WASHINGTON – Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said Thursday he intends to cancel an $11 billion weapon program that Army leaders say is vital to maintaining its war-fighting edge over the coming decade.
Rumsfeld also said his office is looking into reports that the Army's office of legislative affairs had sought to fight the planned cancellation by preparing "talking points" on lobbying members of Congress to save the Crusader, an artillery system that critics call a relic of the Cold War.
Asked by a reporter whether he believed that Army leaders were fighting a rearguard action to save the Crusader, Rumsfeld said Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz was looking into that.
"I would add that, needless to say, I have a minimum of high regard for that kind of behavior," he added.
Rumsfeld said he was informed Wednesday that Army Secretary Thomas White had been told by Rumsfeld aides that he should produce a study within 30 days on ways to accelerate other Army capabilities, and that the study should assume that Crusader was canceled.
"It clearly suggests that that's the intention -- to cancel it," Rumsfeld said.
When the study results are made available, a final decision on Crusader's fate will be made, he said.
The Crusader is being developed by United Defense Industries Inc., a defense contractor controlled by the Carlyle Group, an investment firm led by Frank C. Carlucci, a former secretary of defense.