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)
  1. Michael

    The Army chief of staff is "not in the chain of command, and play[ed] no direct role in drawing up the war plans?" What's the point of having a general staff, let alone a chief fo staff, if not to have them advise on war plans? That can't be right. Wait, that was the Bush Pentagon, of course it could.

    December 6, 2008 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  2. Lilarose in Bandon, Oregon

    Great Choice!

    Thanks, Obama

    December 6, 2008 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  3. 60 year old white female and proud supporter of PE Obama

    Great appointment; I wonder what Rumsfield thinks of it...

    December 6, 2008 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  4. ready

    he should have een defense secretary

    December 6, 2008 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  5. nick q

    As a mormon independent who voted for Obama, I seem to be liking a lot of his picks, especially Geithner. This gentlemen Shinseki, if he really will be head of the VA, will add to the diversity of the next cabinet. I'm still waiting to hear if Sebelius will be nominated for a position, maybe energy secretary. It seems Obama is really picking a cabinet that will reflect America's diversity. Shinseki looks like the type of straight shooter who has a great amount of integrity and loyalty to his superiors but who is also willing to speak out if he disagrees. Great pick!

    December 6, 2008 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  6. forgotten coldwar army veteran

    Obama's choice of General Eric Skinseki as Sec. of Veterans Affairs is a repudiation of George Bush and his failed Iraq policies. Skinseki was probably asked to resign, simply because he disagreed with the president. This is a typical example of a failed leader who refuses to listen to all viewpoints. Being a former infantry soldier, I always felt Bush and his failed military strategy in Iraq was largely due to a lack of troops on the ground.

    December 6, 2008 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  7. frank

    President-elect Obama pick Gen. Eric Shinseki to be as veterans affairs secretary is a great choice. And the General will do the best for the American veterans. All the veterans should deserved the best care and respect.

    December 6, 2008 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  8. Seattle Sue

    I believe he truly has the welfare of veterans on his mind.

    December 6, 2008 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  9. FreeNLovIt

    Wow! I have always wanted to know who voiced the opinion and finally I get to see and read about the man. It looks like Obama wants his administration to be filled with people with judgement. May the best and brightest, serve our country.

    December 6, 2008 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  10. cile/fairhiope, al

    Thank you from the mother of a soldier in this war for the second time. I am gratefull for someone who cares about the soldiers. Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld are totally without a soul or a brain. I hope they rot. And what is encouraging is that what goes around comes around -ala OJ-0 can't wait for Bush to get his!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!

    December 6, 2008 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  11. FreeNLovIt

    It looks like he wants to fill his positions with people with judgement. It's a start for a new beginning.

    December 6, 2008 08:13 pm at 8:13 pm |
  12. FreeNLovIt

    W goes around giving the medal of honor to the CIA Director, Benet, so Obama should go around elevating people who gives good judgement to the war.

    December 6, 2008 08:14 pm at 8:14 pm |
  13. Howard Roark

    A transition team loaded with lobbyists, a cabinet loaded with entrenched Washington politicians…yep, change you can believe in.

    December 6, 2008 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  14. Eric

    Excellent choice and another sign of the foresight of President-Elect Obama....

    December 6, 2008 08:47 pm at 8:47 pm |
  15. David

    Once again President Elect Obama hits a home run. Looking forward to January 21 when this great team starts its first full day of work.

    December 6, 2008 08:53 pm at 8:53 pm |
  16. smith leonce

    so far no mistake .president-elect obama pick Gen.Erick Shinseki as veterans affairs secretary is one of best, choise.

    December 6, 2008 09:06 pm at 9:06 pm |
  17. Flash Gorden /-\

    LQQKs pretty good! Almost real! Maybe it will keep the mice out of the White House. You can be rich, but, still be a POOR man. Bless his soul...

    December 6, 2008 09:12 pm at 9:12 pm |
  18. Flash Gorden /-\

    OOps! My last entry was meant for the "Bush hanging" article. Oh well. Pertaining to this article, Obama is astounding in filling his cabinet!!!

    December 6, 2008 09:14 pm at 9:14 pm |
  19. raagos


    December 6, 2008 09:29 pm at 9:29 pm |
  20. Clint

    It is great to see a good person that was treated so disrespectfully by the Bush administration being apart of a government he served so honorably.

    I read an article that attributed a statement to General Shinseki that I believe makes him uniquely qualified for this position. I am not sure its true but if it is he is absolutely the right person for the Secretary of Veteran Affairs. The statement was: "You must love those you lead before you can be an effective leader." With this being said, our veterans will be in good hands!

    December 6, 2008 09:30 pm at 9:30 pm |
  21. Brian

    great, another war-monger

    some change we are getting..

    why did i vote for obama?

    December 6, 2008 09:31 pm at 9:31 pm |
  22. Sarah

    Amazing, Wonderful Choice. This is Obama's way, elegantly giving bush/cheny/rumsfeld the finger for all the heart ache and truama they have inflicted on our veterans.

    December 6, 2008 09:32 pm at 9:32 pm |
  23. e

    Great Pick

    December 6, 2008 09:36 pm at 9:36 pm |
  24. Dennis from Millbrae, CA

    Is there no end to the great selections President-elect Obama is making for his Cabinet? This is one wounded Vietnam veteran who loudly applauds the selection of General Shinseki to the post of Secretary of VA. President-elect Obama's selections have all been bright, experienced and strong-willed individuals. Has all the makings of a great Administration. We should all be optimistic about the next four–no, make that eight–years!

    December 6, 2008 09:36 pm at 9:36 pm |
  25. Dave

    The people of this country are on pins and needle waiting for the new President, while the old one seems to be on vacation, or having a mental relapse. We are expecting great things from Obama, since Bush has trash us. I hope he can accomplish at least some of the most necessary things early on in office. Of course, I do see the Republicans putting in road blocks just like they did to Clinton. The Republicans love to see our country on its knees. The is where they put us. It's going to take the support of every American citizens to rebuild our nation. Let's help as much as we can. Those that throw up road blocks, let trample them down.

    December 6, 2008 09:38 pm at 9:38 pm |
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