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Retired US Iraq General Demands Rumsfeld Resign
By Will Dunham
Wednesday 12 April 2006
A recently retired two-star general who just a year ago commanded a U.S.
Army division in Iraq on Wednesday joined a small but growing list of
former senior officers to call on Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to
"I believe we need a fresh start in the Pentagon. We need a leader who
understands teamwork, a leader who knows how to build teams, a leader
that does it without intimidation," Maj. Gen. John Batiste, who
commanded the Germany-based 1st Infantry Division in Iraq, said in an
interview on CNN.
In recent weeks, retired Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Gregory Newbold, Army
Maj. Gen. Paul Eaton and Marine Corps Gen. Anthony Zinni all spoke out
against Rumsfeld. This comes as opinion polls show eroding public
support for the 3-year-old war in which about 2,360 U.S. troops have died.
"You know, it speaks volumes that guys like me are speaking out from
retirement about the leadership climate in the Department of Defense,"
"But when decisions are made without taking into account sound military
recommendations, sound military decision making, sound planning, then
we're bound to make mistakes."
Batiste, a West Point graduate who also served during the previous Gulf
War, retired from the Army on November 1, 2005. While in Iraq, his
division, nicknamed the Big Red One, was based in Tikrit, and it wrapped
up a yearlong deployment in May 2005.
Critics have accused Rumsfeld of bullying senior military officers and
disregarding their views. They often cite how Rumsfeld dismissed
then-Army Chief of Staff Gen. Eric Shinseki's opinion a month before the
2003 invasion that occupying Iraq could require "several hundred
thousand troops," not the smaller force Rumsfeld would send.
Many experts believe that the chaos that ensued and the insurgency that
emerged just months later vindicated Shinseki's view.
Batiste told CNN "we've got the best military in the world, hands down,
period." He did not say whether he felt the war was winnable.
"Lack of Sacrifice"
"Whether we agree or not with the war in Iraq, we are where we are, and
we must succeed in this endeavor. Failure is frankly not an option,"
Batiste said he was struck by the "lack of sacrifice and commitment on
the part of the American people" to the war, with the exception of
families with soldiers fighting in Iraq.
"I think that our executive and legislative branches of government have
a responsibility to mobilize this country for war. They frankly have not
done so. We're mortgaging our future, our children, $8 to $9 billion a
month," he said, referring to the cost of the war.
He defined success in the war as "setting the Iraqi people up for
self-reliance with their form of representative government that takes
into account tribal, ethnic and religious differences that have always
defined Iraqi society."
"Iraqis, frankly, in my experience, do not understand democracy. Nor do
they understand their responsibilities for a free society," Batiste said.
Newbold, the military's top operations officer before the Iraq war, said
in a Time magazine opinion piece on Sunday that he regretted having not
more openly challenged U.S. leaders who took the United States into "an
unnecessary war" in Iraq. Newbold encouraged officers still in the
military to voice any doubts they have about the war.
On Tuesday, Marine Corps Gen. Pete Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of
Staff, defended Rumsfeld from the criticism.
Rumsfeld said that "there's nothing wrong with people having opinions,"
and that criticism should be expected during a war as controversial as
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