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Rumsfeld 'wasted US lives in Iraq' says General Batiste
(The Telegraph Group, 29 May 2006)
A senior American general who served as a combat commander in Iraq has accused the Defence Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, of squandering the lives of United States soldiers by ignoring military advice on how to conduct the campaign. . . . In an interview with The Sunday Telegraph, Major General John Batiste, who resigned last year after 12 months stationed in Iraq's Sunni Triangle, said the Pentagon chief had caused "unnecessary deaths" by committing "strategic blunders of enormous magnitude". . . . His outspoken comments come as the US military death toll in Iraq approaches 2,500, and put him at the forefront of the chorus of former generals who have called in recent months for Rumsfeld to step down. . . . . . . the former career soldier, who resigned last year after commanding 22,000 troops of the US Army's 1st Infantry Division, is planning a sustained public offensive aimed at driving Rumsfeld from office. . . . "I'm as mad as hell," he said. "I'm not stopping. They can hand wave me off, dismiss me, but I'm coming back, again and again and again until there is some accountability." . . . The transformation of a once loyal soldier into an outspoken rebel is a stark indicator of the growing disquiet at the heart of America's military establishment, and will renew the pressure on President George W. Bush to replace his defence chief. . . . General Batiste, 53, who claims that his critique has "growing support on both sides of the aisle in Congress", alleges that Rumsfeld not only went to war with too few troops, but then refused urgent pleas from commanders on the ground for more. . . . He says Rumsfeld's "contemptuous, arrogant and dismissive attitude" led him to ignore military advice and hamstring ground commanders with troop shortages. . . . The critique outlined by General Batiste, the son of a colonel who fought in the Second World War, Korea and Vietnam, is all the more potent because before observing Rumsfeld's policies in practice in Iraq he served alongside him in the Pentagon. . . . As the senior military aide to Paul Wolfowitz, the then deputy Pentagon chief, he experienced Rumsfeld's abrasive style first-hand. . . . "You can't tell that man anything because he knows it all," he said. It is, however, his allegation that Rumsfeld has wasted the lives of soldiers that will hit home hardest. "There were insufficient troops on the ground by a factor of two-and-a-half to three," said General Batiste.

posted by Lorenzo 6:02 AM

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