Rumsfeld blamed generals for lack of forces in postwar Iraq

Newly released Pentagon files have the former secretary of defense faulting military commanders for inadequate troop strength.

By Vincent Rossmeier
May 9, 2008 8:49PM (UTC)
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Donald Rumsfeld must not have a whole lot of faith in Americans' memories.

A New York Times story last month revealed that ever since the lead-up to the Iraq war, the Pentagon had colluded with retired generals in a deliberate campaign to spread the Bush administration's policy messages on TV news shows. The article produced angry rejoinders from some congressional members, and in response, the Pentagon has begun to release a large number of internal transcripts and other documents on its Web site. On Thursday, Think Progress picked up on one particularly interesting exchange that occurred during a 2006 Pentagon briefing.


After Gen. Eric Shinseki stated in February 2003 that it would take "several hundred thousand soldiers" to stabilize postwar Iraq, Rumsfeld famously told Congress that "the idea that it would take several hundred thousand U.S. forces, I think, is far from the mark." But in the newly released transcript, Rumsfeld seems to blame the generals for the low troop levels in Iraq.

In the 2006 briefing, Rumsfeld said:

Now, it turns out he [Shinseki] was right. The commanders -- you guys ended up wanting roughly the same as you had for the major combat operation, and that’s what we have. There is no damned guidebook that says what the number ought to be. We were queued up to go up to what, 400-plus thousand ... They were in the queue. We would have gone right on if they'd wanted them, but they didn't, so life goes on.

Vincent Rossmeier

Vincent Rossmeier is an editorial assistant at Salon.

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