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Crusader Not 'Truly Transformational,' Rumsfeld Says

Crusader Not 'Truly Transformational,' Rumsfeld Says

By Gerry J. Gilmore, American Forces Press Service.

Washington D.C. -- (AFPS) May 16, 2002 -- Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld told Senate Armed Services Committee members today that the Crusader is a good artillery system that doesn't fit DoD's vision of future forces.

Rumsfeld pointed out to committee members that he is carrying out President Bush's directives as outlined in the 1999 Citadel speech to transform the U.S. military to meet anticipated 21st century threats. At the time, Bush was a presidential candidate; his speech has been called his blueprint for defense policies and plans.

Future warfighting strategy involves using lighter-weight, rapidly deployable forces in combined arms operations in conjunction with air- and indirect-artillery-delivered precision munitions, as the Joint Direct Attack Munition used in Afghanistan.

The Crusader, Rumsfeld noted, may achieve a higher rate of fire and better maneuverability than the M-109 Paladin self-propelled howitzer it is envisioned to replace, but it lacks the transformational element of precision fire.

Precision was not part of the picture when the Crusader was designed, Rumsfeld said.

Money saved by canceling the Crusader, he continued, should be invested to achieve truly transformational capabilities such as increased accuracy, more rapid deployability, and the ability to network artillery fire that will make the Army's indirect fire systems effective and relevant on the battlefields of the 21st century.

"We have growing expertise in precision guidance systems and we're using them to great effect" in Afghanistan, the defense secretary said.

In Afghanistan, it was found that "precision matters, and it matters a lot," Rumsfeld said. Besides achieving better accuracy, he noted, use of precision munitions reduced the incidence of military "friendly fire" losses and civilian casualties. About 65 percent of U.S. munitions used in Afghanistan were precision-guided, he remarked.

Precision munitions enabled U.S. Special Forces on the ground in Afghanistan to call in "long-range bombers to provide tactical, close-air support," Rumsfeld noted, adding, "This had never been done before."

The self-propelled Crusader is also woefully heavy and can't be deployed quickly via air transport in suitable numbers to global hot spots. The weight of one Crusader "package" for airlift is 97 tons, Rumsfeld noted, which includes crew, ammo and a 30-ton logistics carrier.

At that weight, it would take up to 64 C-17 transport aircraft to deploy just 18 Crusaders, Rumsfeld said.

Crusader alternatives like Excalibur precision-guided munitions and an upgraded Multiple Launch Rocket System "can offer greater improvements in precision and range and deploy ability," he said.

"We believe that by foregoing the Crusader we have the opportunity to produce more advanced capabilities and ensure their earlier integration into the Army," he added.

Rumsfeld said Crusader technology could be applied to the Army's Future Combat System family of vehicles, and possibly, a future Navy gun system.

The accelerated use of precision rounds for indirect artillery fire, like the Excalibur under development, would increase the overall capability of our forces more than the procurement of the 480 Crusaders," he said.

Not adopting the Crusader "does not put U.S. forces at risk," as some people have suggested, Rumsfeld said, adding, "we can reduce future risk by speeding the introduction of critical new capabilities."

He said the cancellation of Crusader is an investment in the future Army "in integrated combined arms, greater deployability, and lethality."

Rumsfeld noted that the U.S. military is working to achieve technological and cultural transformation to meet future threats. Crusader, he added, "would have represented a way station in that change process."

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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).