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Rumsfeld critic to lead veteran affairs

world Updated: Dec 07, 2008 23:21 IST
Jeff Mason
Jeff Mason
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US President-elect Bara-ck Obama has selected retired General Eric Shinseki, who clashed with the Bush administration troops needed in Iraq, to be the next secretary of veterans affairs.

Shinseki’s tenure as Army chief of staff from 1999 to 2003 was marked by constant tensions with Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, which boiled over in 2003 when he testified to Congress it might take several hundred thousand US troops to control Iraq after the invasion.

Shinseki served in the Army for 38 years and lost part of his right foot during one of two combat tours in Vietnam.

“I think General

Shinseki is exactly the right person who is going to be able to make sure that we honour our troops when they come home,” Obama told NBC.

Moderator Tom Brokaw noted Shinseki had lost his job in the Bush administration because he said more troops were needed in Iraq. “He was right,” Obama said.

Upon leaving his post in June 2003, Shinseki in his farewell speech sternly warned against arrogance in leadership.

“You must love those you lead before you can be an effective leader,” he said. “You can certainly command without that sense of commitment, but you cannot lead without it. And without leadership, command is a hollow experience, a vacuum often filled with mistrust and arrogance.”