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The Army's Talking Points Controversy Essay

3711 words - 15 pages

The Crusader’s Background
The Army focused on building the XM 2001 Crusader self-propelled howitzer from 1987 to 2002 in order to enhance its self-propelled 155mm artillery capabilities (Bruner & Bowman, 2002, p. 1). Since the Crusader was developed starting in the late 1980s, the system was intended to combat the firepower of the Soviet Union’s artillery. Among the tasks the weapons system would have fulfilled were “direct-fire maneuver forces, such as tanks and infantry, with immediate, heavy, indirect fires from a distance” (Bruner & Bowman, 2002, p. 1).
The Army originally planned to equip its units with 1,138 of the Crusaders starting in the 2008 fiscal year (Bruner & Bowman, 2002, p. 2). The program was revised in 1999 to build 480 vehicles at a total cost of $11 billion. United Defense, which is headquartered in Fridley, Minnesota, would have built the Crusader. United Defense would have used a newly constructed plant in Oklahoma near the Army’s home of the field artillery in Fort Sill, Oklahoma. In addition, United Defense would have used subcontractors in the states of California, Michigan, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Vermont, and Virginia to produce the Crusader (Bruner & Bowman, 2002, p. 2). The Crusader would have also created jobs in the state of Massachusetts and the District of Columbia .
The states of California, Massachusetts, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Virginia are considered politically powerful or swing states. Other, the production of military hardware becomes a very parochial issue. Michigan is the home state of Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin and California has two senior Senators in Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein. Minnesota and Virginia had then Senate Armed Services Committee members Mark Dayton and Jim Webb.
Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has stated that these types of parochial interests are not new to the political process (Gates, 2009). Secretary Gates explained that, when the first Secretary of War was charged with building the first American Naval fleet, he ordered six ships to be built in six shipyards in six different states. According to Secretary Gates, this strategy was implemented to gain greater support from Congress (Gates, 2009). By hiring subcontractors in these politically sensitive states, United Defense likely hoped to build support for the Crusader weapons system among key members of Congress and senators.
Rumsfeld and the Generals
One of the underlying issues of the cancellation of the Crusader weapons system was the relationship between Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and the military leadership in the Pentagon. According to Kansas State University professor and retired Naval reservist Dr. Dale R. Herspring, Rumsfeld was considered to be “pugnacious, arrogant, bright, brusque, and very difficult to get along with” by most general officers and other senior leaders in the Pentagon (Herspring, 2005, p. 380). According to Dr. Herspring, “Rumsfeld...

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