FLASHBACK: Scorned general's tactics proved right

By:  Matthew Engel

This has been a terrible week at the Pentagon: the worst since the building itself was attacked more than 18 months ago. But as his limo drew up to fetch him last night, one of the most senior figures in the building might just have permitted himself the thin smile of a vindicated man.

His name in General Eric Shinseki. And at a time when generals - whether on active or pundit duty - are the hottest showbiz properties in the world, hardly anyone knows who he is.

Officially, he is Tommy Franks's superior, head of the United States army, a member of the mighty joint chiefs, and two months away from what ought to be honoured retirement at the end of a military career stretching back to the Vietnam war.

But for the past two years Gen Shinseki has been in total eclipse after what appears to have been the most spectacular bust-up with his civilian bosses, in particular Donald Rumsfeld, the defence secretary.

Hardly any of this the reached public domain until last month when Gen Shinseki told a congressional committee that he thought an occupying force in the hundreds of thousands would be required to police postwar Iraq. Mr Rumsfeld publicly repudiated him, saying he was "far off the mark".

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