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Gen. Riggs Joins in Calling for Rumsfeld to Quit

U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld speaks during a news briefing at the Pentagon on April 11, 2006.
Alex Wong
Getty Images
U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld speaks during a news briefing at the Pentagon on April 11, 2006.

Citing an atmosphere of "arrogance" among the top civilian leaders at the Pentagon, another retired general is calling for the resignation of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

Retired Maj. Gen. John Riggs sees fault in the handling of the military's involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"I think he should step aside and let someone step in who can be more realistic," Riggs told NPR's Michele Norris on Thursday.

Riggs served in the Army for 39 years, attaining the rank of three-star general. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for his actions as a helicopter pilot during Vietnam. He retired in 2005 with the loss of one star in rank after the Army said he had misused contractors.

Riggs said Rumsfeld and his civilian subordinates do not listen to, or even seek, the advice of professional military officers, except when it is convenient.

"They only need the military advice when it satisfies their agenda," Riggs said. "I think that's a mistake, and that's why I think he should resign."

Riggs says he thinks the military needs more troops on the ground in Iraq to successfully stabilize the country.

"I think what happened is that we just grossly underestimated the number of soldiers required for the stability phase," Riggs said.

"As a soldier I supported the war in Iraq," Riggs wrote in an e-mail, answering a follow-up question Thursday afternoon. "What I did not support was the way it was being mis/micromanaged by [Office of the Secretary of Defense-Rumsfeld. Not sure what his agenda was, but it certainly was not to dominate and stabilize the situation on the ground."

Four other retired generals have come out in favor of Rumsfeld's resignation. On Thursday, The Washington Post quoted retired Maj. Gen. John Batiste as saying the Pentagon needed a change in its leadership. Batiste commanded the Army's 1st Infantry Division in Iraq in 2004-05, something that gives his opinion more weight, according to Riggs.

The Post article also notes three other prominent Rumsfeld critics among the ranks of the recently retired: Marine Lt. Gen. Gregory Newbold, director of operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 2000-2002; retired Army Maj. Gen. Paul Eaton, who supervised Iraqi troop training in 2003-2004; and retired Marine Gen. Anthony Zinni, who was chief of the U.S. Central Command (overseeing Iraq and the rest of the Middle East) in the late 1990s.

Rumsfeld has publicly said that he has offered his resignation to President Bush in the past. The president has refused his offer to leave the Pentagon.

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