Read a Pacific Northwest, liberal perspective on world, national, and local politics. From majestic Redmond, Washington - the Northwest Progressive Institute Advocate.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Department of Veterans Affairs will have a much brighter future under Eric Shinseki

In less than a month, President-elect Barack Obama will be taking office as the Forty Fourth President of the United States. Joining him in the executive branch will be a team of tough and experienced Americans ready to clean up the mess that the Bush administration is leaving behind.

One of those team members - our new President's choice for Secretary of Veterans' Affairs - is Retired General Eric Shinseki, whose distinguished career in the United States Army gives him a rock solid background for the job.
Shinseki is the first four-star general of Asian American ancestry in U.S. history and also the first Asian-American to lead one of the five U.S. Military services . He is a veteran of combat in Vietnam, having been left with a maimed foot. During his tenure as Army Chief of Staff, Shinseki initiated an innovative but controversial plan to make the Army more strategically deployable and mobile in urban terrain by creating the Stryker Interim-Force Brigade Combat Teams. He conceived a long term strategic plan for the Army dubbed Objective Force, which included a program he designed, Future Combat Systems.
Shinseki is a highly regarded former Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army and most famously a thorn in the side of the Bush administration.

You may recall that it was Shinsheki who correctly informed Congress that Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz's estimates for the number of troops needed to keep Iraq stable after a U.S.-led invasion were way too low.

Shinseki was publicly rebuked by Wolfowitz for drawing on his expertise to provide lawmakers with reliable information. Hinsight has shown that Shinsheki knew what he was talking about, while the neoconservative Wolfowitz didn't.

As a retired member of the Armed Forces, I am particularly pleased with Shinsheki's selection. The Department of Veterans' Affairs badly needs a leader who can reorganize the bureaucracy, advocate for better care for the men and women who have honorably served our country in uniform, and modernize facilities that have been allowed to deteoriate by the current administration.

We at NPI hope General Shinsheki's nomination is unanimously confirmed by the Senate next month, and we wish him the best of luck in reforming the V.A.


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