September 18, 2006
The Claim That Rumsfeld Forbade Postwar Planning Simply Isn't True
The claim in the article "General: Iraq Postwar Plan Forbidden" (Sept. 9) that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld forbade war planners from developing a plan for securing Iraq and threatened to "fire" anyone who did is absurd. It simply did not happen.
The general quoted, Brig. Gen. Mark Scheid, later publicly refuted the article saying it was a "manipulation of my words to stir controversy." Contrary to the suggestion by the article, the U.S. military began planning for post-Saddam Iraq in 2002 and included input from and consultation with all parts of the U.S. government -- the secretary's own policy office, the State Department and the National Security Council. A group of American and Allied officers at Central Command was specifically assigned the task of preparing for "Phase IV" -- the transition from major combat to security and stability operations. And in January 2003, after these weeks and months of preparation, the Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance was created to plan for and facilitate the administration of the country once the Saddam Hussein regime was disarmed and dispatched.
Furthermore, the article states the Secretary Rumsfeld "replaced" Army Chief of Staff Gen. Eric Shinseki after he supposedly disagreed with military leaders over troop levels in Iraq. In fact, Gen. Shinseki completed his full four-year term as service chief and retired on schedule.
BRYAN WHITMAN, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs, U.S. Defense Department, Washington