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Pensacola News Journal
September 24, 2006

Absurd Editorial

The assertions in a recent editorial ("General: Rumsfeld scotched post-war planning for Iraq," Sept. 18) that Secretary Rumsfeld forbade war planners from developing a plan for securing Iraq and threatened to "fire" anyone who did are absurd. The general quoted, Brig. Gen. Mark Scheid, publicly refuted the article cited, explaining it was a "manipulation of my words to stir controversy."

Contrary to the suggestion in the column, the U.S. military began planning for post-Saddam Iraq in 2002. This planning 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 months of preparation, the Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance was created to plan for and facilitate the administration of post-Saddam Iraq.

Furthermore, the article states that Secretary Rumsfeld "shunted aside" Army Chief of Staff General Eric Shinseki after he supposedly disagreed with military leaders over troop levels in Iraq. In fact, General Shinseki completed his full four-year term as service chief and retired on schedule.

Bryan Whitman, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs, Washington, D.C.

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