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Politics

Rumsfeld concedes Iraq woes

The outgoing defense chief says things have not progressed as hoped.

By ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published November 10, 2006


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WASHINGTON - Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld acknowledged Thursday that progress in the Iraq war has not been going "well enough or fast enough" in his first extended remarks since announcing his resignation.

Rumsfeld said little about his impending departure when speaking to an audience of students, teachers and military personnel at Kansas State University. Instead, he offered a retrospective of sorts on his two tours as defense chief while echoing President Bush's appraisal that the conflict has been going poorly in recent months.

"I will say this - it is very clear that the major combat operations were an enormous success," he said, of the March 2003 invasion in which Baghdad fell within weeks.

"It's clear that in Phase 2 of this, it has not been going well enough or fast enough."

Since the U.S. overthrow of Saddam Hussein, a violent insurgency and - in recent months - bloody warfare between Muslim sects have erupted.

Rumsfeld declined to offer advice to Robert Gates, nominated to replace him, and declined to grade his performance as defense secretary. "I'd let history worry about that," he said.

Rumsfeld was warmly welcomed by students, faculty and personnel from Forts Riley and Leavenworth in the college audience at Manhattan, Kan.

Richard Myers, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in introducing the defense chief that he is a leader who shows loyalty down the chain of command.

"He has had many opportunities to deflect the arrows coming his way, to the military," Myers said. "It would have been easy for the secretary of defense to deflect it. He sucked up all those arrows and continued to lead the department in the way that he knew was right."

[Last modified November 10, 2006, 01:42:05]


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