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Fact sheet: The debate over the Crusader

The Crusader
The Crusader  


Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has canceled the Army's $11 billion next-generation artillery system known as the Crusader, a decision supported by President Bush. Rumsfeld said the weapon did not fit into his plans to transform the military with more lethal, more mobile and lighter weapons.

But congressional supporters, particularly those in the states where the weapon would be manufactured and assembled, are vowing to oppose Rumsfeld's decision. The House has ignored the Pentagon's plans and included full funding for the Crusader in its version of the 2003 defense bill.


The White House is standing behind Rumsfeld's decision to kill the program, warning Congress against trying to fund the weapon in defense appropriation bills.

The program's backers in Congress are ignoring the White House and vowing to fund the program. The fight is being led by Oklahoma's congressional delegation, the state where the weapon would be assembled. Oklahoma Rep. J. C. Watts, Jr. said the "unilateral and misguided decision regarding Crusader will be resisted by Congress."

The Senate Armed Services Committee has delayed a decision on whether to cancel the $11 billion Crusader artillery system, saying it first wants Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to explain why he wants to cut the program. (Full story)

  • Summary

  • Update

  • Key questions

  • Who's who

  • Supporters in the Senate have vowed to continue fighting for the weapon. Oklahoma Republican James Inhofe, a member of the Armed Services Committee, said he would not be deterred by the Bush administration's decision. "The fight for Crusader is not just about jobs. It is about our commitment to support what our ground troops -- our war fighters -- need to do their job."

    The House on May 10 passed a nearly $400 billion defense funding bill that included full funding for the Crusader. The House's action does not save the Crusader from Pentagon's ax, but it keeps the debate alive as the Senate takes up the defense bill and negotiations with the White House move ahead. (Full story)

    United Defense Industries, Inc., the Crusader's primary contractor, said the weapon remains on schedule and has exceeded the Army's performance criteria. "We're puzzled as to what has changed since the Administration and Army leadership testified to Congress their support of the Crusader, and particularly since the program was submitted as part of the president's budget," Tom Rabaut, the company's president and CEO, said in a statement.

    The Carlyle Group, an influential and well-connected Washington-D.C.-based private global investment firm, owns more than 50 percent of United Defense Industries.

    The Crusader is planned to be a 40-ton self-propelled, 155 mm howitzer with a computer-automated loading system that allows it to fire up to 10 rounds a minute as far as 25 miles. The weapon was expected to carry a three-person crew and have a maximum speed of 42 miles per hour. The weapon would replace the Army's current 155 mm howitzer, the M109A6 Paladin, which can fire six rounds a minute up to a distance of 18 miles. (More information)

    Rumsfeld and Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz said the decision to cancel the program dealt with finite resources and changed battlefield needs. Wolfowitz said the Crusader was too heavy and lacked precision firing capabilities.

    "This decision is not about any one weapon system, but really about a strategy of warfare, a strategy that drives the choices that we must make about how best to prepare our total forces for the future," Rumsfeld said. (Full story)

    Critics say the 40-ton Crusader is too heavy for the lighter, more mobile forces being crafted to cope with such threats as terrorism, weapons of mass destruction and cyberwarfare. The war in Afghanistan also displayed the precision capabilities of Navy and Air Force bombs, making the Crusader appear less lethal.

    "We want Army weapons systems that are more mobile, lethal and deployable," Wolfowitz said.

    John Pike, a defense analyst with the Virginia-based, said he was "puzzled" by the Pentagon's decision to cancel the program. He said the cancellation would make sense as a part of larger reduction in spending on heavy forces. Pike said the decision may have more to do with politics of the defense budget as the Bush administration is seeking a significant increase in defense spending in the coming budget.

    "It's a little bit easier to get a big increase in the budget if you're cutting something," Pike said.

    Pike also noted the Army has numerous but smaller weapons programs that could be cut in comparison to the relatively few but much larger weapons programs of the Air Force and Navy.

    Some $2 billion has been spent on the Crusader's development since 1994. How the remaining $9 billion would be spent has not been determined.

    The decision also caused some controversy between Rumsfeld and Secretary of the Army Thomas White, who angered Rumsfeld last week after delivering a list of "talking points" to Capitol Hill detailing reasons the Crusader program should be kept alive.

    White continued to endorse the Crusader artillery project to Congress after his boss told him it would be canceled, according to a statement released May 10 by the Army. The Army's top legislative official has taken responsibility and resigned after an investigation by the Army Inspector General. (Full story)


    Is the Crusader an outmoded system or a necessary weapon for future battlefields?

    Will Congress restore funding for the Crusader in the 2003 defense spending bill?

    If Congress restores the Crusader's funding, will President Bush veto the entire bill in response?

    Should the bill be vetoed, will Congress be able to muster a two-thirds majority to override the president's veto?

    What will the Army replace the Crusader program with?

    WHO'S WHO:

    Donald Rumsfeld: U.S. defense secretary

    Paul Wolfowitz: Deputy defense secretary

    George W. Bush: The U.S. president, who campaigned on modernizing the military and developing weapons that "skip a generation of technology."

    J.C. Watts, Jr.: Oklahoma congressman and chairman of the House Republican Conference, the fourth-highest position in the House.

    James Inhofe: Oklahoma's junior senator and a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. He is a Republican.

    Don Nickles: Oklahoma's senior senator and the Senate assistant minority leader.

    United Defense Industries Inc.: The Arlington, Virginia-based company is the primary contractor to design and build the Crusader. The company has been designing and producing combat vehicles, artillery, naval guns, missile launchers and precision munitions since World War II.

    Carlyle Group: A private global investment firm based in Washington, D.C. that owns more than 50 percent of United Defense Industries. Frank C. Carlucci, a former defense secretary, is the firm's chairman and former Secretary of State James A. Baker III is the firm's senior counselor. Former President George Bush, the father of the current president, is a senior adviser to the firm.


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