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1930Rumsfeld forbade planning for post-war Iraq

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  • Greg Cannon
    Sep 10, 2006
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      Eustis chief: Iraq post-war plan muzzled
      Army Brig. Gen. Mark Scheid, an early planner of the
      war, tells about challenges of invasion and

      September 8, 2006
      FORT EUSTIS -- Months before the United States invaded
      Iraq in 2003, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld
      forbade military strategists from developing 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 Daily Press. He retires in about three weeks.

      Scheid doesn't go so far as calling for Rumsfeld to
      resign. He's listened as other retired generals have
      done so.

      "Everybody has a right to their opinion," he said.
      "But what good did it do?"

      Scheid's comments are further confirmation of the
      version of events reported in "Cobra II: The Inside
      Story of the Invasion and Occupation of Iraq," the
      book by New York Times reporter Michael R. Gordon and
      retired Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Bernard E. Trainor.

      In 2001, Scheid was a colonel with the Central
      Command, the unit that oversees U.S. military
      operations in the Mideast.

      On Sept. 10, 2001, he was selected to be the chief of
      logistics war plans.

      On Sept. 11, 2001, he said, "life just went to hell."

      That day, Gen. Tommy Franks, the commander of Central
      Command, told his planners, including Scheid, to "get
      ready to go to war."

      A day or two later, Rumsfeld was "telling us we were
      going to war in Afghanistan and to start building the
      war plan. We were going to go fast.

      "Then, just as we were barely into Afghanistan ...
      Rumsfeld came and told us to get ready for Iraq."

      Scheid said he remembers everyone thinking, "My gosh,
      we're in the middle of Afghanistan, how can we
      possibly be doing two at one time? How can we pull
      this off? It's just going to be too much."

      Planning was kept very hush-hush in those early days.

      "There was only a handful of people, maybe five or
      six, that were involved with that plan because it had
      to be kept very, very quiet."

      There was already an offensive plan in place for Iraq,
      Scheid said. And in the beginning, the planners were
      just expanding on it.

      "Whether we were going to execute it, we had no idea,"
      Scheid said.

      Eventually other military agencies - like the
      transportation and Army materiel commands - had to get

      They couldn't just "keep planning this in the dark,"
      Scheid said.

      Planning continued to be a challenge.

      "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

      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. "We would not do planning for Phase 4
      operations, which would require all those additional
      troops that people talk about today.

      "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."

      Why did Rumsfeld think that? Scheid doesn't know.

      "But think back to those times. We had done Bosnia. We
      said we were going into Bosnia and stop the fighting
      and come right out. And we stayed."

      Was Rumsfeld right or wrong?

      Scheid said he doesn't know that either.

      "In his own mind he thought we could go in and fight
      and take out the regime and come out. But a lot of us
      planners were having a real hard time with it because
      we were also thinking we can't do this. Once you tear
      up a country you have to stay and rebuild it. It was
      very challenging."

      Even if the people who laid out the initial war plans
      had fleshed out post-invasion missions, the fighting
      and insurgent attacks going on today would have been
      hard to predict, Scheid said.

      "We really thought that after the collapse of the
      regime we were going to do all these humanitarian type
      things," he said. "We thought this would go pretty
      fast and we'd be able to get out of there. We really
      didn't anticipate them to continue to fight the way
      they did or come back the way they are.

      "Now we're going more toward a civil war. We didn't
      see that coming."

      While Scheid, a soldier since 1977, spoke candidly
      about the days leading up to the invasion of Iraq, he
      remains concerned about the American public's view of
      the troops.

      He's bothered by the nationwide divide over the war
      and fearful that patriotism among citizens will
      continue to decline.

      "We're really hurting right now," he said.

      Daily Press researcher Tracy Sorensen contributed to
      this report.