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Afghanistan Success Didn't Help Crusader, Wolfowitz Says

Afghanistan Success Didn't Help Crusader, Wolfowitz Says

By Gerry J. Gilmore, American Forces Press Service.

Washington D.C. -- (AFPS) May 15, 2002 -- The successful use of precision munitions in Afghanistan reinforced DoD's decision to scratch the Army's Crusader artillery system, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz said here today.

Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz (middle) discusses the decision to cancel the Army Crusader artillery system and other issues at a press conference in Washington's National Press Club. The May 15, 2002, event was moderated by Stephen Hess (left) of Washington's Brookings Institution and Marvin Kalb (right) of the Harvard University Kennedy School of Government.

Photo by Gerry J. Gilmore

Wolfowitz took part in a Brookings Institution news conference moderated by Stephen Hess of Brookings and former television reporter Marvin Kalb, now affiliated with the Harvard University Kennedy School of Government.

Laser-guided aerial bombs, such as the Joint Direct Attack Munition, have been used to good effect against the Taliban and al Qaeda in Afghanistan, Wolfowitz said. That success "reinforced" DoD's decision to pass on the Crusader, he said.

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld is slated to appear May 16 before the Senate Armed Services Committee to discuss his decision to ax the Crusader during talks about the fiscal 2003 DoD budget, Wolfowitz said.

Development work on the Crusader began around 1994, but a lot has happened before and since. For example, the U.S. military has increased its use of precision air-delivered weapons -- from 3 percent in Desert Storm to 30 percent in Kosovo to 60 percent so far in Afghanistan.

The American military today is facing similar challenges to transform or modernize itself as it did during the 1920s and 1930s between the world wars, Wolfowitz said. Much of today's military was designed to fight a Cold War opponent in a major land battle. The $11 billion self-propelled Crusader -- which is still on the drawing board with no serviceable prototypes built -- is designed to rapidly shoot 155mm shells at enemy troops as much as 30 miles away.

Envisioned as a replacement for the aging M-109 Paladin self-propelled howitzer series, Wolfowitz called the 40-ton Crusader and its 30-ton support vehicle "a good system -- it's definitely an advance over our current artillery."

However, he continued, the U.S. military is now developing a rapid-deployable force that will rely on airlift capability to quickly deliver troops and equipment to hot spots around the globe.

For example, the Army's transformational 19-ton Stryker multiwheeled armored vehicle can be airlifted. The 70-ton Abrams tank, a Cold-War "legacy" piece of equipment, must be deployed by ship, a much slower process.

In that context, Crusader, weighing in at a total of more than 70 tons, is not the kind of transformational leap in technology the U.S. forces need for the 21st century, Wolfowitz said.

He noted that Excalibur precision-guided artillery munitions and an upgraded Multiple Launch Rocket System could fill the void left by canceling the Crusader. He also suggested that the Future Combat System family of vehicles being developed by the Army might provide a lighter-weight, Crusader-like variant.

In answer to those resistant to military change, Wolfowitz pointed out that some Navy officials 25 years ago were against placing Tomahawk cruise missiles aboard submarines at the expense of torpedoes. Sub-launched Tomahawks have since proved their worth, the deputy defense secretary said.

"In the case of the Crusader (cancellation) we're looking at accelerating precision artillery … which would deliver 10-meter accuracy," Wolfowitz said.

That, in conjunction with an improved rocket delivery system or other transformational weaponry would be "revolutionary," he said.

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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).