December 6th, 2008
06:10 PM ET
14 years ago

Obama to nominate Shinseki as veterans affairs secretary

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption=" Shinseki is a former Army chief of staff."] WASHINGTON (CNN) - President-elect Barack Obama will nominate retired Gen. Eric Shinseki to be secretary of Veterans Affairs, two Democratic sources told CNN Saturday.

For years, Shinseki has been the patron saint of Pentagon critics who say the former Army chief's sage advice was ignored in 2003, resulting in too few U.S. troops being sent to Iraq after the invasion.

Shinseki testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee in February 2003 that "something on the order of several hundred thousand soldiers would be required" to pacify the country. The comment infuriated some Bush administration officials, and he retired just a few months later.

Shinseki has never spoken publicly about his testimony, which has often been cited by critics as evidence that then Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld ignored the advice of one of his key generals.

But as Army chief of staff, Shinseki was not in the chain of command, and played no direct role in drawing up the war plans.

Pentagon sources say that, in fact, Shinseki never advocated higher troop levels for Iraq, in part because it was not his job to do so. And sources say that just before the invasion, when asked by then-Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Richard Myers if he agreed with the war plans, Shinseki voiced no objections.

Full story

(updated with additional information 7:25 p.m. ET)

Filed under: Obama transition
soundoff (69 Responses)

    January 20, 2009 cannot come soon enough!

    December 6, 2008 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  2. Jorge

    Retired General Eric Shinseki is the former Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army. He has continually communicated an incredible sense of pride in the young men and women who are the backbone of the Army. He has shown no interest in the trappings of power that come with being a four-star general. In fact, he sees the status and perks that come with being a general as major obstacles to overcome. His voice fills with emotion when he discusses the sacrifices of the brave soldiers who are risking their lives for our country. In short, General Shinseki is a soldier’s soldier.

    December 6, 2008 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  3. Kevin

    I think the Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs, should be an retired or disabled Enlisted Veteran not an Officer. The Enlisted are the backbone of the Military and they should be Represented at The Va not the Officers

    December 6, 2008 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  4. No Hillary = No Obama

    IT will take a miracle to change the attitude and foot-dragging culture of the VA.

    December 6, 2008 06:35 pm at 6:35 pm |
  5. C Spurgeon

    Sounds like another good appt....Another example of that fine Bush administration that the crew is out harping on now.

    December 6, 2008 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  6. Dexter Skagway

    Conservativess were mad at Shinseki, who was right, and they were mad at the French, who also were right. Never trust people who shout down the truth.

    December 6, 2008 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  7. BB

    Good choice – if he'd been listened to instead of "W"s friend Rummy, life would be a lot different for all of us at this time. Google him and his recommendations for Iraq ------ just saying.

    December 6, 2008 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  8. cr

    Great Choice, as usual...

    December 6, 2008 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
  9. Ken in NC

    They asked him his opinion of the number of troops that would be needed and he gave HIS opinion and was probably forced to retire. It's that way in the private sector too. Many at the top pose questions to others with the expectation they will hear what they want to hear and when they do not then that person then becomes a non participating member of the team is is replaced with a YES MAN/WOMAN.

    Now he is back as the top person in Vet affairs. I truly hope he will listen and respect the responses he gets when he ask questions of his people.

    December 6, 2008 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
  10. jesse

    Shineski's a good choice

    December 6, 2008 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  11. Steve NY

    Dang, I thought Obama was against the surge. The guy is all over the place with some of these nominations and appointments. Daggone!

    December 6, 2008 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  12. Brenda R. Harris

    Way to go Mr. President .

    December 6, 2008 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  13. Lori

    I am so proud of President elect Obama. This just proves to America how much Obama wants his cabinet to reflect ALL of America not just the white 'pro-American' small town parts of America (like Palin says).

    The Democrats embrace diversity (white, black, Asian, Latino, etc.) and the Republicans reflect old white racist males who hate diversity.

    Obama/Biden!!! Yes we did!!!

    December 6, 2008 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  14. Larry

    I think Gen. Shinseki will be a fine choice,I'm sure he will help all of us Veterans !!!! The question he answered was relevant to POST VICTORY Iraq,that really has nothing to do with the increase of troops needed during the war going on now,including the SURGE policy.


    December 6, 2008 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  15. LF Oneto - Virginia

    Excellent choice. Once again, BO has shown that he will surround himself with the best qualified people to lead this country.

    December 6, 2008 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  16. Moe, NY

    If this man managed to infuriate some Bush administration officials, he must be telling it like it is...not like the republicans/neocons wanted to hear. I'll take a chance on him as Veterans Affairs Secretary. as long as he helps our veterans, not like McCain, who voted against giving our veterans any well deserved help.

    December 6, 2008 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  17. mb

    Good, now our soldiers and veterans can get everything they need and deserve.

    December 6, 2008 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  18. bob-texas

    the most diverse staff ever

    December 6, 2008 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
  19. Godluvr

    Congratulations Sir!
    May all go well with you in this wonderful administration. Please do all you can for our troops and our veterans. They have been overlooked and under-cared for too long! Thank you!

    December 6, 2008 07:19 pm at 7:19 pm |
  20. Pat M

    Sounds like the Best Choice To Me. Too bad Bush didn't take General Shinseki's advice, the history books may have had a very different story to tell.

    December 6, 2008 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  21. Curtis McMinn

    Bout dang time. Maybe if they would have listened to him in the first place we wouldn't be where we are now.

    December 6, 2008 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  22. Jeff in Illinois

    very nice

    December 6, 2008 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  23. Jaye

    Another excellent choice!

    December 6, 2008 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |
  24. Richard Larson

    For far too long the VA has been a backwater for party hacks and contributors who have little or no knowledge about the special requirements of thos who depend upon this department not only for life sustenance, but for basic health maintenance. The general should be a veritable improvement over anyone that has held this position for a very long time. I would hope that he would appoint other retired medical officers to head the sub-departments for which their training qualifies them.

    I am a veteran with several service connected physical problems. There are two main problems that plague former service members. They are the initial disability qualification process, which for far too long has been an argumentive process where non-medically qualified bureaucrats can completely ignore competent medical expertise in the interpretation of what qualifies as a disabling injury and the level of compensation it deserves. I had to appeal my original rating and prove that I deserved greater compensation, then a bureaucrat eliminated coverage for two injuries, that though they were rated at zero percent, they were expected to be upgraded, due to aging, at a later evaluation.

    I sincerely hope that the general and congress can come up with a compensatory program that is at least better than the barely adequate coverage now experienced by veterans who have been injured in the service of their country, whether they were injured during combat or injured during peace time service. My contention is that all service is dangerous and that training for combat should be given the same credit for compensation as those wounded in combat or in combat zones.

    December 6, 2008 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |
  25. Yes to Obama

    Good choice...goood mannn...keep going Obama...God Belss America and God Bless you and ur family.

    December 6, 2008 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
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