Obama Taps Shinseki for Veterans Affairs

By Dschabner

Dec 6, 2008 6:17pm

ABC News has learned that President-elect Obama will nominate Gen. Eric Shinseki (Ret.) to be Secretary of Veterans Affairs.

Shinseki, 66, served as Chief of Staff for the Army from 1999 until 2003, and is perhaps best known for testifying before the Senate before the war in Iraq that "several hundred thousand soldiers" would be needed to wage the war successfully.

His then boss, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, contradicted him publicly, calling Shinseki’s estimate "far off the mark," and insisting that a much smaller force would suffice.  Military analysis in retrospect have said that Shinseki was correct, arguing that the subsequent "surge" in troops seems to have proven the Rumsfeld nemesis was right.

Shinseki, a Japanese-American born in Mr. Obama’s home state of Hawaii, is the first Asian-American to be tapped to serve in Mr. Obama’s Cabinet. He was the first Asian-American to have achieved the rank of four stars. He served two combat tours in Vietnam and was wounded.

"A pretty darn good pick," a senior Obama adviser told ABC News. "The guy who thought we weren’t sending enough troops will now help care for those who went. And it sure doesn’t hurt to have a 38-year Army veteran and former Army chief of staff in the room on national security issues."

With Marine Gen. Jim Jones (Ret.) having been tapped as National Security Adviser, this the second general Mr. Obama has brought onto his team who had major clashes with Rumsfeld.

Before his retirement, Jones was reportedly so disgusted with how politicized Rumsfeld had made the Pentagon, in his view, he declined to even meet with him to interview for the job of Joint Chiefs Chairman.

Mr. Obama’s announcement is scheduled for Sunday, the anniversary of the 1941 invasion at Pearl Harbor.

- jpt

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