(Live interview with Lou Dobbs for CNN Moneyline.)
Dobbs: The Crusader artillery system is the first major weapons program to be canceled in more than ten years. Other projects could be at risk as Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld pushes ahead with plans to transform the military. He wants the military to refocus doctrine on capacity and capabilities on greater mobility and better use of technology. So far there's been no talk of raising the number of servicemen and women.
Joining me now to talk about this issue, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz.
Mr. Secretary, good to have you here.
Wolfowitz: Good to be here.
Dobbs: The secretary, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld, has said the weapons system is dead. About nine billion dollars would be saved, two already spent. Already we're hearing some cries from Congress that they believe that that program should be kept alive.
Will the secretary's decision stand, in your judgment?
Wolfowitz: Oh, I'm quite sure at the end of the day it will stand. But it's also important to emphasize this is not just a decision about terminating Crusader. Importantly, it's a decision to take that money and invest it in systems that are truly transformational. Crusader represented an improvement over our current artillery. But what we really want to invest in are those systems that the Army needs to have a truly transformational capability in artillery, things that will give it the kind of precision that we saw was so decisive in Afghanistan in air power, things that will give our artillery the ability to deploy on distant, remote battlefields more effectively.
Dobbs: Secretary Wolfowitz, before we go to those, if you will, other systems that will be transformational, how is it that this program with two billion dollars behind it already could reach this point? How could that much money be spent and a more active and ultimately conclusive decision not have been reached? That's an extraordinary amount of money to be spent.
Wolfowitz: Lou, there's never a good time to make these decisions. You need to have the knowledge. In fact, I'm sure we'll find that we've developed a lot of technology in this program that can be applied in other artillery systems. And part of what we're looking at is how to keep those kinds of technologies going. But you look forward, you don't look back. You look at that $11 billion or so that's out in front of us, and what's the best use of that to make Army artillery truly a system of this century?
Dobbs: The Crusader to replace a 40 year-old system, the Paladin. What will you use as you move forward in your desire to transform the military? What will replace Paladin, a 40 year-old system?
Wolfowitz: Well, the Paladins themselves are not 40 years old. The original Paladin was 40 years old. We've been buying them I think as late as the mid 1990s. So the average -- the Paladins are going to be around a long time. They would have been around a long time even with Crusader.
One of the things we're very interested in putting that money into is accelerating the development of accurate precision-guided artillery and rocket munitions. We've seen now over the last 20 years with the Tomahawk missile, with air-launched cruise missiles, most recently in Afghanistan with a GPS guided bombs that precision is one of the most transformational things in warfare. And we think it'll be just as transformational in artillery as it has been in other systems.
Another thing we want to do is to be able to have indirect fires, artillery fires from systems that are more rapidly deployable, that can fit on smaller aircraft and be deployed deeper and faster.
Dobbs: As you and the secretary move forward with these transformational technologies and systems that you want to apply, some mounting concern that there simply are not enough men and women in the military under arms. How concerned are you about that?
Wolfowitz: Well, we're looking hard at it. There's no question that there're a lot of demands on our military today that weren't there eight months ago. It is amusing that back then some people thought we could contemplate major cuts in military manpower. What Secretary Rumsfeld has said is before we take the very expensive step of adding manpower -- it's one of the most expensive things we have -- let's look not just at the new tasks we have to perform -- there're many of those -- but let's look at some of the old tasks we've been performing and ask whether they're really necessary. Let's look at old ways we've had of using that scarce manpower and ask if we've really been efficient.
So we are insisting on a very hard look at all of that before we agree to any increases.
Dobbs: Secretary Wolfowitz, we thank you for being with us here.
Wolfowitz: A pleasure to be with you. Thank you.
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