be wonderful for fighting in the flat desert in Middle East, but not much use anywhere else.
Link Posted: 5/3/2002 2:23:02 PM EDT
Originally Posted By ArmdLbrl: There really doesnt seem to be anything wrong with Crusader as far as doing its job goes. The major problem with it is its weight. It weighs as much as a M1 does, pushing hard on 70 tons. How do you get it to a place like Afghanistan? It would be wonderful for fighting in the flat desert in Middle East, but not much use anywhere else.
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Maybe it is not the cost of the weapon itself, but the money required to develop the next generation of transport planes to move the thing around. But in the context of stealth fighters and bombers, this weapon would be of limited use, from what I can see. Of course I am not an expert at warfare, the generals must have some battlefield application that is not obvious to me.
Link Posted: 5/4/2002 7:12:54 AM EDT
From a professional prospective, it is a mistake to cancel the crusader. Right now the US is engaged in a limited war, in which use of fires is of limited value. But with the assumption that we will eventually get into a all out war, than you need these types of fire support systems. The current state of US tube artillery is everyone has better than us today. And we shouldn't get too reliant on air as the sole source of fires, you just have to look at the recent CALL making its way around the military. There is a discussion on why we specifically should not rely too heavily on air even in a permissive environment. In operation Anaconda, at the insertion of the 10th Mountain, the one the US took the most causatives at, an aerial prep was planned, however when the CH-47 showed up the prep was still 5 mins out, and the Army was asked to circle for 5-10 minutes. The CO decided to forgo the prep and land because of the danger of circling around the target area for 10 mins.
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