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15 May 2002

Byliner: Senator Inhofe Says Crusader is a Vital Weapon

(Op-ed from USA Today 05/15/02) (450)
(This op-ed column by U.S. Senator James M. Inhofe, R-Okla, first
appeared in USA Today May 15 and is in the public domain.)
CRUSADER IS VITAL WEAPON
By James M. Inhofe
(The author is a U.S. Senator, R-Okla., and is a member of the Senate
Armed Services Committee.)
Those who use inaccurate media statements to argue that Crusader is
too big and not transformational are not listening to the soldiers who
are responsible for fighting with the system. Army civilian and
military leaders have testified that the war fighter needs the
Crusader system. Simply put, I support the war fighter.
There has been no credible analysis or testimony against fielding
Crusader. The Defense Department has proposed several alternatives it
says will improve the accuracy, lethality and deployability of our
military. The problem is that most of what they propose only exists on
a PowerPoint slide.
Army Secretary Thomas White stated in his May 7 press conference that
"the requirement for indirect fire systems to support the United
States Army 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." Asked whether the
alternatives the department proposes met these requirements, he said,
"I don't know. That's what we're going to have to find out."
Accelerating the production of rockets and missiles will not fix the
problem. Rockets and missiles are not as responsive as artillery,
their effects are diminished in difficult terrain, and most
importantly they cannot be used in close proximity to friendly troops.
The reality is that our armed forces need a balance of rockets,
missiles and cannon artillery to meet a wide range of missions and
battlefield situations.
The president included Crusader in his budget request for next fiscal
year. The Army made force-structure and funding sacrifices to keep it
fully funded. The Army clearly wants Crusader and has testified it
needs the system to be part of its transformation. Arguments that
experience in Afghanistan caused the Defense Department to re-examine
priorities are clearly refuted by testimony by the vice chief of staff
when talking about Operation Anaconda. Without proper analysis,
Congress cannot be assured that what the department proposes
represents the best investment in national defense.
Our men and women of the military expect and deserve the best weapon
systems available. PowerPoint slides look great and are lightweight,
but they are not going to win wars.
(Distributed by the Office of International Information Programs, U.S.
Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)



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