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We Must Transform America's Armed Forces

We Must Transform America's Armed Forces

Source: News Transcript from the United States Department of Defense. DoD News Briefing: Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, Monday, April 26, 2002. Also participating was Secretary of the Army Thomas E. White.

Wolfowitz: Thank you, Mr. Secretary. Yesterday I was privileged to be part of the dedication of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building with President Bush and Secretary Powell and Susan Eisenhower. And everyone who spoke commented on Eisenhower's influence in shaping and transforming the Army; indeed, his lasting impact on all the armed forces. When Secretary Powell reflected on Eisenhower's certainty that the country had to, quote, "rebuild and transform our armed forces" in the period between the wars, he told us that Ike's determination to see that transformation happen and the effect the transformational systems and thought had on the outcome of World War II influenced him as a young officer in Vietnam. In fact, Ike's example inspired Colin Powell to stay in the Army because, like Eisenhower, he was convinced that it was important to begin a renewal of the armed forces in the 1970s.

As Secretary Rumsfeld has said many times, we face a similar imperative today. We must transform America's armed forces. And it's in that context that we've made this decision on Crusader. Let me tell you a little bit more about our thinking on Crusader.

In preparing the defense planning guidance for Fiscal Year[s] '04- '09 we came to the conclusion that we need to shift some investment dollars to prepare the Army to meet future security challenges. Land warfare will continue to be a critical part of our defense strategy. And there's a vital role for accurate artillery in establishing battlefield dominance. We want Army weapons systems to support a transformed Army that is more mobile, lethal and deployable across a wide range of future contingencies. Precision fire has proved to be one of the most transformational improvements in modern warfare. We just had another demonstration of that in Afghanistan. In addition, the Army has an ambitious and well-conceived program to develop a more rapidly deployable lethal transformation force. We must invest in innovative technologies and ideas that represent the future of battlefield technology for indirect fire.

Accordingly, the secretary has decided and the president has agreed to recommend to the Congress an amendment to the '03 budget request to terminate the Crusader program and to re-allocate the funds from Crusader to more transformational programs. We are working with the Army to prepare the details of an amended budget request, which we will be submitting no later than May 20th.

This decision is not about killing a bad system. This decision is about canceling a system originally designed for a different strategic context, to make room for more promising technologies that offer greater payoffs and are more consistent with the Army's overall transformation effort.

We are working with the Army on the details of where we would propose to reallocate their Crusader funding. However, the emphasis will be on those systems and technologies that provide greater precision, more rapid deployability, and the ability to integrate fires.

I'd ask Tom White, if you want to make a comment, Tom.

White: Well, I would say three things.

First thing is that the secretary has made a decision, and the Army will work hard to execute that decision, period, full stop.

The second is that the requirement for indirect fire systems to support the United States Army, as the deputy secretary has suggested, across the full spectrum of conflict, 24/7, all weather, tactical operational ranges, precise and mass targets, continues. And that requirement is valid and has to be met.

And so the third part of it is that we will now, in the absence of Crusader, put together programs and structure and so forth to satisfy that requirement through a different combination of programs. And it's the details of all that that we are currently working on.

Wolfowitz: Charlie?

Question: Mr. Secretary has the need for artillery -- meaning an artillery gun -- gone away?Are you just talking about a lighter-weight, more mobile, more accurate weapon? Is that what you're --

Wolfowitz: The need for artillery has definitely not gone away. We need precise fires. The benefits of organic fire are very clear. What are hoping to do with this decision is to accelerate our ability to have very precise artillery fires and to accelerate that transformation the Army has correctly identified of a more rapidly deployable, more highly networked force.

Question: By this you mean lighter gun, one that's more easily moved?

Wolfowitz: Lighter vehicles.

Question: Mr. Secretary, in a sense a follow-up, but not really. And I have a question for the secretary of the Army, if I may, afterwards. But to you, it seems to those of us who are unsophisticated about this that the Crusader tended to fly in the face of what Army Chief of Staff General Shinseki had been saying for a couple years, which was that he wanted to transform the Army into a force that was more mobile, lethal and also highly transportable in C-130s and in C-117s. It's my understanding the Crusader was too big, too heavy to be transported in anything less than a C-141. Wasn't there a major disconnect there?

And then, if I could follow with the secretary's question, I'd appreciate it.

Wolfowitz: Look, I think there's a fundamental point that -- it's hard to explain but important to try and understand. And that is that the Army, like all Department of Defense, has to do a lot of different things at once. We've got to be fighting a war in Afghanistan today. We've got to prepare to fight wars that might take place next year or the year after. And we have to begin building those forces that will give us the capabilities we require in the next decade.

And that's one of the reasons why there's not a recipe to answer these questions. The secretary, I think, was pretty eloquent on that a few minutes ago. What this decision reflects is a judgment that we -- it is more important to invest in accelerating those systems that you referred to that will give us truly transformational capabilities at the expense of a good system but a system that was much more of a -- managing an interim kind of risk.

Question: The question to the secretary the other day, which is a little off the mark here, and yet it's related. Many of us thought you'd be toast by now, based on what happened last week.

White: Come on -- (inaudible). (Laughter. )Are you disappointed?(Laughter. )

Question: Not at all. It's part of the game. But I would ask you a ethical question, if I may.

White: Sure.

Question: You were criticized for not divesting yourself of your Enron stock in an orderly, timely fashion. You were also criticized for taking military air on a couple of occasions -- one to go to Aspen to sell a house. As you look back on that, even though those perhaps were not illegal, do you think maybe it was a mistake to have done that?Would you have done it differently or not have done it?

White: Well, I suppose any time we go through a period like that and we generate the interest that it did, you look back on those circumstances and you think about things you'd would have done differently, and I guess I would've, yes.

(Cross talk. )

Wolfowitz: Can I -- let me say something. I mean, you have two people here who care deeply about defense, who care deeply about the Army. We've had somewhat different views. We've had some pretty stormy debates.

White: We have, yes.

Wolfowitz: At the end of the day, we have one commander in chief, and the Army and this whole department follow the commander in chief. And I think that it is -- cannot be stressed strongly enough that Tom is somebody who's been motivated in everything I've seen him do over the last month by concern for the Army and for having a more effective Army -- and I will say the same thing about myself.

(Cross talk. )

Question: As we understand it, the Army inspector general was to have delivered an interim report as to its investigation under the Army's lobbying campaign on behalf of the Crusader. Have you received that report?

Wolfowitz: That report isn't --

Question: And does it indicate any wrongdoing on the part of anybody in the U. S. --

White: It hasn't been completed yet. We expect it, I think, shortly.

Question: If I could just follow up --

Question: (Inaudible) -- see that interim report from the inspector general?

Wolfowitz: We discussed where the initial conclusions stand, but we have not received a final report.

Question: Let me just put the question more directly to Secretary White. The Army's talking points that were faxed up to the Hill --

White: Right.

Question: -- contained some language that was --

White: Offensive.

Question: -- offensive, to use your word. Do you regret that?Were you in any way responsible for that?And have you held anyone accountable for that?

White: Well, the IG report that we will submit to the Secretary of Defense shortly will summarize all that. And I don't want to preempt the submission of that to the Secretary of Defense. I would just like to say that the comments in the talking points were offensive to me, offensive to the United States Army, did not reflect our position at all, and when we complete the report and discuss it with the Secretary of Defense, appropriate action will be taken.

Question: Secretary White?

Question: Secretary White, did you tell others to stop lobbying for the Crusader once you were told it would probably be killed?Is that a message you sent out throughout the Army?

White: I was told -- well, let's be very, very clear. I was told yesterday at 1: 30 in the afternoon what the decision was on Crusader. Up until that time, the Army, as all the services do, worked very hard to support the President's budget, and the President's budget submission included support of the Crusader program. Now the decision has been made, and the Army is moving out to execute that decision.

Question: What about the 30 days you were given?What was that for? You weren't told that the program would probably be terminated by Secretary Wolfowitz?

White: No, I think that had to do with the context of the development of Defense Planning Guidance for '04-'09, that Secretary Rumsfeld mentioned. And yesterday a final decision was reached and I was informed of that decision. And the Army will execute that decision.

Question: Mr. Secretary --

Question: Mr. Secretary, I wanted to pull back a second on the context in which the Crusader was cancelled. You were one of the original Vulcans in the presidential campaign that came up with the line "skipping a generation of technology. "Given that the Crusader was meant as an interim system until the future combat system came out later this decade, is this not an example of skipping a generation to get to a better technology?Would that be a proper way to look at this?

Wolfowitz: I don't know that I want to put a bumper sticker on it. I think it is, as I said a few minutes ago, it is a decision to accelerate some of these more advanced technologies, and at the cost of a system that we would like to have. If resources were infinite, there's no question we'd go ahead with Crusader and we'd go ahead with these other things. Some of them are future generation; in that sense you might say we're skipping a generation. Some of them we think -- like more accurate artillery rounds -- are actually things that might come in even in the same time frame or possibly even earlier than Crusader.

Question: Secretary White?

Question: So it's a fair -- it's a fair point, the point to say this is an example of what candidate Bush said two years ago with --

Wolfowitz: But I -- I really would emphasize -- you know, we -- when we came into office, we started looking at things afresh, we looked at facts. In fact, we put Crusader into the '03 budget because we decided that Army had made a lot of valuable changes to it, particularly reducing the weight.

But as we got into the Defense Planning Guidance for '04 and beyond, and began to see how resources are going to start competing with each other even more sharply in those outyears, and looking at the potential benefits of things like precision, I'd say particularly precision, which has been revolutionary in its effects, the conclusion was made that in judging these risks, in weighing these risks, it was better to invest in the future.

Question: Secretary White, the people who wrote these talking points work for you.

White: Right.

Question: What happened to "the buck stops here"?Do you take any responsibility for --

Wolfowitz: Can I just say, we're -- we said there's going to be an IG report delivered this afternoon. We're not about to decide what we do about anybody until that's done. So --

Question: I'm not asking you to -- I'm not asking you to tell me what's in the IG report. I want to know whether you, as the Secretary of the Army, take responsibility as the boss for this --

White: I'm accountable to the United States Army. That's my job.

Question: Mr. Wolfowitz, your dealings with the members of Congress on this, a member deeply interested in it has told one of my colleagues that the weekend before the HASC marked up, he had a conversation with you, "What's going on with the Crusader?"You said this is a study that's all it is; it may wind up recommending more Crusaders. You did not at any point suggest to this member that the result might be zero. Would you care to --

Wolfowitz: The more we have studied this issue, the more it became clear to us that we were reaching conclusions that were better made sooner rather than later. It comes at an awkward time, we know that; but we felt, given where we were with our judgments, it would not have been responsible to let Congress proceed on the basis of thinking that we had already gone beyond.

Question: Secretary White?

Question: Secretary White?Could you clear up one thing, Secretary White?Over the last week there's been a lot of stories that implied once you talked to Wolfowitz, you scurried to the phone and called Watts and Inhofe and other supporters to blab, basically, that the system was in trouble. Can you clarify --

White: Yeah, thanks for that very blunt and direct question. (Laughter. )The answer to it is, what you just said is nonsense. I didn't initiate a single phone call to a member of Congress on Crusader at any point subsequent to my discussions with Secretary Wolfowitz.

Question: Did they call you?

Question: (Inaudible. )

Wolfowitz: Okay, go back. In back.

We're going to run out of time here.

In back.

Question: The criticisms of the Crusader are certainly not new, and neither are the defenses of it. Is there something that came up in the last few weeks in terms of changing budget figures that affected your decision to move like this so precipitously?

Wolfowitz: There's no brand new individual fact, as the secretary -- again, I'll go back to what he said, and he said it more eloquently than I think I'll be able to. You wrestle with these decisions; there are a lot of different priorities to weigh. I think the kinds of things that began to weigh in the last few months were both what I referred to as the spending priorities that we confront in the years beyond the current FYDP and secondly, the better understanding, as I would put it, of some of the alternative technologies, some of the alternatives -- (cross talk) -- I'll take about two more.

Question: Mr. Secretary, may I ask -- what I would like to ask is, what are your thoughts about Secretary White's future as the head of this service?And Secretary White, since you also said you are accountable for people in your staff, how do you see your future as head of the service?

Wolfowitz: The Secretary has indicated, I think regularly, that he has great confidence in Tom, and so do I. And I think he is an outstanding Secretary of the Army, perhaps the best we've ever had.

White: Thank you. I don't have anything to add to that. (Laughter. )

Question: Secretary Wolfowitz, could you talk a little more -- you seem to be vague about where the United States is heading after Crusader. You talked about accurate artillery, more transformational programs. Can you be any more specific --

Wolfowitz: The reason I have -- the reason for the vagueness is because -- and this also relates to the original idea of 30 days -- is that we have one notion, which is quite specific, but we need to work with the Army on whether that's the right notion. We decided, given the exigencies -- given the demands of the congressional timetable, we're going to try to get this done by --

Question: What about the Excalibur artillery shell?Do you hope to accelerate that, for example?

Wolfowitz: That would be an example. I'm not going to say -- examples would be accelerating the Excalibur, accelerating the guided MLRS [Multiple Launch Rocket System], accelerating HIMARS [High Mobility Artillery Rocket System] -- (cross talk) -- accelerating HIMARS, accelerating the non-line-of-sight version of the FCS [Future Combat System].

Question: If I could say to Secretary White --

White: Yes.

Question: Earlier this week in an interview, you said, "We must have the mobility, the rate of fire, the precision and the range represented by Crusader. "The --

White: But -- that's the requirement.

Question: Right. The --

White: And what we have to do is look at the programs, includingthe ones that Secretary Wolfowitz just talked about, against that requirement and figure out where we're going. And that's the work we have to do.

Question: The attributes you talked about -- can they be achieved by the programs the Secretary talked about?

White: I don't know. That's what we're going to have to find out.

Question: Well, Secretary White --

Wolfowitz: This is going to have to be the last one.

Question: Secretary White, you indicated in your previous answer that -- you seemed to say that it was okay for the Army to fight for the Crusader, in that it was still in the President's budget --

White: Right.

Question: -- and that the final decision came down yesterday,. Surely last week you had an indication that the Crusader was going to be killed, and so did your people. Is that not true?

White: We don't operate on indications. We either have a President's -- whatever the President's decision is, is what we support. And as of last week, because there's a mark going on and because the Congress is in the throes of asking us our views in support of the President's budget, we support religiously the President's budget. And we will support religiously the amendment to the President's budget that reflects the decision that was just made.

Question: Mr. Secretary, did you agree with --

Wolfowitz: Tom has already made it absolutely clear that the talking points do not reflect his views. I think that is important. (Cross talk. )Thank you very much.

This transcript was prepared by the Federal News Service Inc. , Washington, D. C. Federal News Service is a private company for other Defense related transcripts not available through this site, contact (202) 347-1400.


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Directeur de la publication : Joël-François Dumont
Comité de rédaction : Jacques de Lestapis, Hugues Dumont, François de Vries (Bruxelles), Hans-Ulrich Helfer (Suisse), Michael Hellerforth (Allemagne).
Comité militaire : VAE Guy Labouérie (†), GAA François Mermet (2S), CF Patrice Théry (Asie).