Long before the United States invaded Iraq in 2003, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld forbade military strategists to develop plans for securing a post-war Iraq, the retiring commander of the Army Transportation Corps said Thursday.
In fact, said Brig. Gen. Mark Scheid, Rumsfeld said “he would fire the next person” who talked about the need for a post-war plan.
Rumsfeld did replace Gen. Eric Shinseki, the Army chief of staff in 2003, after Shinseki told Congress that hundreds of thousands of troops would be needed to secure post-war Iraq.
Scheid, who is also the commander of Fort Eustis in Newport News, made his comments in an interview with the Newport News Daily Press. He retires in about three weeks.
“The secretary of defense continued to push on us that everything we write in our plan has to be the idea that we are going to go in, we’re going to take out the regime, and then we’re going to leave,” Scheid said. “We won’t stay.”
Scheid said the planners continued to try “to write what was called Phase 4,” or the piece of the plan that included post-invasion operations like security, stability and reconstruction.
Even if the troops didn’t stay, “at least we have to plan for it,” Scheid said.
“I remember the secretary of defense saying that he would fire the next person that said that,” Scheid said. “He said we will not do that because the American public will not back us if they think we are going over there for a long war.”