Retired US generals oppose Rumsfeld’s conduct of Iraq War, four call for his resignation. The White House defends him
Former secretary of state and top US soldier Colin Powell joined the chorus of war critics. In a recent speech, he spoke of “serious mistakes” after the fall of Baghdad. “We didn’t have enough troops on the ground. We didn’t impose our will. As a result an insurgency got started and it got out of control.”
In the months leading up to the Iraq war, debkafile‘s and DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s military sources revealed in detail the guerrilla campaign Saddam Hussein had prepared to counter the US-led invasion. Our experts stressed at the time that the US and coalition force assigned for the occupation was far too small to exercise control over a country the size of Iraq.
Former Marine Corps Gen. Anthony Zinni called for the defense secretary to be held responsible for a series of blunders, starting with throwing away 10 years worth of planning. Gen. Charles Swannack, who led the 82nd Airborne Division in Iraq, called for a new secretary of defense, “because Rumsfeld carries way too much baggage… and micromanaged the generals leading our forces.”
Retired Maj. Gen. John Riggs accused him of creating an atmosphere of arrogance in the Pentagon’s civilian leadership. “They only heed the military’s advice when it satisfies their agenda,” he charged.
Maj Gen John Batiste, who commanded the 1st Infantry Division in Iraq before he retired, is the latest high-ranking officer to speak out. He urged Rumsfeld to resign, saying “We need a leader who understands teamwork, a leader who does it without intimidation.” He was joined by Marine Corps Lt. Gen .Gregory Newbold, former operations director for the joint chiefs of staff, and Army Maj. Gen Paul Eaton.
The latter, who was in charge of training Iraqi forces from 2003 to 2004, accused the defense secretary of ignoring the advice of seasoned officers and generating “a climate of groupthink.”
Marine Corps Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff stoutly rejected the criticism, asserting “We had then and have now every opportunity to speak our minds.” Standing beside Rumsfeld, Pace said “This country is exceptionally well-served by the man standing on my left.”
The White House declared the president believes Secretary Rumsfeld is doing “a very fine job during a challenging period.” Criticism is expected at a time of war in both Iraq and Afghanistan, said spokesman Scott McClellan.