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[infowar.de] [Fwd: PENTAGON INTERNAL DEBATE OVER SPENDING PRIORITIES]
-------- Original Message --------
Betreff: PENTAGON INTERNAL DEBATE OVER SPENDING PRIORITIES
Datum: Wed, 17 Apr 2002 08:58:32 -0400
Von: "Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space"
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An: "Bruce K. Gagnon" <globalnet -!
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April 16, 2002
Defense Secretary Wants Cuts in Weapons Systems to Pay for New
By THOM SHANKER and JAMES DAO
WASHINGTON, April 15 - Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld convened a
meeting with the three service secretaries today to tell them they
needed to cut major weapons systems to finance new "transformational
technologies," including space surveillance systems and unpiloted
weapons, officials said.
Big-ticket programs potentially on the block, beginning with the 2004
budget, include the Air Force's next-generation F-22 tactical jet and
two Army weapons, the Comanche helicopter and the Crusader artillery
system, officials said.
Pentagon officials said no decisions were made at the afternoon meeting.
But Mr. Rumsfeld's desire to begin debating billions of dollars in
weapons cuts so far before the 2004 budget was clear acknowledgment that
the Pentagon cannot pay for all of the programs now on the books and
proposed for financing in the 2003 budget.
"The talk today was all about the hard decisions to come," one senior
Another senior official added, "This is all a work in progress." But the
official said Mr. Rumsfeld made it clear that certain expensive weapons
systems now set for purchase would "take some hard hits."
Confident of support in Congress and among the American people to pay
for a growing fight against global terror,
President Bush proposed a $379 billion Pentagon budget for 2003 in which
he avoided making some tough choices about some previously controversial
weapons. But the eventual costs of every weapons program in the 2003
spending plan could create unsustainably large military budgets in the
future, and today's meeting opened the debate about what may be cut.
"The secretary wanted to lay it out first to his `corporate board,´ "
one official said of Mr. Rumsfeld´s meeting with Army Secretary Thomas
E. White, Navy Secretary Gordon R. England and Air Force Secretary James
Military contractors, senior military officers in charge of the weapons
programs and members of Congress in whose districts the weapons would be
built or stationed are expected to put up fierce resistance in the
months before writing the 2004 budget and appropriating the funds.
Military officials and budget experts said Mr. Rumsfeld was trying to
forestall what is widely known as the "coming budget train wreck," where
older weapons designed to fight the Soviet Union grow in cost, forcing
cuts on newer technologies that have less political support.
For example, the F-22, a stealthy fighter jet capable of supersonic
speeds for long periods, was created to overcome advanced Soviet fighter
jets in air-to-air combat.
But Mr. Rumsfeld and many of his top advisers see unpiloted aircraft as
the future of air warfare, thanks in part to the strong showing of the
Predator and Global Hawk surveillance drones over Afghanistan. Mr.
Rumsfeld has proposed spending more than $1 billion to accelerate
improvements to and purchases of both those planes as well as
development of an armed drone.
Many administration officials are asking why the Pentagon should
continue to buy 339 F-22's at a total cost of more than $60 billion if
it expects unpiloted aircraft to take a more important role and while
the Air Force is scheduled to get a new and expensive Joint Strike
Similarly, advocates of transformation are pushing an Army program known
as the Future Combat System that will use sophisticated communications
systems to link manned and unmanned vehicles in the air and on the
ground. Yet at the same time, the Army plans to spend more than $11
billion to build 480 Crusaders, self-propelled 155-millimeter howitzers
able to fire farther and faster than existing artillery.
While the Army contends Crusader will be essential in any major
conflicts against Iraq or North Korea, some advocates of transformation
close to Mr. Rumsfeld say it is too heavy to transport quickly and can
be replaced with aircraft using precision-guided bombs.
"The question I keep hearing is, `If you are going to fund Future Combat
System, why spend money on Crusader?´ " a senior administration
official said. "What the Pentagon is realizing is that even in a $380
billion budget, choices have to be made."
Industry officials argue that the Pentagon needs to buy weapons like the
F-22 because existing equipment is rapidly wearing out, making it
expensive to maintain. Waiting for new technologies to become available
will cost the Pentagon more money in spare parts and maintenance, they
Military and civilian officials said that other cuts under consideration
would trim the fleet of proposed V-22 Osprey, the Marine Corps
tilt-rotor troop carrier, and reduce the number of interim brigade
combat teams for the Army as it makes a transition from heavy tank
forces to a combat system yet to be designed.
The programs that the administration wants to increase spending on
include not only the unpiloted weapons and surveillance systems, but
also a proposed network of communications satellites that use laser
beams to transfer data.
Administration officials said that Mr. Rumsfeld had hoped to make large
cuts to older weapons systems in the 2003 budget, but that his early
efforts to build support for such cuts collapsed in the face of intense
opposition among senior military officers and members of Congress.
Though the war on terrorism has strengthened Mr. Rumsfeld's standing in
the Pentagon and on Capitol Hill, efforts to cut or cancel major weapons
programs will encounter strong opposition in both places. Military
analysts said it might be essential for President Bush, who has
repeatedly called for replacing cold-war weapons with
"skip-a-generation" systems, to support Mr. Rumsfeld's effort if it is
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