1930Rumsfeld forbade planning for post-war Iraq
- Sep 10, 2006http://www.dailypress.com/news/dp-21075sy0sep08,0,2264542.story?page=1&coll=dp-widget-news
Eustis chief: Iraq post-war plan muzzled
Army Brig. Gen. Mark Scheid, an early planner of the
war, tells about challenges of invasion and
BY STEPHANIE HEINATZ
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
"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,"
Eventually other military agencies - like the
transportation and Army materiel commands - had to get
They couldn't just "keep planning this in the dark,"
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
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
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