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Radio Roundtable With NPR, AP and BBC

Presenter: Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz
May 10, 2002

(Radio Roundtable With NPR, AP and BBC)

Wolfowitz: We are really trying to do two big tasks at the same time here in the Defense Department. One is to fight this war on terrorism, and I think we continue to have successes in Afghanistan and also in the Philippines where we're helping the Filipinos. But as the President has said from the beginning and so has the Secretary, this is not anything that's going to be over quickly. It's not just about one network or one country. I think the stakes are huge, I think the American people are prepared for a long struggle.

At the same time that we're engaged in that we are working hard to build the military of the 21st Century to develop the kinds of forces that we need to have ten years from now or 15 years from now for what might be a very different kind of conflict. It was in that context that we made the decision just a few days ago to terminate the Crusader program and to move the money from that system and to invest in more truly transformational technology that can give our Army of the next decade, perhaps even in some cases a little bit earlier, the kind of accuracy and deployability and connectivity that are truly transformational.

Q: Do you feel in any sense that what happened after 9-11 and the campaign in Afghanistan has perhaps in some way given you a second bite at transformation. That your initial moves when it came in appeared to be some way stalling, but you have, if you like, got some more ammunition in terms of lessons from Afghanistan and how that conflict and the future of the conflict, the campaign is unfolding?

Wolfowitz: I think it's early to draw the lessons. I think there are lessons in Afghanistan that clearly underscore the importance of certain kinds of transformational capabilities. One of them is the incredible importance of precision or accuracy. The truth is we've seen that really over the last 25 years starting, as I remember, back when Rumsfeld was Secretary of Defense the first time. Some people said we don't need the Tomahawk cruise missiles, we've got lots of other ways to deliver nuclear weapons. And other people, myself included, said no, to be able to deliver a weapon at long distances with the kind of accuracy the Tomahawk has is truly revolutionary. I think we've seen that with cruise missiles. We now saw it in Afghanistan with the air-delivered weapons. In fact I think the statistics are in Desert Storm only about 3 percent of the weaponry airdrops were precision guided. In Kosovo it was a little over 30 percent. And in Afghanistan it's 60 percent or hither.

The importance and value of precision has been demonstrated dramatically.

One of the things we hope to accelerate with the funds made available from Crusader in precision artillery, precision rocket systems.

Another demonstration was the benefit that comes from being able to deploy forces deep and rapidly and we frankly never planned on having to send forces into Afghanistan. As it turned out we were able to get enormous leverage with very small numbers of special forces. But one can imagine in the future where you might want that same leverage with a more capable infantry force and that's where Army transformation's really aimed at.

Q: A couple of other --

Wolfowitz: If I may, I'm sorry, it's a long answer but we've learned a lot.

The third point I'd make is we've seen the incredible benefits that can come from connecting different forces. Our jargon for that is connectivity. It's a fancy word for being able to communicate, but ground forces can communicate with air forces and naval forces in ways that were unimaginable in the past, and it is not only that we have [marvels] like cell phones and satellite communications, but we have the ability to network all of this stuff.

We were using chat rooms in this war, something that I guess every teenager knows. But it's a key technology. It's also a technology that makes it possible to pull all these systems together with the speed needed to find and kill the target.

Q: A couple of questions along those lines relating to the developments of this week, actually.

Are you intending to restructure the way that the military services communicate with Congress? In a broader way than just removing the one fellow who has submitted his resignation? Do you need to change that dynamic between the services and the Congress?

Wolfowitz: I think everyone learned a lesson about how not to communicate with Congress and I hope that lesson is learned by everybody.

I hope what we saw in the incident you referred to is an aberration. It's very important that we communicate with Congress and we've got to do it across the broad front. They need the information we have, and we need to make sure they get it. So I don't see anything revolutionary. I do hope everybody, not just the people directly involved, but everybody takes a lesson from that.

Q: But you know that many Defense Secretaries have come in here trying to make changes and have gotten nowhere because, partly perhaps because the services have such good relations, military service-congressional-defense contractor complements.

Wolfowitz: I know what you say but I also know the last time I was here was with Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney, now Vice President, and we've had a lot of change. Colin Powell was then the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs. I think, in fact I guess what I would draw from that is the importance of going to Congress with a pretty high level of cohesion in the department. That doesn't mean that everybody's going to agree, but the very room we're sitting in, this big long table that your listeners can't see but I can tell them it's there, we spent over the course of last summer something close to 80 hours with the Secretary of Defense and the top leadership of the departments, the service Secretaries, the Chiefs of all the uniformed services, hammering out some of the key changes that were laid out in last year's Quadrennial Defense Review.

I'm sure there are people who think that wasn't a sufficiently radical document, but let me tell you when you get everybody behind change it is much more valuable than when you get some very, very sharp edge change that most people don't agree with.

Q: And the other question was, is the Crusader likely to be the only major weapons program that is canceled this year? Or is it possible that another one could be?

Wolfowitz: The timing on Crusader was late and we understand that and it puts all of the congressional committees in a difficult spot, but we reached a point of our thinking on Crusader that we really thought it would not be responsible not to share with Congress the conclusions we've reached about the '04 budget in effect while they were deliberating on the '03 budget. But I would say everything else we're doing is in the context of preparing that '04 budget and I would, we have quite a few analyses in the works. I can't prejudge the conclusions of any of them. Those won't start to come in until the fall as we put the next year's budget [to bed].

Q: So what we've heard about like the F-22 and the V-22, one will be tested but the other may go forward on a smaller scale, that is where you're likely to be? There's not going to be a sudden change?

Wolfowitz: The V-22, as I think everyone knows, is a system, if it can deliver it has great capability but it so far has had serious and tragic problems. The first thing to figure out is whether those problems can be solved and it can be made into a safe and effective [inaudible]. I think that's the real question.

With the F-22, one of the studies the Secretary has directed in the context of this year's Defense Planning Guidance, is to look at the whole issue of what the future role of the F-22 is and in that context how many F-22s we want to have. Whether we want to have a ground attack version of it. So it's a pretty comprehensive study. I would not want to prejudge the conclusions of it. They're not [inaudible].

Q: What specific arguments are you going to be making to Congress that you think can persuade them not to kill the Crusader? Are you going to -- What are you going to [inaudible]?

Wolfowitz: I think the bottom line argument to me is a simple and pure one. Crusader is a good system. It's an improvement over [inaudible], but it is the intermediate kind of improvement. It doesn't really take us into the leap-ahead sorts of capabilities that are incorporated in the Army objective force, the Army transformation force.

What we want to do is put that money into systems that are more accurate, lighter, more easily deployable, and ultimately can be networked more effectively. The argument is we think the risk of not having those capabilities in the future are much higher than the risk of losing that Crusader in the immediate term.

Q: Do you have those others available now? Do you have any --

Wolfowitz: Crusader isn't available now either. Crusader, in fact we don't even have a prototype of it yet. We put money into it, there's some promising technology there. Crusader wouldn't come on-line until the '08 to 2012 period at which point hopefully we're starting to have some of these other capabilities. In fact I would hope before then we're able with some of this increased investment to get precision artillery [inaudible].

Q: And do you feel you have an exposed flank there with Crusader's supporters in Congress and elsewhere in that you can't point to anything at the moment where you can say this will deliver the equivalent firepower capability of Crusader in the way that you want to do in the transformational way you want it. Secretary White said the other day when you were at the news conference that he didn't have an answer as to how these capabilities could be replaced. That was what in part was going to be behind the 30 day study.

Wolfowitz: I think that is the kind of dilemma you always face when you're deciding how much to invest in the near or medium term versus how much you invest in the future, because the future systems are inevitably less certain. There is clearly a comforting feeling that comes from having certainty, but I think its comforting at the expense of the real confidence we want to have that 15 years from now when it's hard to predict the future that we're going to have the capabilities that we really need.

I think it's misleading to suggest that we don't have anything without Crusader. We have [inaudible] and even when the Crusader was around was going to be in the force for a long time. It's not the ideal artillery system by any means, and Crusader would have been a big improvement, but we have a lot of capability. MLRS, for example, I think ten years ago when we didn't have Crusader, we had a pretty formidable force.

Q: A lot has been said about at times in the media that the United States cannot attack Iraq until the Middle East situation, the West Bank situation is dealt with in some way. Otherwise you can't get support from the allies. I know there are different analyses of that situation and I'm wondering how you see that situation, how you see the relationship between those two situations. Do you need to clear up the Middle East first, or is there a different way that you can proceed?

Wolfowitz: I'm going to answer it a little bit carefully because these are decisions that only the President can make.

I think it's unquestionably true that the more progress we can make on the Arab-Israeli conflict or the Israeli-Palestinian conflict where it's focused now, the more support we'll be able to garner for other operations including the ones you referred to.

I think it's also true, and history is pretty strongly supportive of this, that our ability to make progress on the peace process is heavily influenced by the strategic environment in which it takes place. It's not an accident that the big breakthrough that led to the first Camp David agreement, the real triumph that led to the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty and the return of the entire Sinai Desert came only after the Soviet Union had been thrown out of Egypt, Soviet forces had been thrown out of Egypt, and the United States had demonstrated in 1970, 1973 that we were the real powers in the Eastern Mediterranean. That's what gave Anwar Saddat the confidence to move forward.

I don't think it's an accident either that the breakthroughs of the Madrid conference and the Oslo peace process took place in the wake of the American victory over Iraq, and frankly, the weakness that the radicals were [inaudible].

So I think success on either front helps on the other and problems on either front create problems on the other. So to me the argument is you push ahead as well as you can.

Q: May I just quickly ask about on the sanctions issue. Are you concerned that some deal might be worked out where they would allow the inspectors to go in and then you'd be left with a situation where the inspectors may not find anything, and then there would be -- what about that issue?

Wolfowitz: There's a fundamental problem. There's been no effective inspection in Iraq for three or four years now. When I say effective inspection, [they being] no longer. Even when we had the most effective inspection regime that has yet been seen in an arms control disarmament arrangement, the so-called UNSCOM, they were almost on the verge of saying they couldn't find anything and then Saddam Hussein's son-in-law defected and gave them a treasure trove of documents and they started discovering all kinds of things.

We've had four more years without inspectors. We don't have another son-in-law in sight. It's not going to be an easy task to have an inspection regime that can give us the kind of confidence we need to have that we can prevent the sort of tragedy that the President was speaking about trying to prevent in the State of the Union message.

Q: Thank you. We'd love to do this as often as we can, every week if possible.

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